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 Ben “Benji” Wilson

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Ben “Benji” Wilson

Birth
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Death 21 Nov 1984 (aged 17)
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Burial Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Memorial ID 16782697 · View Source
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Basketball Player. Ben "Benji" Wilson was widely regarded as the best high school basketball player in the country heading into the 1984-85 season. On the eve of his senior season, as he walked down the sidewalk near his school, Wilson was shot and killed. As a junior, he led Simeon Vocational High School of Chicago (now known as Simeon Career Academy) to the state title. Wilson was 6 feet 8 and adjusted into his quickly growing body while retaining passing and ball handling ability from his days as a guard. Wilson was invited to attend the prestigious Nike All-American camp. His versatility and feel for the game led many recruiting observers and head coaches to label Wilson the No. 1 player in the nation going into his senior season. His future seemed secure - just a few years in college before riches in the National Basketball Association (NBA). It was not to be. Instead, on November 20, 1984, a tragic serious of events resulted in Wilson's murder. As he walked between two gang members, Wilson accidentally bumped one of the youths. Wilson immediately excused himself, but his perceived act of disrespect angered them. A gun was pulled out and Wilson was shot. He died the next day. Wilson's death touched a nerve, producing outrage and demands for street violence to end. The tragic story was highlighted on local and network TV news. His wake lasted 12 hours and was attended by more than 10,000 people. Wilson's death highlighted the cycle of violence in urban areas in the United States, whereby young people – even promising young athletes – are killed in senseless violence. In his honor, several NBA players have worn jersey number "25". His story was the focus of a 1997 Nike advertisement that aired during the NBA Playoffs, which featured an aged man stating:"One out of every five black men die before they reach the age of twenty-five. That was Benji's number. Benji was the first in Chicago history to ever be named top high school player in the nation, right before he was gunned down. But you know what? Benji's not dead: Benji's spirit lives on in every jump shot. Remember: Shoot over brothas, not at them."

Bio by: William Seitz


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  • Created by: Ron Buchinski
  • Added: 25 Nov 2006
  • Find A Grave Memorial 16782697
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Ben “Benji” Wilson (18 Mar 1967–21 Nov 1984), Find A Grave Memorial no. 16782697, citing Oak Woods Cemetery, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Ron Buchinski (contributor 46492445) .