11/21/2012 03:35 pm ET Updated Jan 21, 2013

CeaseFire Illinois Salutes NBA Legend Isiah Thomas

Isiah Thomas is trying hard to understand what's going on in Chicago as it relates to the escalating violence that has taken the lives of so many young people in some of Chicago's deadliest neighborhoods. Isiah being a product of the East Garfield community really understands the issue of violence firsthand before making it to the NBA. Recently, Isiah has been involved with organizing several events with high risk youth in Chicago to help bring about some peace and dialogue. On Saturday November 17, 2012 Isiah joined forces with CeaseFire, Christ the King High School, and several community leaders including Mayor Rahm Emanuel to participate in the second Basketball Tournament for Peace.

The Basketball Tournament for Peace was more than a basketball game and Isiah actually led a serious discussion with the young men in the community to help them understand that it's up to the young guys to change their situation. Isiah has visited Chicago several times to meet with young men and follow up on the conversation regarding the peace process. Father Michael Pfleger helped to organize the first Basketball Tournament for Peace and now Isiah plans to follow up on a regular basis to make sure that most of the young men really get the message that the violence needs to stop right now.

Chicago drew national attention in regards to the increasing homicide rate and over 450 people have lost their lives in Chicago covering the period from January 1, 2012-November 19, 2012. All efforts are welcome when it comes down to reducing violence in Chicago and Isiah has come through every step of the way by becoming totally engaged with the high risk youth and searching for solutions. Isiah continues to challenge the ideology that young men and some women have become violent because of poverty or the lack of employment. This topic is very important because several of the young men in attendance during the Basketball Tournament for Peace shared that the main reason they are fighting is not always due to a lack of opportunities. Some of the killings are directly related to young men trying to build a reputation, petty arguments, neighborhood conflict, domestic quarrels, interpersonal conflict, disrespect, peer pressure, and gang conflict. However, securing employment can be a great incentive for some young people involved in the violence.

It's always a good thing when young people come together to discuss some of their problems in a positive environment with people like Isiah Thomas and some of the community leaders in attendance for the Basketball Tournament for Peace. The recent Basketball Tournament for Peace was credited for reducing some of the tensions in the Auburn Gresham community on the Southside of Chicago and now we hope that the Basketball Tournament for Peace could help reduce some of the tensions in the Austin community located on the Westside of Chicago.

Overall, Chicago is still a violent city and we all need to step up and do our best to help educate young men and women regarding the pitfalls of being involved in violent behavior. Isiah has become one of the new champions of the peace movement in Chicago and we all welcome one of our native sons. The best is yet to come.