Ben Wilson: ESPN 30 for 30 Documentary Raises More Questions Than It Answers

Darin Pike@darinpikeContributor IOctober 24, 2012

The story of the short life and death of Ben Wilson was resurrected in "Benji." The latest episode of ESPN's 30 for 30 series offered a look into the circumstances surrounding Wilson's death but also left the details of the tragic death in question.

Providing an answer to why Wilson was shot wasn't the focus of the documentary, though. 

Chicago-born director Coodie Simmons had a more altruistic goal in mind. He wanted to reach and connect with at-risk youth in his home town and across the U.S.

Our whole thing was we wanted to make thugs cry. You know what I'm saying?

They say these kids today are immune to death, but that was a greater death. It was something really powerful for Ben Wilson to die.

The death certainly was powerful. It ripped Chicago to the core in 1984. His passing left a mother without one of her sons, a city less one hero and, most importantly, meant one more child would grow up without his father.

Sad and tragic as it was, I'm not convinced "Benji" will evoke tears in most viewers, let alone the targeted "thugs." But it should at least make them recognize the potential reach of their actions.

Viewers are left questioning exactly what did happen on the streets of Chicago. 

It was widely accepted that Wilson was the victim of a robbery. When he refused to surrender his wallet he was shot twice and died the next morning. 

Billy Moore was convicted of the crime but painted a different version of the altercation. He stated Wilson was the protagonist in the shooting and that the gun shots were made out of fear. 

Regardless of the circumstances, this story is a cautionary tale that is even more fitting now than in 1984.

Some kids might be out there that we can never reach and recover, but there's a whole new generation of kids coming up.

If they can see this movie and be inspired to figure out what their potential and passion is...I think this story transcends past the passion of basketball.

Chike Ozah, filmmaker and co-director of "Benji"

This story will continue to be told in one shape or another. If it isn't the story of Ben Wilson, it will be Michael Haynes, who was shot and killed over the summer while attempting to mitigate a dispute.

Or it will be the senseless shooting of another Chicago youth, Kordero Hunter, who was killed in 2011. He had transferred from Northern Illinois University to Central State and appeared to have his life on track prior to being lost in a nightclub shooting in Dayton, Ohio. 

This movie doesn't pretend to offer answers to the underlying issues of poverty and lack of hope, but perhaps it will give desperate people pause before they add another name to the tragic list of senseless deaths.


Darin Pike is a writer for Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team and a Featured Columnist covering the NFL and Seattle Seahawks.


    Iconic Sports Illustrated Writer Deford Dies at Age 78

    Media logo

    Iconic Sports Illustrated Writer Deford Dies at Age 78

    Tyler Conway
    via Bleacher Report