Mohammed, a free agent who played for the Bulls the last two seasons, is back in Chicago this week for his third annual Nazr Mohammed Foundation fundraiser.
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Chicago's Mohammed committed to his community

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By Sam Smith | 07.29.2014 | 9:05 a.m. CT | asksam@bulls.com | @SamSmithHoops

Nazr Mohammed doesn’t know where his body will be for the 2014-15 NBA season. But we know where his heart is: Chicago.

Mohammed, a free agent who played for the Bulls the last two seasons, is back in Chicago this week for his third annual Nazr Mohammed Foundation fundraiser.

This year’s is to benefit the University of Chicago’s Kovler Diabetes Center as well as a portion to his Chicago Village Project that supports urban youth in Chicago. This year’s event—tickets are $100 and can be purchased at the door or at NazrMohammed.com—is at Galleria Marchetti, 825 W. Erie on Friday in Chicago. It’s an elegant facility for parties and events founded by Joe Marchetti of the Como Inn.

But the impressive element once again is Bulls’ players commitments to the community.

This past weekend it was Joakim Noah and his Noah’s Arc Foundation with events to promote the foundation and Noah’s work against the youth violence in the city. Noah paid for public service announcements under a campaign, “Stand up Chicago.” Mayor Emanuel and the Bulls are participating.

Noah asks in the 60-second public service announcements that the local stations are running, “Chicago, what do you stand for?”

It’s an effort against the gun violence that remains a bloody stain on the fabric of Chicago life.

Derrick Rose and music figure/actor Common also participate in the announcements and the program.

“I stand by my city. Stand up for peace,” says Rose.

“I feel this is all our problem; not just the south side, the west side,” Noah said. “It’s horrifying what is happening. To say, ‘It’s not my neighborhood’ has nothing to do with it. That’s not right. It’s a city problem.”

Mohammed, a Chicago native who now lives in Louisville, Ky., still remains active in his home city. His foundation also works regularly with Chicago youth. One of his principal activities is his Village Project, which regularly gets together 100 teenagers from Chicago and provides seminars on issues they’ll deal with over two days in trying to help them find better directions for their lives.

“Part of my thing is to reach out and talk, have an open forum for these young people,” said Mohammed, who attended Kenwood Academy.

Mohammed is another of several Bulls players doing community work, which can make one proud of not only the team’s accomplishments on the basketball court.

Mohammed selects different organizations each year to help and this year the prime beneficiary will be diabetes research. 

“I have a brother with diabetes and my mom, too, so I’ve been around it my whole life,” says Mohammed. “It’s something important to me, to bring some awareness and have an opportunity to give back.”

As far as being back with the Bulls, Mohammed would like to for a third season. But he doesn’t know.

“I talked to (general manager) Gar (Forman) a couple of days ago. There’s a possibility,” said Mohammed, who is a free agent. “The Bulls have some things still working and I don’t want to get in the way of that. I’ll wait and see. Coming back, I know there wouldn’t be much opportunity to play (with the additions of Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic). So just stay ready, be a good teammate and practice guy (the Bulls roster now is 12. The minimum is 13 and can go up to 15).

“I’m looking at my options now,” said Mohammed. “Deciding what to do. I’ll make a decision sometime soon. Have to get the kids in school.”

Mohammed has three children, five, eight and 11, and journeyman NBA life isn’t ideal for family life. So he and his wife have decided the next stop will be the last stop. Mohammed said he hopes to play one or two more seasons.

“I’m definitely in the best shape of my life,” he said. “I’m actually too light now working so hard. I still enjoy the game and the competition. I definitely want to play. One more year or two if I can be in the same spot. But I don’t want to have to move my family again. My preference, of course, would be to stay with the Bulls, but I want them to have the flexibility to do what they need to do first.”

Mohammed is doing what he needs to do. And for now it’s again very good for Chicago. Thanks Jo; thanks Nazr.