It wasn't supposed to happen this way. The number that we should all have associated with him should have been 25. But due to a tragic set of circumstances and just the unfairness of life, the number he will forever be associated with is 669. The 'he'in question is Ben Wilson and he was the 669th person to be murdered in Chicago in 1984.
"Who was Ben Wilson?" some of you non-basketball afficianoados may ask yourself. He was a 6'8 dynamo. He could dribble, he could pass, he could shoot, he rebound, to put it bluntly there was literally nothing that the kid could not do. And unfortunately it also meant that he was not immune to the violence in which plagued his community then and continues to do so today. And what was the trangression that set off a chain of events that continues to affect people today? "Excuse me." That's what Ben said to two young men when walking with his girlfriend that caused the confrontation that ended his life.
His is a story filled with what-ifs and questions to God asking why he was seemingly struck down in the prime of his life. A player who had yet to come close to the zenith of his abilities. The impact he could have had on the college and pro games could have altered the course of basketball history. Had he gone to Illinois as expected he would have teamed with future NBA all-stars Nick Anderson and Kendall Gill. Hell, they may have even beat the Michigan squad which eventually won the National title the year he would have been a senior. But instead the world will never know.
But there has been one positive to come out of this. Whether it's fair or not, Benji Wilson is used as a cautionary tale for every young man growing up in the city. Whether it's your fault or not, you can be taken away. I'll end with this classy commercial that says what we all feel when we hear stories like this; "shoot over brothers, not at them."