Since I discovered the 30 for 30 documentaries, I have seen Benji on my list of recommended titles and I haven’t had the urge to watch it, until today. Since I was home recovery from an illness, I decided to just suck it up and watch the movie.
So this week’s 30 for 30 is on Benji, the 2012 documentary on the life and death of Ben Wilson.
If you don’t know who Benji is, let me give you a quick recap. Ben Wilson was a young basketball player from the South Side of Chicago. Ben played for Neal F. Simeon Vocational High School back in the 80s. He helped the team win the 1984 State Championship and was considered one of the greatest people in Chicago ranked up there with Oprah and Michael Jordan.
He was considered the #1 basketball player in the country, but his life was caught short when he was shot on November 20th. His death sparked outrage, which is completely understandable. He was taken to the closest hospital, which didn’t have a trauma center so they probably weren’t equipped to handle his injuries. So his death helped to change the policy of taking victims to the closet hospital to taking victims to the closest fully staffed trauma center.
His high school took his number 25 jersey and decided to give it to the players that are the best on the team, like Derrick Rose who helped lead the team to the state championship. Jabari Parker so wore 25 on his shoes while he tore up the court at Simeon.
All of this is great, but at the heart of the documentary is that Wilson’s life was cut short by a kid with a gun over something stupid which is completely normal on the South Side. Wilson was said to have been the 600th something person murdered that year in Chicago.
It’s no secret that the South Side of Chicago has a lot of violence. And Ben Wilson’s death is no different the numerous others that have lost their lives to senseless violence since that fateful day in ’84, but you would think that the #1 being gunned down would have sparked outrage loud enough to finally figure how to control guns and violence on the South Side.
But it didn’t, you can’t turn on the news anywhere in the Chicago area without hearing about someone getting shot on the South Side. Just today, a 4 year old boy was shot in the back in Englewood around 5:45 pm.
So what is it going to take for people to figure out how to stop the violence? How many more kids have to have their futures be unfulfilled until something is done? Ben’s death should have been the catalyst that brought change, but it wasn’t and there is no solution in sight yet.
Hopefully one day somebody figures out a way to end the senseless violence, until then the media will just be filled with stories like Benji’s of a future unfulfilled.