*Tonight, ESPN wraps its four-part documentary series “RISE UP,” which chronicles the transformation of high school athletic facilities in desperate need of an extreme makeover.
The series launched a year ago with “RISE UP: New Orleans,” which followed the upgrade efforts at Eleanor McMain Secondary School in New Orleans, the first public school to re-open after Hurricane Katrina.
This year the “RISE UP” crew documented the athletic facility makeovers of Wellston High School in Wellston, Ohio, Dorchester Education Complex in Boston, Massachusetts, Ingraham High School in Seattle, Washington, and, in tonight’s episode, the Walter H. Dyett High School in Chicago.
“Four communities come together to renovate and rebuild their sports facilities, but simultaneously we are transforming where these young athletes play,” notes Keith Clinkscales, the Senior Vice President for Content Development and Enterprises at ESPN. “We will also focus on giving students advice, training, and tools that they can use to be better athletes, better citizens, better people.”
Los Angeles Lakers star Shannon Brown, who secretly wed singer Monica last November, played his high school basketball at Proviso East High School in Maywood, Illinois, near the school featured in tonight’s episode. This past summer, Brown held his third week-long basketball camp, offered free for kids in his hometown.
“We feed them. We teach them basketball skills. We promote health. We promote mental wellness and mental stability,” he told us in July of his annual camp, comparing his efforts to that of “RISE UP.”
“I’m actually doing something similar. I’m doing a carnival and concert back at my high school and it’s all about renovating and giving back to my high school,” he told us. “We’re trying to renovate the gyms. We’re trying to renovate the classrooms, pretty much the whole school. So I think it’s a great thing that they’re doing at ‘RISE UP,’ and I can relate to it.”
Brown says a renovated athletic facility has a tangible psychological effect on the kids who use them.
“It starts to promote the physical and the mental health of the kids also,” he says. “When they see these gyms getting renovated, they go out, they want to start working out. They look good, feel good. They want to go out there. Everybody’s not going to become a professional athlete, but as long as you can, stay mentally healthy and physically healthy, you can go out and you call tell somebody else, which can start a trickle-down effect. So we know that the rebuilding of the gyms and everything is just tremendous.”
The final episode of ESPN’s “RISE UP” airs tonight [Oct. 4] at 7 p.m. [Watch a preview below.]