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Snoop Dogg’s Youth Football League touches down here

Rapper Snoop Dogg chants with kids Saturday Chicago Indoor Sports Facility 3900 S. Ashland. He was town talk about his

Rapper Snoop Dogg chants with kids Saturday at the Chicago Indoor Sports Facility, 3900 S. Ashland. He was in town to talk about his youth football league, which is opening six chapters here this year. | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 2, 2011 3:56PM

Snoop Dogg came to Chicago Saturday, not to talk about gin and juice but X’s and O’s.

The usually laid-back rapper cast aside his extremely mellow image to talk seriously to nearly 100 excited kids on the South Side about the start of his youth football league.

“The thing is if we don’t give these kids something to fight for, they’ll die for nothing,” Snoop said.

“When I walked into the building I felt the spirit,” Snoop said after he arrived at the Chicago Indoor Sports Facility, 3900 S. Ashland, on Saturday afternoon to groups of screaming boys and girls.

With the inaugural season of Chicago’s Snoop Youth Football League starting in Chicago, he wants to contribute to the fight against street violence by providing kids with more opportunities in sports and education. He went from one group of kids to another, joining in their chants, before sitting down to announce the new league.

“I’m looking forward to those high [participation] numbers coming out of Chicago,” instead of high death rates, said Snoop, whose legal name is Calvin Broadus.

Snoop’s football league started in Los Angeles in 2004 and has expanded nationally, including teams in New York, San Diego and Las Vegas. The league is made up of 72 youth football teams, with more than 3,400 children, ages 5 to 14, participating in football and cheerleading.

Joining the league will cost each kid $100 to $165, including uniforms, although financial assistance is available.

The new Chicago league will open with six chapters based in Bridgeport, Humboldt Park, Pilsen and Cabrini-Green.

But it’s not just about football. Several program sponsors, from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to Midwest Orthopedics at Rush, will offer classes to the players.

“We’re trying to not just focus on the now, but on the future also,” said Scott Lutostanski, a Bucktown Chicago Public Schools teacher and scholastic coordinator for the league.

Snoop’s background is similar to that of many of the kids in the program, and he can reach them by speaking from his own experience, said Tonja Styles, the president of the football league.

“We just want to inspire them,” Snoop said, noting that programs with such high aspirations weren’t readily available in his community when he was a kid.

“We’re teaching life skills,” he said. “That’s what this program is all about.”

Parents interested in the Snoop Youth Football League can go to for more information.

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