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Dwyane Wade, Bulls promote peace between Chicago high schoolers and police

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The Chicago Bulls recently held a basketball tournament featuring local youth and the Chicago PD.

For marquee athletes like Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler, oftentimes, being an NBA player is much bigger than basketball.

Thursday was one of those times.

Wade, Butler and other members of the Chicago Bulls, both past and present — including Robin Lopez, Rajon Rondo, Michael Carter-Williams, Denzel Valentine, Horace Grant and Toni Kukoc — hosted a basketball tournament, in partnership with Youth Guidance’s Becoming a Man program and the Chicago Police Department, to “encourage mutual respect, understanding and trust between youth and the police.”

According to a release sent out by the team, the tournament, which was the third of its kind and took place inside the Bulls’ practice facility, featured 24 Chicago police officers and 24 students from Morgan Park and Percy L. Julian high schools playing alongside each other. Between games, the officers and students joined Bulls players for “conversation circles.” The participating students also received Jordan Brand jerseys and other prizes.

“Mentors play an invaluable role in the lives of our young men and women, and I want to commend our very own Chicago Bulls for stepping up in support of our city’s youth,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. “We all have a responsibility to ensure that every young man and woman have the tools, resources, and guidance they need to help put them on the right path to a bright future.”

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The tournament tipped off a month of events for the Bulls and Youth Guidance’s Becoming a Man and Working on Womanhood programs, as the organizations look to “provide students with exposure to careers in sports and empower them through conversations and lessons about bettering the city of Chicago.”

For every Bulls home game this month, a different group of students will be invited to the United Center, and on certain off days, Bulls players are scheduled to visit various schools throughout the city.

“Youth Guidance has been an invaluable community partner for the Chicago Bulls for the past five years,” said Nancy Reinsdorf, president of Bulls charities. “While we work with them throughout the entire year to help our city’s youth stay motivated and active in our community, March will be a month to highlight the amazing success the BAM and WOW students are achieving.”

Follow AJ Neuharth-Keusch on Twitter @tweetAJNK

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