Joakim Noah’s Quest for Peace in Chicago


Joakim Noah’s passion extends beyond the court. The Chicago Bulls’ 6’11” center has become infamous for his effort, intensity and passion displayed on the court. Noah can often be seen and heard celebrating plays made by himself and teammates with high-fives, fist pumps, chest poundings and primal savage-like screams. While it may seem at times that Joakim Noah is driven by nothing but winning, he does have other goals and passions.

One of those goals is to promote peace and curb the violence in Chicago. Noah has spent all seven of his years as a professional basketball player as a member of the Bulls. During this time, violence in Chicago has swelled to previously unimaginable heights. Now, the passionate center is setting his sights on finding a solution to this growing problem.

“When we walked into the gym with the kids, the love from the community gave me the same butterflies I get when I suit up for the Chicago Bulls at the United Center.” – Joakim Noah

Noah has been involved in previous efforts to promote peace within the community including the annual Peace Basketball Tournament held at St. Sabina Church on the city’s SouthWest side. The event, brings together members of different Chicago gangs and places them on teams with one another. Noah has worked as an organizer, coach and play-by-play announcer at the annual event along with teammates Taj Gibson, Derrick Rose and former NBA players Quentin Richardson and Isaiah Thomas.

After the games the players and Noah gathered to talk about the experience. Players spoke of “waking up” and getting off the streets and onto a better path. Many left the tournament inspired, including Noah who was moved by the event and inspired to continue helping the community.

"“What I witnessed was different gangs, different religions and different kinds of people joining forces to address the problems that affect a community they all share. I felt we accomplished our goal on a micro level for that one day, and hopefully the effects will stretch far beyond. I am completely humbled to have been a part of the Peace Tournament, and am even more inspired to continue to find ways that we can help these neighborhoods.” – Joakim Noah"

Noah’s passion to inspire Chicago’s youth and promote peace in the community has only grown. Through his foundation, Noah’s Arc which he started alongside his mother Cecilia Rohde, Noah aims to help children tap into their unique passions and achieve their full potential in all areas of their lives.

The Noah’s Arc Foundation hosted its own Peace Tournament this past March in Chicago as well as a GIRLS (Girls Inspiring, Reaching, Leading and Shining) Day. These events continue to empower and impact the youth in Chicago to make positive choices for their future. No one however leaves these events more inspired than the host himself, Joakim Noah.

Noah’s competitive spirit on the court is unmatched. His drive and determination amidst controversy and seemingly insurmountable odds is praised at every opportunity. Today I’d like to praise Noah’s drive not on the court but in the community. Noah has dedicated so much of himself to the city, but with violence continuing the climb, the passionate Noah is planning to step up his efforts in the community even more.

Noah announced today via a press release from his Noah’s Arc Foundation that he plans to hold a news conference this afternoon at a community center to provide new tactics to combat gun violence. Noah’s plan is said to involve the cooperation of several community organizations.

In a world where headlines are typically dominated by scandals and controversy I feel it’s important to take the time to highlight the good NBA players do for the community. Leading in these community efforts is Joakim Noah, a man who deserves our praise for his contributions off the court as much as on.

From his play alone Noah has grown to become my favorite player in the NBA. His drive, passion and dedication to bettering the community have made him one of my heroes.