By Michael O'Brien

Ben Wilson video...

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Found this link over on the ChicagoHoops.com message board. It's a must see.

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AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY, A YOUNG MAN DESTINED FOR GREATNESS
DID YOU EVER SEE THE MOVIE, CORNBREAD, EARL AND ME,
WELL THIS WASN'T A MOVIE, THIS WAS REAL LIFE, BEN WILSON WOULD HAVE MADE IT ALL THE WAY, HE ATTENDED
MARTHA RUGGLES, HE WAS THE TRUTH AND HE WILL NEVER BE
FORGOTTEN!
THE DAY HE DIED, EVERY BALL IN THE CITY STOPPED BOUNCING!
THAT'S WHY WHEN I SEE SOME OF HIS FORMER TEAMMATES
IT IS A GREAT FEELING, I SEE BEN IN THEM, JUST THINK
HOW THEY FELT THAT DAY!
MAY SOMETHING LIKE THIS NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN!
THIS IS WHY NICK ANDERSON WORE NUMBER 25 THE REST OF
HIS LIFE!
BEN WILSON WOULD BE SO PROUD OF THE NEW SIMEON HIGH
SCHOOL!
MAY GOD BLESS THE WILSON FAMILY, MR. MCCRAY, REV.
JACKSON, OPRAH WINFREY, HAROLD WASHINGTON, COACH
BOB HAMBRICK, THE SIMEON HIGH SCHOOL FAMILY AND ALL
THE YOUNG MEN WHO PLAYED WITH BEN WILSON!

this tragedy was felt statewide,i lived in springfield at the time,and i will never forget where i was and what i was doing when i heard the news.the very next year simeon lost to ed horton and springfield lanphier in the quarterfinals.i remember meeting mary wilson at the game,it was a humbling experience.

I never got to see Ben Wilson play but I felt the shock and the sting of death after hearing about the senseless killing of the high school star destine for greatness. Ben's mother and father may you rest your faith in God's hands of understanding.

I was in school the day that this tragic incident happened and they announced it over the intercom. I was a freshmen but I felt the same pain that all the upper classmen felt because through my parents I followed the team to the state championship and other games before that day. I went home and cried that day when I told my mom what happened and when I woke up the next morning and heard the bad news I was in a state of shock. When I got to school that day there was total silence until I reached the cafeteria and I almost broke down when I entered because everyone in there was grieving for him. Ben was a very loved person and trust me he will be remembered forever.

I never saw him play until much later and I really didn't even know who he was until right before his tragic death. And even though I was only 11 I remember feeling a tremendous amount of loss. I felt and still feel that the world really loss someone special, not just an incredible talent but a unifying force that people all over could appreciate. I find myself every so often searching the web for stories on Ben and that is what brings me here this morning. Its hard to believe that it has been almost 25 years, Ben you are still loved, missed, and will be remembered forever. God bless

I never saw him play until my best friend came to my house with a DVD of the state championship game. I always heard the story about his life growing up. I also understood why everyone wore 25 at simeon. I played basketball at a rival school and when we played Simeon at home I always changed my number to 25 in his honor. He paved the way for guys like Bobby Simmons, Brian Notre, Piere Green, Nick Anderson, Cameron Echols and Derrick Rose.

Affectionately known as B.J. Ben Wilson was a true late bloomer. Ben and I are the exact same age. We started high school the same year. Ben grew from 6'0 to 6'5 the summer between freshman and sophomre years. He worked so hard to become great.I remember B.J. returning from the Nike All-American camp summer of '84, he told me Danny Ferry was overrated and what he did to Lowell Hamilton was Ben at his best. I miss going to parties and hanging out!!!!! He had striaght disco moves on the dance floor and was extremely popular with ladies. Very coordinated to still be growing soooooo fast. Ask Micheal Jordan his memories of B.J.

God Bless u ALL!!!!!
All is truly well!!!!!
Lil Fred from Foster Park!!!!!

I did not know about Ben until I came to Springfield in the early 90's. All I can say is THE TRUTH

I remember in 1984, going to Providence St. Mel on the
westside of chicago and being friends with Lowell Hamilton. My brother (Terry Sampson)who played with Benji, kept telling me that he'S the best in high school. Boy! He was ever so True!! Ben Wilson is the Best I have ever seen in chicago--despite zeke, mark, cummings,
hersey, anderson, winters,liberty, dildy, hardaway. I miss him just being alive---God's child. ADRIAN--I miss
u dearly my brother!!!.

I remember in 1984, going to Providence St. Mel on the
westside of chicago and being friends with Lowell Hamilton. My brother (Terry Sampson)who played with Benji, kept telling me that he'S the best in high school. Boy! He was ever so True!! Ben Wilson is the Best I have ever seen in chicago--despite zeke, mark, cummings,
hersey, anderson, winters,liberty, dildy, hardaway. I miss him just being alive---God's child. ADRIAN--I miss
u dearly my brother!!!. P.s--the struggle continues, to end a inane genocide!!

I remember hearing of Ben Wilson's death as a 14 year old one morning on the Today show before school. I grew up in Alabama, so I never heard of him before that, but his death stuck with me from that day until now. Wow, what a loss.

For those of you that didn"t get a chance to see Ben play i am so sorry, but if you need to know what his game was like just think of Magic Johnson and Kevin Garnett as one player. Scarey right?

so sad was getting ready to tear college up i remember
in 1984 because my cousin
derrick chievous was a highschool
allamerican in 1984 and he told me about ben wilson
i recently ordered me a copy of a state championship
game with ben doing his thing i am from new york and
i new about benji wilson.

ben was the greatest player i eva saw play, that day back in 84 is still so fresh, what a tragic loss. much love to the wilson family, and the simeon family. benji you will neva be forgotten>

I lived in Evanston until August of 1982 when I moved to Springville, NY (a rural town south of Buffalo, NY). I was to graduate from ETHS in 1983 but I graduated from Springville in 1984. During winter and spring breaks I would go back home to Evanston. I knew many of the players on the 1984 Evanston state final team. I knew Everette Stephens and many of the others. Played street ball on occasion amongst many of them. Everette was one of the best and he went to Purdue and played a bit in the NBA. In sixth grade I played against an 8th grade Corey Blackwell (Wisconsin all american...Short NBA career) in the Chute Middle School 6th grade vs. 8th grade game.

I saw Isaiah Thomas, Doc Rivers, Mark Aguierre, and many others.

The 1984 state title game was on WGN which was a national cable tv staple. While in Springville, NY, I watched that game on WGN and told some of my Springville classmates to watch also. I was proud to be from Evanston. Still wore my Evanston Letterman's jacket (Freshman Football'83) in Springville. The Springville kids were country kids and as far as they knew, I was a big city kid with big city stories of the streets of Chicago. I also had a big city flair with basketball and music. It was if I were from mars to those county kids.

The day after the 1984 state title game, kids came up to me and said, you played with those kids on TV? You played with that Everette Stephens kid? You knew them? Damn...that Stephens kid was good but did you see the kid that beat him? Do all kids in where you are from play like that? That kid, Ben Wilson destroyed your boys. Do you know him?

I was like, no, I don't know him but I know what 'Bird' (Everette) can do. I know what some of the others on that Evanston team can do. But I have never seen anyone like that kid Ben Wilson. That kid was nasty. Better than Aguirre, Isaiah Thomas, Voise Winters, Corey Blackwell, Doc Rivers, Russell Cross, Everette Stephens, Terry Cummings, Evanston's Wesley Wallace.. He played like a Magic Johnson who can shoot and block shots. He destroyed folks I knew...some damn good players. He looked like a man amongst children in that game. A pro amongst amateurs with the exeption of Everette who did have a nasty dunk on Ben and other Simeon players from damn near the free throw line...I think that they called traveling on Bird though...Everette gave it his best but nobody else could do anything against Ben. His defense stifled anything inside.

Ben was easily the best H.S. player I ever saw even to this day. The only one who kind of reminded me of him was Chris Webber in the Mac Donald's game and Chris did not have the range.

Ben was the first kid I ever saw at forward bring the ball down like a point guard on one trip, block a shot like a premier 7 foot center on the next and not just swat it away but grab the blocked shot, start the break with it by throwing a laser pass down court...and quick enough to get down court to finish that same break with a nasty dunk or a deadly accurate long range jumper.

Fast forward to the fall of 1984. I was a freshman at NYU in New York City. I came back to my dorm after classes and the dorm guard aks me "you're from Chicago, they killed this kid who was the number one player in the nation...you ever hear of him? Did you know him?". I knew who he must have been talking about. Verify that it was Ben. It hit me like a ton of bricks even though I never met him or had ever been to Simeon. I cried a brief bit. Told that guard what Ben did to my Evanston people in the state finals. Told him that he was the best HS player I ever saw. Told him how bad Chicago was with the gun and gang violence.

I went upstairs to my dorm and me and my roommates saw the story on the national freakin news. They saw how affected I was. I spoke to a few brothas from Evanston who told me the word on the street as to how and why it happened. And how they had looked forward to the rematch with Simeon that was to open the new season, I think at Evanston.

It really bummed me out. Made me think how lucky I was to be alive, in college. How I made a smart move leaving the street life of Chicago and somehow made into college when many would not have thought such was possible.

I remember when Illinois got to the final 4 in 1989 and they did stories on Nick Anderson, how he saw Ben die and how Benji was supposed to have been on that team. If Ben was on that Illinois team I doubt seriously that anyone would have beaten them. That's how good he was. I told my NY City friends while we were watching the NCAA about Ben. Some remembered me telling them about him in 1984 when he died.

The person who said that Ben was like if you merged Magic Johnson with Kevin Garnett was right. Magic, with his big body and ball handling and passing skills and Garnette with his shot blocking and shooting skills....all wrapped up in Benji.

The story was kindof like Cornbread, Earl and Me or even more so, Cooley High.

Sad we never even got to see the kid fully develop.

Still one of the saddest things I ever heard of.

Even tho i just turned 20 and never got to see the great Benji Wilson play I've heard all the stories and seen a few highlights. It's a true tragedy that shocked the entire world. Watching the story I felt sad as if I knew him and even have a picture of him locked n my phone. Sad to see someone whose so young with so much talent and potential die so young. I pray for his family, friends and anyone who had to go through that situation. I wish i could watch a couple game tapes of him. He lives on forever with every jumpshot, Rip Ben Wilson:

I just saw a story on Ben Wilson on 30/30 that was very tragic. I cried even though I didn't even know him. So sad how his future got taken away from at such an early age. My son plays basketball now and he loves the sport. He also seen the story of Ben Wilson and strives to be great like him one day. God bless

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This page contains a single entry by Michael O'Brien published on November 9, 2008 2:12 PM.

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