Category: Sports

Maywood Native, Proviso East Grad Signs NBA Contract With Philadelphia 76ers

Friday, September 22, 2017 || By Local News Curator || @maywoodnews 

Featured image: Jacob Pullen, who recently signed with the Philadelphia 76ers after playing several years overseas. |

Bryan Colangelo, the president of basketball operations for the Philadelphia 76ers, announced today that the team has signed Maywood native, Proviso East graduate and Kansas State star Jacob Pullen to an undisclosed deal.

Continue reading “Maywood Native, Proviso East Grad Signs NBA Contract With Philadelphia 76ers”


Pirate Dee Brown Takes Coaching Job at UIC

Wednesday, August 30, 2017 || By Local News Curator || @maywoodnews

Featured image: Dee Brown during his Illini playing days. | Getty Images 

Proviso East Pirate and University of Illinois basketball standout Dee Brown has taken a job as an assistant coach at the University of Illinois at Chicago, according to multiple reports.

Continue reading “Pirate Dee Brown Takes Coaching Job at UIC”

Fallen Proviso West Football Star A Profile of Forgiveness

Sunday, August 20, 2017 || By Local News Curator || @maywoodnews

Feature Photo: Hubert “Boo Boo” Thompson during his days at Proviso West 

Hubert “Boo Boo” Thompson, 38, was once so dominant on the football field as an elite defensive lineman for Proviso West High School that highly respected recruits thought he might be able to skip college and go straight to the NFL.

The national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming described Thompson as “one of the best defensive linemen ever to come out of the Chicago area.”

Continue reading “Fallen Proviso West Football Star A Profile of Forgiveness”

The Maywood-Bellwood Little League Has a Mission: To Revive Youth Baseball

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Maywood-Bellwood Little League baseball players have fun during a July 15 award ceremony and outing at Stevenson Park in Bellwood. | Sebastian Hidalgo/VFP

Thursday, July 20, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Byron Banks, 32, looked out at the baseball diamonds at Stevenson/Memorial Park, 3101 Washington Blvd. in Bellwood, last Saturday and recalled his own playing days.

“When we were playing on these fields, there were [at least 16 teams in different divisions],” said Banks, who was a star pitcher in the majors division for Central Credit Union back in the days Bellwood youth baseball teams were named after the businesses sponsoring them — businesses like BorgWarner and Mickey’s Drive-in.

Banks played baseball for Proviso East High School before going off to play for Indiana University and, after transferring, Grambling State University.

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Kids cool off in the sprinklers at Stevenson Park in Bellwood on July 15 during a post-season outing for the Maywood-Bellwood Little League. | Sebastian Hidalgo/VFP

“I came back from college and this is what it was like,” Banks said, pointing to a swath of empty park. “I have no idea what happened. I think it may have been a lot of different things.”

The lack of a strong baseball league in either Maywood or Bellwood presented an opening for Banks, a member of Athletic Konnection, a nonprofit that focuses on developing the skills and character of young athletes in Proviso Township.

The organization was formed from a bond between Banks and some of his former teammates, many of which he spent his formative years playing with, and against, in the community, in high school and in college. They represent multiple sports, including baseball and football.

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There were nearly 50 participants in the league’s debut season said Speed Alexander, the league’s president. | Sebastian Hidalgo/VFP

Last year, members of AK teamed up with Speed Alexander, the head of the Maywood B.U.C.S. youth sports organization, to create the Maywood-Bellwood Little League. Banks is a board member while Alexander is the league’s president.

“There are a lot of kids out here who have some very tough situations at home. My goal is to give kids a chance to be kids while they’re still young,” Alexander said on July 15 at Stevenson Park during an awards ceremony for the players who participated in the league’s debut season.

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“My goal is to give kids a chance to be kids while they’re still young,” said Speed Alexander. | Sebastian Hidalgo/VFP

Alexander said that the league fielded 49 kids on three different teams comprising players ages five and six, seven and eight, and nine and 10.

“The Bellwood program was so strong at one time that they never participated in Little League,” Alexander explained. “So, since they didn’t have a Little League charter and I do, we sat down and said, ‘Let’s combine both leagues since our numbers are so low.'”

Alexander said he doesn’t believe Maywood or Bellwood fielded a baseball team at all last year. In Maywood, he said, there were two teams fielded in 2015.

Robert Jay, whose four grandchildren participated in the Maywood-Bellwood Little League this year, helped coordinate a baseball league formed by the Maywood Sports Association in 2015.

The league was made of a pee wee team for kids ages four to six years old; a minor league team for kids ages seven to eight years old; and a Little League team for kids ages nine to 12 years old.Robert Jay.jpg


Robert Jay, who helped organize a baseball league in Maywood that lasted for two years, has four grandchildren in the new Maywood-Bellwood Little League. | Sebastian Hidalgo/VFP

Jay said that the MSA had a difficult time recruiting young people to be in the league. And if they enrolled, he said, they had a hard time retaining them. Jay attributed some of the problem with recruiting and retaining baseball players to the overlapping seasons of different sports.

“We got too many sports going on at one time,” Jay said. “Last year, I had nine kids. Four of them were committed to baseball and football. If practices were at the same time, they went to football.”

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A child revels in the sprinklers at Bellwood’s Stevenson Park on July 15. | Sebastian Hidalgo

Alexander said that the partnership with Athletic Konnection, in addition to growing partnerships with athletic entities in other communities, helped make the Little League’s first year a success.

“We told ourselves that if Byron and these guys who have played at the college and pro level can combine with us and put it together, if we can connect and pull our resources together, we can bring baseball back,” Alexander said.

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Letting kids be kids is the league’s goal, said Alexander. Last Saturday, the kids were kids. | Sebastian Hidalgo/VFP

Banks said that if the newly formed league is to be around for the indefinite future, local businesses need to get back into the picture. Revenue from sponsors can help offset the costs involved in fielding teams.

Although the league charges $80 per youth for each season and has launched numerous fundraisers, the money doesn’t rise to what businesses can bring to the table, league officials indicated.

“We need the support of businesses who can sponsor teams,” Banks said. “Back in the day, every team used to have a sponsor. Your funding comes from businesses who sponsor us. The sponsorship opportunities start at $300 and go up from there.”

In the meantime, the future looks bright, said Banks, who said that nearly 90 young people have registered Athletic Konnection’s second annual baseball camp that will be held the weekend of July 22.

“People are seeing what we’re doing and we look to grow tremendously,” said Alexander. VFP

Coming Up

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Breaking: Maywood Native Sterling Brown Picked 46th in NBA Draft


Maywood native Sterling Brown, who was recently drafted in the second round of the NBA draft. | Draft

Friday, June 23, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || Updated: 12:42 a.m. 

Sterling Brown, a Proviso East basketball standout who distinguished himself at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, was selected as the 46th pick in the NBA draft on June 22.

Brown — whose older brother, Proviso East and Michigan State alum Shannon Brown was picked 25th in the 2006 NBA draft — was picked in the second round by the Philadelphia 76ers but immediately traded to the Milwaukee Bucks.

In a June 20 essay he penned for CBS Local Sports, Sterling Brown recalled his family’s rich basketball roots and battling with his older brother:

“We have a basketball family,” Brown wrote. “My father played in college and of course Shannon played in the NBA, so just being around the game all the time growing up and watching those two really got me into playing basketball. My battles with my older brother growing up were good battles to me because he never took it easy on me. I still haven’t beaten him to this day. But, I always gave it my all and I got better with every game that I played against him. It’s still a challenge for me and I look forward to getting that first win under my belt.”

Read Brown’s full essay by clicking here. VFP

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Proviso East Legend Doc Rivers: ‘Without Bill Russell, I’m Not Coaching’

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Wednesday, February 22, 2016 || By Local News Curator || @maywoodnews

Maywood native and Proviso East basketball legend Doc Rivers delivered a shout-out to Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell for an inspiring video produced by the NBA for Black History Month.

Most people think of Bill Russell as this great winner, and he was,” Rivers says. “I don’t think people realize all the things that he pioneered. He stood up in times when it was very hard to stand up.”

That’s not a surprising perspective coming from Rivers, who hasn’t hesitated to stand up himself on some critical contemporary issues, like that time he chimed on the Colin Kaepernick protests (the Orange County Register’s story — click here — on that stance is worth reading again).

See the NBA’s roughly minute-long clip hereVFP

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Proviso East Alum to Be Inducted Into State Wrestling Hall of Fame

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Reggie Wright coaching at Indiana University. Wright was recently inducted into the IWCOA Hall of Fame. | Indiana University Athletic Department

Tuesday, February 21, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Reggie Wright, a two-time state champion who wrestled for Proviso East in the mid-1990s, was recently inducted into the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association Hall of Fame, which made the announcement late last year.

On Feb. 17, the Class of 2017 inductees were honored during the IHSA Individual State Championships in Champaign. They’ll be officially inducted into the IWCOA Hall of Fame during an award banquet on April 22.

Wright still holds the record at Proviso East for most career wins (160). After a stellar high school career, he went on to wrestle at Triton, where he became a National Junior College Champion, before enrolling at Oklahoma State. While with the Cowboys, Wright was a three-time Big 12 champion and a three-time All-American.

According to a Wednesday Journal profile, “Wright’s post-collegiate wrestling accomplishments are also impressive, highlighted by a third-place finish at the Acropolis Tournament in Athens, Greece and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

“As an assistant at Indiana University for six years, he coached 10 All-Americans and six Academic All-Americans, including two-time NCAA champion Joe Dubuque. After his successful stint at IU, Wright became the head coach at Delaware State University. He holds master’s degrees in kinesiology and school business management.”

Ironically, Wright is being inducted into the IWCOA Hall of Fame along with Oak Park and River Forest High School wrestling star Alan Cartwright, the son of hall of fame Proviso East wrestling coach Bill Cartwright.

Read a 1995 Chicago Tribune article on the hard work that Wright put into winning his first state title by clicking hereVFP

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