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Chicagoan Sonny Parker, NBA athletes host youth mentorship panel

Photo caption: ZION PHILLIPS WITH founder and president Robert “Sonny” Parker of “the Sonny Parker Youth Foundation,” attending the “Inaugural Chicago Basketball Legends Tribute and Mentorship Panel Discussion” on Saturday, July 15, on Chicago’s West Side. (Photo credit: Marcus Robinson and Joseph Phillips)

Chicagoan Sonny Parker, NBA athletes host youth mentorship panel

Panel kicks off 2023 Unity Classic Pro AM Tournament in July

To kick off the 2023 Sonny Parker Unity Classic Pro AM Tournament to be held July 31 through August 14 at Wendell Phillips Academy High School, Congressman Danny K. Davis, in collaboration with the Sonny Parker Youth Foundation and other community partnerships, hosted an Inaugural Chicago Basketball Legends Tribute and Mentorship Panel Discussion on July 15, on Chicago’s West Side.

According to the Foundation, the epic event was designed to honor NBA legends  who have helped pave the way for future generations.

The event paid tribute to Chicago NBA Legends: Sonny Parker, Shawn Marion, Mickey Johnson, Bobby Simmons, Aaron Williams, Kendall Gill, Mark Aguirre and Dr. Lloyd Walton.

During the event, Congressman Davis acknowledged and awarded panel members for their work and mentorship in the community.

The panel discussion was led by Chicago’s beloved Kendall Gill and moderated by CBS2 News morning anchorman Ryan Baker.

In addition to Gill and Baker’s contributions to the panel, the group offered valuable mentorship lessons to youth in attendance and shared their own personal life experiences of trials, tribulations and perseverance.

Former Chicago Bulls legend Wallace “Mickey” Johnson shared his testimony on how hard he had to work to make his hometown team as a former second-round pick.

Johnson, a graduate of Lindblom High School and Aurora University, is a 12-year NBA veteran, owner of a pest control company, entrepreneur and mentor.

Parker, a graduate of Farragut Academy High School and Texas A&M University, shared with the youth the importance of obtaining a college education and being productive on and off the court in life. Parker played six years in the NBA and is currently the president of the Sonny Parker Youth Foundation, a philanthropist and entrepreneur.
Aguirre, a graduate of Westinghouse High School and DePaul University, shared with the youth the importance of having a God-fearing family and how his mentor Robert “Sonny” Parker helped him become a pro. Aguirre played 13 seasons in the NBA. He was recently appointed Director of Varsity Basketball at DePaul University.

Gill, a graduate of Rich Central High School and the University of Illinois, shared the importance of having mentors in the game of basketball as both a prospect and a retired player. Gill, a top-5 pick in the 1990 NBA Draft, played 15 seasons throughout his professional career. Gill at present works in television for NBC Sports Chicago and is part of the Chicago Bulls pre- and post-game team. He is currently 4-0 as a professional boxer, and is the founder/director of the 60/40 club and member of the Silver Fox squad.

Marion, a North Chicago native and graduate of Clarksville High School and UNLV, played 16 seasons in the NBA. Marion spoke to the youth about his current position with the Dallas Mavericks and his ownership of pickleball and basketball teams.

Simmons, a graduate of Simeon High School and DePaul University, played 10 plus years in the NBA. He is a career counselor for the NBA Players Association and a successful entrepreneur. Simmons spoke to the youth about his relationship with Michael Jordan and how he helped him as a former player and a businessman.

Dr. Walton, a graduate of Mount Carmel High School and Marquette University, played five seasons in the NBA. Walton spoke to the youth about his current profession as a senior counselor for the National Basketball Players Association.

Williams, a graduate of Rolling Meadows High School and Xavier University, played 14 years in the NBA. Williams is the owner of Scotts Properties and shared with the youth his journey to the NBA as an undrafted prospect.

Prior to the event, the youth engaged with the panel to discuss career advice and the importance of working hard in school as an athlete.

Sports Editor at Chicago Crusader Newspaper | + posts

Joseph Phillips is the Sports Editor for the Chicago Crusader Newspaper. He is a Chicago native, who has been a sports writer for over 17 years. He also hosts the SC Media News and Sports Network Q&A radio show on WHPK 88.5 FM Chicago.

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