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Rahm Emanuel, Isiah Thomas to announce Windy City Hoops expansion

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and basketball great Isiah Thomas will announce on Monday an expansion of the at-risk youth basketball program Windy City Hoops, to be funded by regular Chicagoans through a donation drive.

The goal is to raise $480,000 in 60 days — enough to start new teen basketball leagues at 10 parks in high-crime, low-income neighborhoods from Rogers Park to Roseland, the mayor’s office said in a press release.

The additional leagues would open up 3,200 new spots for at-risk teens ages 13 to 17, an expansion the mayor’s office says will double the total number of hours of year-round teen basketball programming the Chicago Park District provides.

Donations will be accepted at, and the year-round league will start in March.

The mayor’s office says the expansion of Windy City Hoops dovetails with other recent initiatives to keep teens off the streets and is aimed at engaging at-risk youth and reducing gang activity.

Parks and neighborhoods that would see the expanded Windy City Hoops program include:

◆ Pottowottomie Park, in Rogers Park

◆ Amundsen and Columbus parks, in Austin

◆ Garfield Park, in East Garfield Park

◆ Kennicott Park, in Kenwood

◆ Jackson Park, in Woodlawn

◆ Ogden and Hamilton Parks, in Englewood

◆ Fernwood Park, in Roseland.

“For me, as a child in Chicago, basketball was a way that I could enjoy myself, make friends, stay safe and obtain the education I needed to succeed in life,” Thomas said in the release. “I am happy to be involved with a program that will allow many others the same valuable opportunities that I had.”

The Chicago native played 12 seasons with the Detroit Pistons, racking up 11 All-Star appearances and nine trips to the playoffs. He was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 2000.

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