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Jabari Parker makes impact on Chicago youth

Milwaukee Bucks forward and Simeon High School alumnus Jabari Parker may not get credit for giving back to the Chicago community, but he’s fine with that.

“I’m not a huge social-media guy,” Parker said at an event in Chicago with other community leaders promoting the Jordan RE2PECT brand campaign. “I don’t really tag along to the things I do on a daily basis. I come back. It may not be exemplified because I don’t put it out there, but I do my job. And some of my job is just being around.”

Parker, along with his father, Sonny, and several other Chicago community leaders, discussed various issues at the event, such as gun violence, racism and ways leaders can reach out to kids.

As Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed reported last month, since Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah left the city, there has been a lack of professional athletes who have stepped up to give back to the community. Though Parker lives in Milwaukee, he is trying to fill that void.

Jabari Parker will return to the court Friday night in Milwaukee.

Parker, who said he visits Chicago whenever he can, is hosting a free basketball camp in Chicago next week and continues to advocate for extracurricular activities for kids. For other community leaders and activists such as Aleta Clark, the founder of the anti-gun violence “Hugs No Slugs” organization, having people like Parker attend these type of events is crucial.

“I think it’s important because Jabari is an idol,” Clark said. “People look up to him; a lot of young boys want to be basketball players. Just to see somebody of his status come here, come back to the community, back into the city and give back, that’s inspirational.”

Andrew Barber, the creator of Fake Shore Drive, a Chicago-area music blog and media company, agreed with Clark.

“That kind of appearance and showing that you care, it breeds more of that, it breeds more of positivity,” Barber said. “And it shows that it’s cool to do this. And for a long time, I think caring wasn’t cool, and I think there’s been a lot of game-changers recently to show that hey, giving back is cool.”

So whether people outside of Chicago know about Parker’s actions in the community or not, he still is making an impact on kids’ lives.

“That lets people know: Not only is it OK to follow your dreams and be a basketball player if you want to, but to give back and pour back into your community, when you become a leader,” Clark said. “It’s not the fact that you’re a basketball player that’s making millions, it’s the fact that you have integrity and you have dignity and the love for your people and the success. So I think that’s important for all youth to see something like that regularly.”

Follow me on Twitter @ElanKane15.

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