On Wednesday January 7th, Youth Guidance support group B.A.M (Becoming A Man) took a group of 18 sophomore and junior boys to the Bulls vs. Jazz game. As BAM counselor Brandon Bailys was making final plans, CPS cancelled school for the next day due to extreme low temperatures. The young men in BAM expressed interest in attending the trip anyway, and Mr. Bailys was able to make it possible.
At the United Center, students entered through the “press/media” door to walk straight through to the court before the players hit the floor. After a meet-and-greet with the team’s officials and a quick group picture with Joakim Noah, a few students got the chance to be interviewed by ESPN: Demetrius Crespo, Ruben Gonzalez, Charly Sandoval, Jose Arce and Anthony Berdecia.
Once the game finished, they made their way down to the court to “check out” (a process that the BAM group uses to sum up their experience in group for the day). As students were waiting to get started, Joakim Noah walked out with this huge smile on his face and called, “What’s up BAM?!” He connected with the students by showing his BAM bracelet, which he wears in all of his games, and spoke about the game and BAM’s core principles.
Clemente student Jorge Miranda then challenged him with, “If I dunk on you, can I get season passes?” Noah invited the entire group to the court for more pictures and to shoot around. At first, the students underestimated the NBA size rim so Noah offered, “Next person who shoots a three – I got tickets to the next game for them.” Twenty shots later, sophomore Steven Fitts made the lucky basket, receiving floor-side seats to this past Saturday’s game against the Charlotte Bobcats.
Finally, everyone on the court circled up to put the trip into perspective during BAM check-out. “I feel blessed for this opportunity,” Peirce McWilliams shared. Giovanni Espinosa added, “I never thought this is something I would ever be doing. All in all, this was an experience that none of us here at Clemente will ever forget.
Special Thanks to the Chicago Bulls, and to Joakim Noah, for supporting our kids!