By Evelyn Holmes, abc7chicago.com
Weeks after his cousin was fatally shot in Chicago, Bulls guard Dwyane Wade and his family toured a new community center in the city’s West Pullman neighborhood which is named after his 97-year-old grandmother.
On Saturday, Wade attended the opening of the Willie Mae Morris Empowerment Center on the Far South Side, a center that the NBA superstar and his family helped build.
“When something hits close to home, your antennas go up even more,” Wade said.
The center aims to bring positive change to a city plagued by gun violence.
Politicians, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, also attended.
“It’s just a vision and a dream come true,” said Wade’s mother, Pastor Jolinda Wade.
And while the center is a celebration for the family, they were hit with personal tragedy just a few weeks ago when Wade’s cousin, Nykea Aldridge, a 32-year-old mother of four, was killed by gang crossfire. She was pushing a baby stroller at the time and not the intended target.
“We’re now the victims and we feel now that we have an even stronger heart to get out there and show the positive,” said Tragil Wade, Dwyane Wade’s sister.
The community center, located at West 129th Place and South Halsted Street, will be the largest of its kind in the area and provide a safe haven for neighborhood kids.
“With this, the kids know there is hope and they can do something further down the line in life,” said resident Brian Ferrel.
Saturday’s dedication also included “A Day of Play,” sponsored, in part, by Wade’s charity — Wade’s World Foundation.
“I love playing basketball. He inspires me by doing what he’s doing now,” said Rain’y Winkfield, who lives in the neighborhood.
And while Dwyane Wade said he can’t solve Chicago’s violence problems alone, he said working together can bring a change.
“It’s been a tough summer in Chicago. It’s been a tough time for our family of late. But to be able to be here today and see smiles on everyone’s face is amazing,” he said.