ESPN Premieres 'Benji' About The Life Of Slain Basketball Hopeful, Ben Wilson
Tuesday night ESPN premiered Benji, the latest in its 30 for 30 documentary series. Benji, from directors Coodie & Chike, a.k.a. Coodie Simmons and Chike Ozah, chronicles the life and death of Chicago high school basketball star Ben “Benji” Wilson, who was murdered in 1984 at the age of 17.
The documentary covers other pivotal moments that happened in 1984 Chicago, such as Michael Jordan beginning his career with the Chicago Bulls and Harold Washington's term as the city's first African American mayor. Benji also explores the character of Billy Moore, who at the age of 16 was convicted of murdering Wilson during a mugging.
Wilson attended Simeon Vocational High School, where he became the first Chicago-area player to be ranked the No.1 player in the nation. As a junior he led Simeon to a state championship, and at the time it looked like Simeon might continue their reign as champions, but Wilson was killed the day before the first game of his senior year.
Simeon has since become a basketball powerhouse, winning an Illinois-best, six-state championships and playing host to such distinguished alumni as current NBA superstar Derrick Rose and former NBA player Nick Anderson. Currently, Jabari Parker, arguably the top high school player in the country, attends Simeon. Wilson wore No. 25, which Anderson wore throughout his career in his honor. It was also Rose's number in high school. Parker, who was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated earlier this year, wears number No. 22, but asked for No. 25 to be stitched into the team’s shoes.
Ben Wilson is survived by his son, Brandon Wilson, who grew up in New York City. Brandon was a standout high school player and played in college for the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. —Hal Sundt