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Archive for the ‘Illinois Tattoo’

Chicago police warn residents of ‘polite’ suspect wanted in over 20 armed robberies in one month – Fox News12.28.21

Chicago police are warning residents of a "polite" gunman who is wanted in more than 20 robberies over the last month.

Police say the armed suspect has robbed more than 20 people on the North and West sides since the end of November, while typically "speaking in a polite manner."


"On more than one occasion, he has signaled the cashier to keep quiet by placing his index finger to his lips," police said in the alert, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Hes accused of typically approaching people from behind as they enter an apartment building, while pulling out a gun and taking their money, cell phones and jewelry, police say.

Chicago police officers work at the scene near where two officers were shot at 63rd Street and Bell Avenue in Chicago on Aug. 7, 2021. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images) (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

He has also targeted convenience stores, liquor stores, a clothing store and a fast-food restaurant. He has sometimes entered a business while pulling out a gun, but fled before taking anything.


The suspect is described as Black, being somewhere between 5-foot-9 to 6-foot-2, and often wearing a black mask and hoodie. Its also possible he has a neck tattoo, according to police.

He was driving a silver Mitsubishi with Texas plates in the latest description of the suspect. Police say he often uses rental cars with out-of-state license plates.

hicago, USA - July 11, 2012: Chicago police patch on the arm of an officer at the Taste of Chicago. (iStock)

Crimes are currently plaguing the Windy City. Chicago police data shows there has been a 20% increase in theft crimes in the city from January to Dec. 19 of this year compared to the same time frame last year. Robbery crimes are about the same this year compared to last, sitting at 7,633 robberies as of Dec. 19 this year.


Murders are up 5% so far this year compared to last and criminal sexual assaults are up 29%.


Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot called on the federal government to assist with the increase in crimes, noting that she knows "people are scared."

Chicago's Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks during a science initiative event at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. July 23, 2020. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski (REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski)

She asked U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday to send in agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for six months to increase the number of gun investigations and gun seizures.


She said her goal is to "proactively and relentlessly bring peace to our city once and for all."

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Chicago police warn residents of 'polite' suspect wanted in over 20 armed robberies in one month - Fox News

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Nathson Fields, the Midnight Crew, and the epic 40-year battle from death row against Chicago police torture – The Independent11.13.21

The trees were what struck him first. In 2003, after spending nearly 12 years on death row in Illinois for a double murder he didnt commit, Nathson Fields was released on bond and bowled over by these abundant fonts of life.

I hadnt been under a tree in 18 years, he told The Independent. It was totally alive. It just captivated me and I almost missed a step and fell on my face.

A death sentence, by design, is a punishment not meant to offer rehabilitation or be survived. Instead, its usually a final, irreversible break from society. So when Fields, who goes by Nate, got a second chance, the world itself seemed incredibly foreign and new, and he had to relearn how to be a part of it, starting with the basics.

The cars seemed to just be going incredibly fast, said Fields, who was acquitted in 2009, nearly three decades after being framed for a 1984 gang killing. I said, I need to figure this out man. His nephews, eight and nine years old, had to help him across the street at first.

He would need to reserve his strength. Even once he got out, Fields would spend another decade in the courts taking on the police and courts who had abused and mistakenly sent him and numerous other Black men to rot in prison or die on death row.

In the process, he and a dedicated group of death row inmates, crusading lawyers, journalists, and community activists would unearth corruption, wrongful conviction, and racist torture on an epic, systematic scale in the city of Chicago. They would move even Republican politicians to reconsider capital punishment at the height of the tough-on-crime era, and, for all their success, they would reveal just how much still needs to change to secure equal justice in the city.

Violence found Nate Fields before Nate Fields found violence. A decorated high school wrestler, Fields was on a path towards college when he entered gang life as a way to protect his younger brother, who had been jumped and viciously beaten.

I had high aspirations, and a for sure scholarship, he said. I was going to college. I wanted to go. I couldnt wait to get there. The incident happened with my brother where he came home all bloodied up. I just couldnt deal with that, seeing my brother like that, so I said, Let em know, Im a part now.

By 17, Nate was part of his first murder case, after he and group of friends chanced upon rival gang members at a party. A friend was the one who actually shot someone, while Fields was fighting other people in a nearby alley, but they were all charged together.

Nate spent the next 12 years in prison, where he got his GED, started college coursework, and led a prison wrestling team. Once he got out, though, he needed a place to stay, and he took a job maintaining a building controlled by Chicagos notorious El Rukn gang.

I said I would do it, so I could have a place to stay, he said. (Chicago police argued Fields was more than a simple maintenance man for the El Rukn, and instead was part of other criminal activities).

Between the 1970s and and 1990s, Chicago police on the citys largely Black South Side were accused of torturing suspects and falsifying evidence to secure convictions.

(Courtesy of Anand Swaminathan)

The El Rukns were led by the charismatic Jeff Fort, a man at once known for running community empowerment programmes on the largely Black South Side of Chicago, and for being at the head of what one expert at the time dubbed the first super gang, for the groups mafia-style tactics, brutality, and widespread criminal enterprises. On April 28, 1984, Talman Hickman and Jerome Smith, members of the El Rukns rival Black Gangster Disciples gang, were shot and killed by men in masks. This set in motion Fields second trip to prison for a murder he didnt commit.

Things mightve been different if Fields had worn long sleeves, but it was a hot day in June of 1985 when, after more than a year of fruitless investigation, Chicago police decided to arrest Fields for the murders. In the lineup room, they kept making him roll up his short sleeve shirt even further to show the El Rukn tattoo on his arm. He tried to roll the sleeve back down, before he says an officer told him, You do that again, Im going to run your head through that wall.

As he stood there, he remembers wondering who was looking in at him from the observation room, knowing even then something had gone horribly wrong.

I knew I was getting framed, he said. I knew I hadnt done nothing.

He was taken to wait in a freezing room for hours, then shackled and harshly interrogated by a police officer in cowboy boots, who he recalls standing over him, the officers crotch in his face. Nate said he eventually became fed up with this humiliation and stood up to get the man out of his face, prompting officers to accuse him of getting fresh with them, beating him with a billy club as punishment and screaming about how they were cracking down on the El Rukns.

An officer rolls up Nathson Fieldss sleeve to reveal a gang tattoo during a police lineup.

(Courtesy of Anand Swaminathan)

And crack down they did: in 1986, Fields and El Rukn hitman Earl Hawkins were convicted of the murders and sentenced to death, a punishment affirmed on appeal four years later.

When he got to death row, the experience was surreal. I was thinking something was going to happen and I was going to wake up. I just couldnt believe what was happening, he said. Its gotta be a dream, but I was never waking up.

At night, men in adjoining cells screamed and howled in turmoil, calling out the names of distant loved ones or forgotten co-conspirators. After spending enough time on death row, the men would become close with each other, though those friendships could only last until the state set an execution date, and the inmates would hear the whoop of the helicopter coming to take them to the Illinois execution chamber. One man on death row even made a guitar from found materials and would play funeral songs when one of their own was executed, managing to stash the instrument before guards ever found it.

Through his more than a decade on death row, Nate taught himself how to navigate the legal system, filing Freedom of Information Act requests and petitioning Chicago authorities for access to his police file, believing somehow he could prove the courts and the police got it wrong.

I just prayed I could stay alive long enough to see it. I dont know what happened. But I knew that evidence did not find me guilty, he said.

Oddities in his case kept popping up, such as a conspicuously small amount of evidence files on the record, given the more than a year Chicagos finest spent on the case, a lack of paperwork Fields found totally unbelievable in a double murder. And Fields began to think that it wasnt just his case where some malignant force, as-of-yet hidden, had influenced the process.

I looked around and I saw young men. I saw boys in these cells. And all of them was looking out at me, he said. They was young. Some was old. Some was like 18 years old. I couldnt believe this was death row. Every face I saw, I cant believe all these people had done something so awful. I just couldnt believe it.

Nathson Fieldss cell in Illinois prison.

(Courtesy of Anand Swaminathan)

Unbelievable wouldnt even begin to describe what eventually came to life about how Chicago officials sent these men to their deaths.

It would be hard to find a more transparent example of judicial rot than Judge Thomas Maloney, who sent Fields and at least five others to death row. In 1993, Maloney, who is now deceased, was convicted on federal charges, after a judicial corruption investigation called Operation Greylord discovered Maloney had fixed multiple cases and taken a $10,000 bribe from the lawyer of Earl Hawkins, Nates co-defendant in the murder case, before later returning it once he feared he was under investigation. By the time Maloney was behind bars, Hawkins had gotten off of death row, after agreeing to help prosecutors in other gang cases.

Given the news, in 1996, a new trial was ordered for Fields, and while the retrial process began, two key witnesses from the original case, Gerald Morris and Randy Langston, recanted their statements that they had seen Fields and Hawkins conduct the gang killing. In sworn affidavits, the two confessed their identification was the result of police coercion, and that they had no idea who killed the Black Gangster Disciples because the shooters had worn masks.

Appeals consumed the retrial for nearly another decade. By the time it made it to the courtroom, Hawkins made a deal to testify against Fields to avoid the death penalty, and prosecutors presented an entirely new scenario, now characterising their partner as merely the getaway driver instead of one of the shooters, as he had been described during the original case.

Under cross examination, Hawkins eventually admitted to being involved in at least 15 murders while he was an El Rukn, leading the judge in the retrial to wonder aloud, If someone has such disregard for human life, what regard will he have for his oath? Nate Fields was acquitted in 2009.

Nathson Fields was acquitted in 2009, decades after he was sent to Illinois death row.

(Courtesy of Anand Swaminathan)

It was very relieving to be finally acknowledged. That meant so much to me, Fields said. For a moment I was right on the verge of shifting. The system just seemed like it couldnt correct itself. It seemed like it kept dragging on what was so right to do.

In 2003, while the retrial was ongoing, Fields got his first taste of freedom. Friend and fellow death row inmate Aaron Patterson had been pardoned in 2003, after allegations Chicago police had tortured him into confessing to a double murder. Patterson took out a loan against his forthcoming state compensation payment and bailed out Fields, whom he had met in county jail. It was one many reminders that men on Illinois death row were bonded by more than just their current address. Many had been victims of the same flagrant abuses, a fact that became apparent to them over the years they spent together with little to do but talk to each other and try to legally fight their way out of prison.

All of sudden somebody would say hey, That happened to me. Somebody put a bag over my head at the police station, and somebody would say, Yeah, he hit me with a phone book, Fields said. It was like it was all coming out of a certain police district, and we didnt know we were talking about Jon Burge, every one of those guys.

Soon, a lot more than just death row inmates would be talking about Chicago police commander Jon Burge.

Though it took years before the public was aware, former Chicago police commander Jon Burge and his subordinates, the so-called Midnight Crew, were accused of forcing people into confessions using tactics that would make even a dictator shiver. Documents suggest they systematically tortured and abused more than 100 Black men on Chicagos South Side between the 1970s and 1990s, using electric shocks, cattle prods, mock suffocations, Russian roulette, shackles to hot radiators, and a bevy of other horrors to get young men of colour to admit to whatever the police accused them of.

One of the things they did was, they would put phone books against the body, so that it would spread out the impact because it wouldnt leave a mark, Lauren Myerscough-Mueller, a staff attorney at the University of Chicagos Exoneration Project, told The Independent. They would use typewriter bags to suffocate people. There were reports of cigarette burns. People were not allowed to talk to their families or lawyers, were not given food or drink or use of the bathroom. It was really terrible what was going on.

Ironically, it took the killing of two Chicago police officers to reveal the scale of torture under Burge, who has since died.

In 1982, two CPD officers were gunned down, triggering a massive, hard-knuckle dragnet search across the city for a cop killer on the loose. One detective involved in the effort compared it to a reign of terror and Kristallnacht, the infamous Nazi pogrom. Officers eventually arrested Andrew and Jackie Wilson.

Andrew told his public defender he had been burned, suffocated, shocked in his genitals, and kicked in the eye during his interrogation, and a medical examination revealed burns on his thigh, chest, and puncture marks on his nose and ears, which Andrew said came from electric clamps.

He was abused so badly that he had to be rushed out to hospital, and thats when it started to come to light that these things were happening, but it was covered up so much it didnt come to light to the public, Myerscough-Mueller said.

Aaron Cheney demonstrates outside the federal courthouse where former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge was attending a hearing on charges he obstructed justice and committed perjury for lying while under oath during a 2003 civil trial about decades-old Chicago police torture allegations October 27, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois.

((Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images))

Andrew Wilson died in prison, but in 1991 the city acknowledged he had been tortured, and two years later, Burge was fired, the same year the police union planned to honor him with a float in the citys South Side Irish parade, before the stunt was cancelled amid public outcry. (Burge was never tried for the torture itself, but was convicted in 2010 of obstruction of justice and perjury in the case of Madison Hobley, a torture surivor. Burge served five years in prison, before being released and dying in 2018.)

Race plays a huge role in all of it, Myerscough-Mueller said. John Burge and his subordinates were by and large doing this to young Black men, the vast majority. That was kind of just how they worked. One of the things that the thought is that they in certain neighbourhoods the thought was, Well, these guys are probably in gangs and should be off the street anyway, what does it matter if we get the wrong one?

But it wasnt just one sadistic police commander who was shown to be abusing Black people. It was the entire system.

By the late 1990s, amid the Oklahoma City bombing and Bill Clintons embrace of tough-on-crime policies, support for executions was at its peak nationally, while efforts to end capital punishment in Illinois reached a fever pitch.

In 1998, a group of African-American death row inmates in Illinois called the Death Row 10, began raising the alarm about police torture and prosecutorial misconduct in Chicago, calling into churches and classrooms from behind bars to share their stories directly to the people. Their cause eventually picked up high-profile allies like activist Bianca Jagger, former wife of Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger.

At the same time, a series of bombshell investigations from the Chicago Tribune confirmed the scale and cruelty of Illinoiss application of justice. They document how the States Attorneys office at the time had a contest they called N*****s by the Pound, where prosecutors would have individuals weighed after being convicted, competing to see who could put 4,000 pounds worth of people of colour behind bars first. These same prosecutors, the Tribune showed, were abysmal at properly handling criminal cases, having 207 out of 326 state court convictions between 1977 and 1999 overturned for prosecutorial misconduct. Among those cases overturned were 67 where the death penalty had been handed out. By 1999, modern death row executions and exonerations were tied in Illinois. All this lead the paper to conclude that justice in Illinois was so plagued by unprofessionalism, imprecision and bias that ... the states ultimate form of punishment [was] its least credible.

Former Illinois governor George Ryan, who set in motion the states full abolition of capital punishment.

(Getty Images)

The groundswell of activism inspired then Illinois governor George Ryan, a Republican, to issue a moratorium on the death penalty in January 2000, saying, Until I can be sure with moral certainty that no innocent man or woman is facing a lethal injection, no one will meet that fate.

The governor also called for a commission to study capital punishment, which revealed even deeper disparities: defendants in rural counties were twice as likely to be sentenced to death, and those accused of killing white people were three times more likely to get the death penalty than those accused of killing Black people.

Illinois Governor George Ryan pardoned four victims of police torture in 2003, and cleared the states death row, amid shocking findings of system-wide abuses and discrimination.

(Getty Images)

In 2003, in his final days in office, Ryan pardoned four victims of Chicago police torture, including Aaron Patterson, the man who bailed out Nate Fields, and commuted the sentence of every single person on death row.

Our capital system is haunted by the demon of error error in determining guilt, and error in determining who among the guilty deserves to die, the governor said. Because of all of these reasons today I am commuting the sentences of all death row inmates.

Capital punishment was outlawed entirely in Illinois in 2011.

Still, even with his freedom, and unequivocal proof that policing and prosecution in Illinois were beyond tainted, Fieldss fight against Chicago police was just beginning.

Now, he was going for the jugular. In 2010, Nate sued the city, as well as individual prosecutors and officers, arguing his constitutional rights had been violated in a criminal trial filled with fabricated and intentionally withheld exculpatory evidence.

His most important claim was that Chicago had a de facto policy of withholding street files from men accused of crimes, notes from officers that hadnt been officially catalogued yet but contained evidence that could potentially show a defendants innocence and were difficult to subpoena, or locate in the first place.

After yet another series of trials continuing through 2014, Fields learned for the first time that his co-defendant Earl Hawkins had made a secret plea deal in exchange for testimony that allowed him to get out of jail 13 years early.

Another new trial was called, and this time, a federal court found that the witholding of street files in Fieldss case included evidence of systemic underproduction of police reports that was sufficient to show a systemic failing that went beyond his own case. He was awarded $22 million, one of the largest police misconduct judgements in US history.

Nathson Fields case against the city helped uncover a basement in a Chicago police station containing decades of street file records that were kept from accused criminals and couldve helped secure their innocence..

(Courtesy of Anand Swaminathan)

In the course of case, Fieldss attorneys won access to a dingy basement in a South Side police station, filled with seven decades of street files that had been forgotten, perhaps intentionally. A review found that among a selection of cases, 90 per cent had information in their street file that never made its way to the accused. The files contained officers handwritten notes, lineup cards, and other crucial information that had never been given to defendants, including in Fieldss case. More than 80 pages of potentially exculpatory information, including promising leads on other suspects, had never been shared with him.

The city waited years to pay out Fieldss judgement, and appealed it to a federals appeals court, before the decision was upheld in December 2020. After spending more than half his life fighting charges, then a death sentence, then a legal wall, Nate Fields had finally won.

It restored some confidence in me with the system. It the end it did work. It shouldnt have taken this long. But it worked for me, he said.

But sitting in that dank Chicago records room was evidence of how many hundreds of other men just like him had never had the same chance.

I feel theres people out there whose street files, they still dont know anything, he said.

So, Fields plans to do what hes done since he was a hard-charging high school wrestler: keep fighting.

The horrors of the Illinois justice system are by now thoroughly documented, but timely justice hasnt always kept pace with the scope of these revelations. Jon Burge died before he could ever be tried for torture, as the statute of limitations had passed on many of his alleged crimes. Andrew Wilson, whose torture at the hands of the Midnight Crew helped expose Burge, died in prison. Jackie Wilson, Andrews brother, was released from prison only in 2018, after 36 years behind bars, with a judge finding his confession was involuntarily obtained.

The street files like those unearthed in Fieldss case continue to secure exonerations, such as the 2019 release of Demetrius Johnson, who was arrested at age 15 for a 1991 murder. His street file showed witnesses had identified another individual, and that Chicago police had manufactured evidence.

Nathson Fields now works with Witness to Innocence, an organisation of death row exonerees that advocates ending capital punishments.

(Courtesy of Anand Swaminathan)

A 2020 report from Chicagos internal auditor, the Office of the Inspector General, found that until the massive backlog of records in Chicago police custody can be organised, the citys record management and production processes are inadequate to ensure the Department can meet its constitutional and other legal obligations.

Police torture is not over in Chicago, and the aftermath of the Burge torture is not over there are still survivors behind bars fighting their cases, said Maira Khwaja of the Chicago-based journalism nonprofit Invisible Institute, which launched an archive of police torture documents this year. Our primary hope is that this archive can be useful for attorneys, organizers and survivors who continue to seek justice.

The Independent has reached out to the Chicago police department for comment.

Fields is dedicated to fighting for people with similar experiences to him. He is certain racism absolutely absolutely absolutely played a role in his case, and he wants to help rescue some of the other Black men put behind bars by Chicagos police torture machine during the 80s and 90s.

Im just one. Its not just me, he said. Somebody needs to pick it up and say, Hey, let me look at all these other guys. Theyre human beings too.

Hes also enjoying making up for his lost decade behind bars. He bought a house in the Chicago suburbs. Now he has plenty of time to admire the trees.

The Independent and the nonprofit Responsible Business Initiative for Justice (RBIJ) have launched a joint campaign calling for an end to the death penalty in the US. The RBIJ has attracted more than 150 well-known signatories to their Business Leaders Declaration Against the Death Penalty - with The Independent as the latest on the list. We join high-profile executives like Ariana Huffington, Facebooks Sheryl Sandberg, and Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson as part of this initiative and are making a pledge to highlight the injustices of the death penalty in our coverage.

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Nathson Fields, the Midnight Crew, and the epic 40-year battle from death row against Chicago police torture - The Independent

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Iowa wrestler Tony Cassioppi is a leaner and meaner heavyweight this season. Heres why. – Hawk Central11.02.21

IOWA CITY The new Tony Cassioppi has muscles bursting through his sleeves. Makes it easy to notice the new tattoo, a black cross on his left forearm. It gets bigger when he flexes, and he does that more often nowadays.

The new Tony Cassioppi still smiles that same big, cheesy smile that makes Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands laugh. Last week, Brands looked at Cassioppi, who is headed overseas this week, and cracked a joke.

Are you guys going on vacation to the beach or something after you get back from Serbia? Brands asked.

Cassioppi giggles, then starts laughing. His teammates all start laughing, too.

You see that smile? Brands continued. He loves the mat.

The new Tony Cassioppi will be in action before the rest of the Iowa wrestling team this season. He and Myles Wilson are both competing for Team USA at the U23 mens freestyle world championships this week in Belgrade, Serbia. Cassioppi is the rep at 125 kilograms (275 pounds) and Wilson is the rep at 86 kilos (189).

Both Cassioppi and Wilson will wrestle on the morning of Saturday, Nov. 6 and, if they win, Sunday, Nov. 7. Theyll return in time for the top-ranked Hawkeyes season-opening home dual against No. 21 Princeton, set for Friday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m.

Their participation is intriguing, for a number of reasons.

For Wilson who has a wonderful mullet nowadays (think Sam Brooks circa 2016) its a chance to continue a seemingly rapid ascent. He wrestled just eight matches for the Hawkeyes from 2018-21, yet stormed to a world-team spot in May. Hes in the mix to start at 184 for Iowa this season, alongside Abe Assad and Nelson Brands.

Very excited and ready to go, Wilson said. Were going there to win the thing, so you have to be ready to go, then you come back to the season, already ready to rock and roll.

Its also a chance to see the new Tony Cassioppi in action.

The Illinois native looks like a brand-new man, a leaner, meaner heavyweight wrestler. Hes spent the last seven months meticulously tracking his diet, counting his macros and watching what he eats. Its not that he ate a bunch of junk beforehand. Hes just monitoring it more closely.

More: We need to win it again: New motivations push Iowa wrestling team after NCAA championship

Cassioppi said he now consumes about 300 grams of protein per day, which is about the equivalent of 50 eggs per day. Hes a huge Chipotle guy, much to the chagrin of Iowa natives everywhere who love their Pancheros. His normal order is a bowl with white rice, pinto beans, chicken, cheese, lettuce and sour cream.

I know the macros off the top of my head. Its like 725 calories, 52 grams of protein, 65 grams of carbs, 29 grams of fat, Cassioppi said, and surely theres an NIL deal in the works here.

Im a math major, Cassioppi continued, so I like numbers, and I like having the ability to track that. Tracking it made me pay more attention to what Im putting into my body. Like maybe I ate more carbs at times when I didnt need it before.

The result looks like a ripped-and-chiseled heavyweight wrestler. Cassioppi said he walks around at 250 pounds after sitting closer to 270 over the past two seasons. He basically shed most, if not all, of his baby fat. He feels quicker on the mat, and stronger in certain wrestling positions, too.

My strength is the same, if not stronger, than its ever been, Cassioppi said. I think Im faster, and I can put myself in positions where my strength can really shine even more. Maybe Im half-a-step quicker to a position and that gives me a lot more leverage so I feel a lot more stronger in that position.

Im just continuously working to improve my wrestling in any way I can, he continued, and I thought maybe leaning out a little bit and getting a little quicker would help my wrestling.

Thats the key point here "continuously working to improve my wrestling" because that comment reveals Cassioppis intent behind his body transformation.

Last season, Cassioppi took third at the NCAA Championships, scoring 16.5 team points for an Iowa team that scored 129 points and won the 24th national team title in program history. But he finished behind both Minnesotas Gable Steveson and Michigans Mason Parris.

Steveson won Olympic gold this past summer, and Parris is a past Junior world champ. Cassioppi is sick of looking up at both of them. He is 33-6 over the last two seasons. Against Steveson and Parris, hes a combined 0-6 (two losses to Parris, four to Steveson). Against everybody else, hes 33-0 with 20 bonus-point wins.

When youre seemingly that far ahead of everybody else but still trailing two of the best in the world, you find whatever edge you can to not only close the gap on the top two, but stay ahead of the rest as well. For Cassioppi, that meant paying closer attention to his diet and shedding a few pounds to get a little stronger and move a little quicker.

Any time you think you know everything and you close your mind to wisdom and getting better every day, you're setting yourself up and you're violating excellency, Brands added, because an open mind, open ears, open eyes is important to getting better, no matter what you do. Youve got to have an open mind.

If you're not a predator in this sport all the time if you're not hungry for more and you're complacent, it's probably time to take your shoes off at center mat and kiss the mat goodbye. We try to win a national title every year.

The U23 world championships will be the first opportunity to see how this experiment works. The early returns look promising. Cassioppi took second at the Senior national championships in May, then beat two age-level world medalists, Lehighs Jordan Wood and Northwesterns Lucas Davison, to make the U23 world team later that month.

The competition doesnt slow down once he returns, either. Iowa will compete at the Collegiate Wrestling Duals on Dec. 20-21, and a bunch of top-tier heavyweights are expected to attend. Then comes the Big Ten slate, which features nine of the top-25 heavyweight wrestlers in the country according to InterMats preseason rankings.

So Cassioppi will be tested plenty between this week and March. Iowa also hosts No. 10 Minnesota on Jan. 7, so hell get his shot at Steveson after the New Year. He may not see Parris until the Big Ten Championships in March, but his progression toward closing the gap on those two will be a storyline worth monitoring in the months ahead.

Because this season may feature a new Tony Cassioppi, but his goals remain the same. Hes ready to stop talking about his lean and mean physique, and let his wrestling speak for him.

I feel really good. Best Ive ever been. Stronger, faster, better than ever, he said. But Im not the defending national champ, and my goal is the same as its always been to be the national champ.

Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.

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Iowa wrestler Tony Cassioppi is a leaner and meaner heavyweight this season. Heres why. - Hawk Central

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Rep. Brady backs electric vehicle supplier incentives but little else in the fall session – WGLT11.02.21

Illinois Democrats used their majorities during the fall session to draw new congressional maps, give the governor more legal protections to enact COVID protocols, and remove hurdles for pregnant minors to get an abortion.

Republican State Rep. Dan Brady of Bloomington voted against each of those measures. Brady said the mapmaking process was flawed because Democrats took little public input and the maps force Republican incumbents into primaries. U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger announced plans to retire from Congress, avoiding a primary fight against fellow Republican Darin LaHood in the new 16th Congressional District.

Primaries are very difficult and its a cleansing of the party, Brady said. It pits individuals against each other that would normally be on the same page for most things.

Brady added hes not sure how the maps could impact the race of Illinois governor in 2022.

Kinzinger has said he plans to stay involved in politics, and U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis has said he will wait until after the maps are signed into law before announcing his political future.

Brady said he wants primary voters to consider electability when they make their selections next year.

Illinois lawmakers pushed through a series of tax credits and other incentives last week to help companies in the electric vehicle industry.

Brady said electric automaker Rivian won't benefit financially from the bill, but it will help suppliers who have been in negotiations to locate here.

That was the urgency of this package to get something on the books through the legislature the governor is going to sign to show those companies were serious about wanting you here in Illinois, Brady said.

Samsung is one of the companies that's been in talks to build a battery manufacturing plant in Normal, but the electronics company is considering locations in other states too.

Brady said the incentives aren't as great as some states are offering, but he says they at least make Illinois competitive.

Brady said a bill that Illinois legislators approved that gives employers greater authority to enforce COVID-19 vaccine requirements should have included a COVID testing option.

Brady said he voted against changes to the Health Care Right of Conscience Act because it strips people's rights.

You basically ignored over 48,000 people that sent in their opinions against the legislation and I think the legislation was something that was way too broad in that amendment and was something that should not have been pushed through or shoved downs throats in a veto session, Brady said.

Democratic lawmakers passed the bill to hold off a potential wave of COVID lawsuits over vaccine mandates.

Brady said critics of the changes are suspicious that will lead to forced vaccinations on a broad scale.

That is something that causes concern and rightfully so. They are suspicious of that. They are very concerned about their rights and something thats been good enough to have on the books since 1995 now has got to be changed, Brady said, referring to the Right of Conscience Act that lawmakers approved 26 years ago.

Illinois already requires health care workers, educators and other frontline workers to get the COVID vaccine or submit to weekly testing.

Illinois lawmakers repealed the Parental Notice of Abortion Act. Supporters of repealing the notice requirement say it discourages many pregnant minors from seeking an abortion and could put them in danger if the parent who would be notified is their abuser.

Brady considers removing the parental notice requirement a double standard.

You need a parents consent if you are under 18 to have a tattoo, to go on a field trip, see an R-rated movie, participate in school sports or take Tylenol for gosh sakes at school, but yet youve stripped parental notification for a serious medical procedure, he said, adding that Illinois lawmakers seem intent to shore up abortion rights in the wake of Texas passing a law that essentially puts enforcement powers in the hands of private citizens. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review that law.

Brady said he plans to announce by Thanksgiving whether he plans to run for Illinois Secretary of State next year. Brady, who has been in Illinois legislature since 2001, said he has been exploring the potential for a statewide campaign for several months.

Brady said he has been talking with GOP leaders and potential donors about a possible candidacy.

Discussions have been good. Of course, everybody is for you before you announce and what you have to do is make those decisions based on (that) and couple it with personal and the business side of things, Brady said.

Democrat Jesse White is not seeking re-election after six terms. A crowded field of Democrats haver emerged in the race, including former Chicago alderman Pat Dowell and David Moore, former U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias and Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia.


Rep. Brady backs electric vehicle supplier incentives but little else in the fall session - WGLT

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90-Year-Old Will Walk 3,600 Miles for Children With Cancer, KISS and Cinderella Keyboardist Dies From Cancer and More – Curetoday.com07.25.21

Mark Hoppus shared that he has the same cancer type his mother survived.

Mark Hoppus, singer and bassist of Blink-182, recently announced his cancer diagnosis on social media. He shared that he had been undergoing chemotherapy for the past three months, but did not disclose the cancer type.

Recently, in a livestream question and answer session with fans, Hoppus explained that he was diagnosed with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma stage 4a.

Oddly enough, I have the exact same form of cancer that she had, and she beat it so Ive been able to talk with her and bond with her quite a bit," he said, according to iHeart Radio.

He explained that he was scheduled to undergo a CT scan that week to determine the effectiveness of his treatments. If the chemotherapy is not yielding results, he may look into receiving a bone marrow transplant. If the current treatment is working, he said, he must go through at least three more rounds of it.

Were beating the cancer, its only a matter of time," said Hoppus, who also shared that he plans to get a tattoo to celebrate being cancer-free when the day comes.

Dean Troutman, 90, has been traveling on foot to raise money for St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital, through a fundraiser called Troutman Trek.

Ive gone only a little over 100 miles. Im just getting started, he told WGN9.

In 2014, Troutman walked more than 700 miles around Illinois to raise money in memory of his late wife, Dorothy (Peggy) Troutman. He was able to fundraise $70,000, which was used to build a playground and complete other projects in his local area. The following year, he walked again, raising over $10,000 for children and families of St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital.

This year, his goal is to walk for a full year, completing 3,600 miles across the central and southern parts of the U.S.

My goal now is to get out of Illinois, he said. And once I get into Indiana, my goal is to hit Ohio then Kentucky and West Virginia, then Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina and I hope to be out in Florida by Christmas.

So far, he has raised more than $9,600 during this trek.

I like to walk, and Ive got to have a reason to do it, Troutman said. And St. Jude is a charity I think deserves it as much or more than anyone I can think of.

Gary Corbett, a keyboardist who toured with the bands KISS and Cinderella, died from lung cancer last week.

The news was confirmed by his sister in a Facebook post.

Those who knew Gary know that we and the world of music have all lost a very talented, funny, kind and gentle soul. The pain cuts so deeply that our hearts are bleeding, she wrote.

Former bandmembers of Cinderella also released a joint statement about Corbetts death, writing, Gary was a talented musician and good-hearted friend. He toured with Cinderella on and off for many years. Our deepest condolences go out to Garys wife Lenore and his family and loved ones. RIP Gary.

KISS released an official statement on Corbetts death as well, sharing that they were shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of Gary Corbett to cancer.

Miranda McKeon, a 19-year-old actress known for her role in Anne with an E, was diagnosed with breast cancer after she found an odd lump on her breast during a weekend at the beach with friends.

After going down a little Google rabbit hole, my mind was at ease because I didnt think anything could be wrong because of my age, McKeon told Entertainment Weekly.

Unfortunately for McKeon, a biopsy revealed that she had stage 3 breast cancer. The cancer had also spread to her lymph nodes. Her doctors told her that she was one in a million due to the rarity of receiving a breast cancer diagnosis as a teenager.

"My doctor was like, 'Your stage doesn't define you. And your cancer is your cancer.' she said. Which I appreciate because when you hear someone's stage, your mind goes straight to one place or another and I don't think that's necessarily representative of what I'm going through.

McKeon started treatment right away, which will be four months of chemotherapy with infusions every other week, followed by radiation and a potential surgery.

For more news on cancer updates, research and education, dont forget tosubscribe to CUREs newsletters here.

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FBI: Devontay Anderson, Wanted Fugitive Accused Of Killing 7-Year-Old In Chicago, May Be In Minnesota Or Wisconsin – CBS Minnesota06.29.21

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) A fugitive who is wanted in a 7-year-old girls violent shooting death in Chicago, Illinois may now be in Minnesota or Wisconsin, FBI Minneapolis officials announced Friday. A reward of up to $25,000 is being offered in hopes of locating him.

The FBI says 22-year-old Devontay Davoucci Anderson of Illinois is charged with first-degree murder in connection to the April 18 shooting death of the girl, who was fatally shot while in a vehicle in a fast food drive-thru in Chicago. She had just gotten out of school.

Anderson and an associate allegedly opened fire on the vehicle. The girl was struck multiple times. Her father was also shot once. The girl died from her injuries while her father survived.

Anderson was subsequently charged with first-degree murder. A federal arrest warrant was issued for him in late April after he was charged with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

Anderson is described as a Black man, around 5-foot-5 inches tall, 150 to 160 pounds, with brown eyes. He also has a small tattoo of capital letters written in script over his right eyebrow.

According to the FBI, Anderson is also known to go by Vontay or Moneybag and has connections to Illinois, Indiana and Florida.

Devontay Anderson (credit: FBI Minneapolis)

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $25,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Anderson.


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BUSINESS BUZZ: No Regerts removes more than tattoos – The Pioneer06.29.21

This article is part of Business Buzz, a series designed to feature small businesses that make a big impact on the community. Participants featured will include the locally-owned businesses that make up the fabric of Big Rapids and the surrounding area.

BIG RAPIDS Regretting a tattoo is a regular occurrence and getting them removed used to be impossible, but advancements in laser technology have allowed doctors to get rid of them with relatively ease.

No Regerts Tattoo Removal in Big Rapids is one business that helps individuals with this issue on a daily basis and utilize a high tech laser to fade tattoos in sessions, as well as using the technology to address other skin conditions.

A physician-operated specialty clinic, No Regerts was founded in 2020 by podiatrist Dr. Jeff Mossel, who serves as the business medical director and oversees all treatments.

All of the laser technicians at No Regerts received the designations of Certified Laser Specialist and Laser Safety Officer from the worlds leading laser tattoo removal training college, New Look Laser College.

Mossel grew up in Byron Center and achieved his Bachelor of Science at Central Michigan University and his doctorate at School College of Podiatric Medicine in Chicago, Illinois.

Mossel completed his residency at Cook County Hospital in Chicago and the VA and University of Arizona in Tucson.

Before No Regerts, Mossel founded Big Rapids Foot & Ankle, a podiatry practice that focuses on foot care and health. No Regerts is operated inside of Big Rapids Foot & Ankle.

I had an open room in my office, and was looking at new opportunities to bring business in, Mossel said. I did some research and saw that there was a laser that took care of nail fungus, and noticed that it also worked with tattoo removal, and when I saw that I figured Id check it out."

"There arent many tattoo removal places in the area, and the ones that are around are expensive, so I thought it would be a good idea to implement in my practice," he added.

No Regerts provides services for completely removing unwanted tattoo ink, fading for cover up tattoos, vascular lesion removal no-obligation, as well as complimentary consultations for all patients.

The consultations are designed to educate a patient about the laser tattoo removal process and provide an in-depth tattoo assessment to determine the number of treatments a given tattoo will need.


Laser tattoo removal works when the ink particles in the skin absorb the light energy from a state-of-the-art laser. The absorption is what causes an ink particle to shatter into tiny fragments that are small enough for the immune system to naturally remove.

If an ink particle reflects light energy, then it remains intact and permanently trapped in the skin. Successful laser tattoo removal relies heavily on the technology and wavelengths a laser produces.

Mossel said the lengthy process depends largely on the size and colors that are in a certain tattoo, and that some tattoos can be as fast as 20 seconds, while others take several treatments.

The process can be a bit slow, because were working in sessions to break down the pigment which can take time, Mossel said. The process isnt burning the tattoo off of your skin, but breaking up those ink particles to help your body take care of it naturally, so we dont usually see any scarring or blisters after its done, and out lasers can remove almost all color except for a few white pigments.

An average patient would usually take three to 10 visits for a full removal depending on their tattoo and preferences. No Regerts can do full removals, lightening tattoos in preparation for a cover up, and can remove or lighten certain areas of a given tattoo.

The business will remove hate- or gang-related tattoos for no charge.

As for the pain levels, the process of getting a tattoo removed is reportedly less painful than getting the tattoo itself.

Many of my patients describe it as feeling a burning sensation, Mossel said. Luckily the process can go much faster for removal than for tattooing and we are able to have less pain and remove the tattoo faster for the patient. We ice the area if needed and also have a numbing agent that we can use for patient who need it, but everyone has different pain tolerances, so we treat each patient and tattoo differently."

"The process isnt particularly pleasant, but it goes quickly, at least," he added.

Mossel said that since opening, the business has gotten positive reviews from patients. Winter is usually a busier time for tattoo removal, as the process requires that patients avoid high sunlight and wear sunscreen during and after the process to protect the skin from sun damage.


No Regerts also utilizes their laser technology to treat patients with vascular veins, or spider veins, such as telangiectasia on the face and legs. Vascular lesions are extremely common and appear on all parts of the body in various shapes and sizes. These unwanted blemishes usually develop with age and are also caused by activity level, hormones, and genetics.

During treatment, the laser emits light energy into the skin and onto the unwanted vascular lesion. The hemoglobin of the blood absorbs the light energy and causes the blood to be warmed significantly, leading to inflammation of the vessel. The inflammation causes the vessel to collapse and successfully cut off blood flow.

Most patients will see significant results after a single treatment while larger vascular lesions may require more. In the case that multiple treatments are necessary, treatments are spaced at least four to six weeks apart.

Side effects of laser vascular lesion removal are few. Patients may experience some slight bruising and redness following treatment. Over the weeks following treatment, the skin should heal and eventually reveal unblemished skin.

Mossel said the treatment has been positive for many patients who struggled with the appearance of the common skin blemish.

Weve had great reviews on our vascular removals, and are happy that we can provide two services in one with our lasers, Mossel said. The removal process is simple and fast, and at No Regerts, both tattoo removal and vascular lesion removal are much lower cost than other places.

Weve had some great success stories with our tattoo removals, one patient we treated had a teardrop tattoo that was preventing him from getting a job and we were able to remove that, and as soon as we did he was able to get a job which was great to see. For many of our patients, removal of tattoos can help them with improving their lives.

Recently in a new location at 103 S. State St. in Big Rapids, No Regerts has been seeing an increase patient. Mossel said he has no plans to make major changes or additions to the services, but looks forward to removing more tattoos and helping individuals with their skin concerns.

To learn more about No Regerts, how to book an appointment, and more on their laser technology, visit their website at


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Body found in submerged car is identified | News | – Sentinel-Tribune05.19.21

PERRYSBURG A body found in a submerged car, confirmed as being owned by a missing person, was removed from the pond near the Owens-Illinois headquarters on Friday.

Perrysburg Police Chief Patrick Jones said the the case is being investigated.

Lucas County Coroners office is working. Law enforcement from Georgia is sending dental records up, so were just waiting on confirmation. The car was registered to her. There is a tattoo that appears identical, but obvious we cant say 100% until we get the coroners office to confirm that for us, he said. Right now we have one of our detectives working with law enforcement in Georgia trying to just figure out what the path was to get from Georgia to here and how they ended up in Perrysburg.

The vehicle owner is listed as Hailey Elayne Worthy. She went missing from Georgia to Michigan trip that started Dec. 13, according to missing persons website report.

The last message from her, on Dec. 15, at 3 a.m. to friends states, I love you all and see you soon.

A missing person report was later filed with the Rockdale County Sheriffs Department in Georgia, Case #20182984. It was reported as a missing persons case Dec. 30.

The report states that she was driving a silver Nissan Sentra bearing Georgia license plate.

Police are researching phone records and other evidence.

Perrysburg police and fire departments were dispatched to the scene at 6:53 a.m. on Friday to remove a silver four-door sedan with Georgia license plates on the south side of the pond. The Toledo dive team arrived on scene at 7:52 a.m.

We had to wait until morning to have the Toledo dive team assist us. Once we were able to get a diver in there, we were able to confirm that there was a body, Perrysburg Fire Chief Rudy Ruiz said.

Perrysburg police are working with Georgia law enforcement authorities to identify the body and notify the family.

The car was completely submerged in the pond, which has an approximate 10-foot depth. The body appeared to be in the drivers seat, according to Ruiz, but the victim wasnt seat-belted.

Ruiz said there was no obvious indication that there was a vehicle in the pond, except as could be seen from the air.

The vehicle had been spotted Thursday by a ProMedica pilot who had flown over the pond near the OI Headquarters at 1 Michael Owens Way at approximately 6 p.m. At 9:35 p.m. a call was placed by the pilot who had reported a vehicle partially in the water.

The water is clear, but being down so deep, and there were no tire tracks, or marks, or anything like that anywhere around the perimeter. We confirmed that right away, Ruiz said. But when the helicopter was doing maneuvers they happened to notice there was a vehicle in the water.

Perrysburg fire was dispatched to the scene at 9:37 p.m. It was determined that the efforts would be recovery and not rescue. The dive team was also called in, but due to safety concerns it was determined that they would come back in the morning.

One body was found in the car by Toledo divers.

According to an Associated Press story, the body may have been in the vehicle and pond since December.

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Events to return to Rosemont’s Stephens Convention Center starting in July – Daily Herald05.06.21

After a long, pandemic-triggered absence, trade shows and public events will return this summer to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, the facility announced Tuesday.

Events will be held at the multi-hall, 840,000-square foot center on River Road starting in July. It's been dormant since March 2020, when the COVID-19 crisis resulted in restrictions on gatherings across the state, nation and world.

"We're excited to take another step toward normal," Mayor Brad Stephens said in the announcement. "It's good for Rosemont and it's good for Illinois."

A specific reopening date wasn't mentioned in the center's announcement.

An Asian-themed animation festival called Anime Midwest is scheduled to run July 2-4. Other events scheduled for July include the Exxxotica adult entertainment expo and the Chicago Tattoo Arts convention, both set to run July 16-18.

But final dates for events are being determined, a center spokesman said.

In all, about 30 events are tentatively scheduled for the center between July and Dec. 31.

Cleaning and disinfecting protocols will be enacted to prevent spread of COVID-19 and other viruses at the venue.

"The health and safety of our attendees is our highest priority," convention center Executive Director Chris Stephens said in the release. "We closely track and follow all best practices and guidance from the CDC and the Illinois Department of Public Health."

Before the pandemic, the Donald E. Stephens Convention and Conference Center hosted about 70 trade shows and 250 meetings and social events annually, according to the facility. The events bring about 1.5 million visitors and an $800 million economic impact to the region, village officials said.

Some draw tens of thousands of people to the venue and nearby hotels, restaurants and other businesses.

The center reopening will boost traffic "dramatically" at the Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse across the street, said Patrick Houlihan, managing partner for the Gibsons Restaurant Group.

"It has a really big trickle-down effect for everybody," Houlihan said.

The last event held at the convention center was the World of Wheels car show in early March 2020.

Other suburban hotels and convention centers are planning to host events starting this summer, too. For example, the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo is set for June 3-5 at the Schaumburg Convention Center.

"We are going to have a complete show with wonderful vendors, fabulous classrooms and teachers, and some really great quilt displays," said Liz Fredrick, sales manager for the event.

And the Chicago Auto Show, the Black Women's Expo and other events are planned for Chicago's McCormick Place.

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New Steelers center Kendrick Green ‘nasty’ on the surface, but there’s much more to him – Galesburg Register-Mail05.06.21

By Brian Batko| Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (TNS)

PITTSBURGH When Zack Belk was being recruited to play college football 12 years ago, his younger brother wanted to come along on the visits. It was on a trip to Knox College, a Division III school in Galesburg, Illinois,that the head coach couldn't believe the size of 10-year-old Kendrick Green, and told him right then and there they'd love to have him on the team someday.

He was only half-joking.

"I always tell people that was his first offer," Belk said with a laugh Saturday afternoon. "They were recruiting me, but then they really wanted Kendrick."

Somewhere, that coach was probably patting himself on the back Friday night when the Steelers chose Green out of Illinois not Knox to be their third-round draft pick. And maybe their next great center?

The 6-foot-2, 305-pound Green got the call from Mike Tomlin at Belk's house, in their hometown of Peoria, Illinois.Belk, 30, is eight years older than Green, so he's had a front-row seat to watch his brother go from Major League Baseball hopeful to dominant lineman and now to much-needed help for a beleaguered Steelers offense.

"Sometimes you see guys and it's like they were just big and stumbled onto football, and they're really good," Belk said. "Kendrick's story and him being drafted is a culmination of all his efforts since he's been 5 years old."

Green's older brother called him "real nasty," which is key for new Steelers offensive line coach Adrian Klemm, who takes over the No. 1 job presiding over that unit after Shaun Sarrett was not retained this offseason. Klemm had been the Steelers' assistant offensive line coach, but now he can have even more of a hand in shaping that group, and the first rookie added to it was Green.

There are questions, no doubt, about the team's newest lineman. He was listed at 6-4 on the Illinois roster but measured in a shade under 6-2 at his pro day. In college, 29 of his 33 starts came at guard, and only four at center, where the Steelers must replace All-Pro stalwart Maurkice Pouncey. But he already checks what might be the biggest box for the Steelers, and that's a mentality and a physicality Klemm won't have to teach.

"He just finishes plays with a nasty demeanor and imposes his will every play," Klemm said Friday night.

For Green, his disposition isn't without talent to back it up. Yes, he's on the smaller side for an offensive lineman, but he showed his athleticism with a 4.88 40-yard dash faster than any other interior lineman who ran at his pro day this year and 9-foot-11-inch broad jump, by far the best of any 2021 center. Not that he'll be running 40 yards downfield very often, but his 10-yard split time of 1.69 seconds an indicator of initial burst also was tops in the class.

It should be no surprise, then, that Green didn't just pick up football because he was a burly kid. He just happened to excel at that sport the most, given his powerful frame. Growing up, he went to the local basketball camp sponsored by Peoria legend Shaun Livingston, the fourth overall NBA draft pick in 2004 who won three titles with the Golden State Warriors. Green really enjoyed baseball as a first baseman and power-hitter who was "so strong that if he just touched the ball, it was gone," his brother remembered.

"He was really good. He'll get mad I'm sharing this, but at one point when he was a little kid, he wanted to quit football and just focus on baseball," Belk said. "Kendrick's a workhorse, but when he was a kid, he hated to go to football practice. He was like, 'Man, baseball's so much easier,' when he was 9 or 10. I said, 'You're just being lazy.' I told him you're much better at football than baseball. He said, 'I'm going to MLB!'"

Instead, Green racked up most of his accolades on the field and the mat. He finished third in the state in wrestling as a senior heavyweight and played both ways to help Peoria High School win its first football state championship that same year. Green racked up 12 varsity letters in all and even earned a spot on the U.S. under-19 football team that played in the world championships in China.

He elected to head to Champaign and play for the hometown Fighting Illini but had a bit of a rude awakening. Not only did he redshirt his first year, but the coaching staff had seen enough of him at the position he was recruited for, moving him from defensive tackle to the offensive line.

"I was awful at defense," the gregarious Green admitted Friday night shortly after being drafted.

Of course, the switch worked out well for his football future. But as he's evolved, Green has come to care about more than just what happens between the lines. Last summer, he spent most of three days working the phones to organize a rally for racial equality on the Illinois campus.

Green led a march that ended at the Champaign Police Department, and eventually he spoke to the crowd assembled around him. He told them public speaking isn't his strong suit, but that the goal of the event was to unify the community and raise awareness of police brutality, while acknowledging that "Rome wasn't built in a day."

"Peoria is definitely a very racially divided city, when you talk about inequality. And when you're Black and you grow up in a bad part of town that is suffering heavily from poverty, you grow up seeing those things," Belk said of his brother, a sociology major. "His teammate now, [Najee Harris], who was homeless for a time that's not Kendrick's story. He had a decent childhood. But being around it and being so close to it your entire life, you just have a soft spot in your heart to that type of stuff. He's older now. He's not an idiot. He's a pretty smart guy. He sees a lot of what's happening in his own city and the world, and he's passionate about it."

On that day in late August, people were literally following Green, including Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman, then-football coach Lovie Smith, basketball coaches Brad Underwood and Orlando Antigua, plus plenty of student-athletes. But at his pro day in March, Klemm watched how teammates gravitated to his leadership and "commanding presence" from a football perspective.

That's always a good quality to have in a center, one Pouncey was revered for in Pittsburgh and in college. Klemm was careful not to compare Green to Pouncey or Dermontti Dawson and Mike Webster, a couple other college guards who moved to the middle and turned into Hall of Famers but when you're a center for the Steelers, the bar is set sky-high. It just so happens Green also idolized the Pouncey twins' playing style, and he even wore No. 53 like Maurkice and brother Mike.

"I play with a mean streak," said Green, who squatted 700 pounds last spring and has a tattoo of Ares, the Greek god of war, on his left forearm. "I'm looking to play physical and finish guys."

Klemm always wants his center to set the tone for the rest of the line, but first, Green will have to beat out veteran B.J. Finney and former undrafted free agent J.C. Hassenauer. His inner circle believes he's up for the challenge, and the journey began Friday night with his siblings, friends, fraternity brothers and proud father, LaMont Carroll, by his side.

But most important was his 5-month-old daughter in his lap.

"He loves her to death, and she's honestly the driving force of what's going to hopefully keep him grounded and make sure he's smart with his finances," Belk said. "He's not going to be that guy you read stories about being a rookie, going out, doing dumb stuff, messing up his shot on the field. He's there to work. He wants to start, he wants to win and he wants a Super Bowl."

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