ESPN Films Benji: Ben Wilson Paints a Chilling Tale Through Lens of Sports

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IOctober 24, 2012

What happened to Ben Wilson could have happened to anyone.

The difference is that Wilson was the top high school basketball player in the country before he was shot and killed on Chicago's South Side in November 1984.

"Benji," the latest in ESPN Films' 30 for 30 series, painted a haunting picture of a young life, full of promise, cut short. It shows how fragile life is, whether you are a budding star on the basketball court or not.

Here was a kid with a wealth of potential. Wilson was the pride of Chicago, and led Simeon Vocational High School to its first state title. Everyone in the Chicago area knew who Wilson was, and many tried to emulate him.

Former NBA player Nick Anderson, Wilson's friend and teammate at Simeon, wore No. 25 in his honor. So did Juwan Howard, a former neighbor of Wilson's. So did Derrick Rose, who led Simeon to two straight national championships.

Wilson's story is a reminder to live life to its fullest. The impact that he made throughout the Chicago was fully evident in the 10,000-plus attendees of his 12-hour memorial service, and it is still felt today as those who held him close to their hearts continue to keep his name alive.

Perhaps what we can all take from Wilson's death is that tragedies are an all too real part of life, but we can make the most of the good while it lasts. Embrace your potential, embrace the potential of others, and never take anything for granted. Pursue your dreams with fervor, the way Wilson did before his tragic death.

A precious life was unexpectedly cut short in November 1984, but what Ben Wilson did in a short period of time will live on forever.

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