PARK MANOR – Chase Adams is the star of one of the most popular mixed basketball teams.
Adams was a pint-sized seventh grader at Ariel Community Academy in Kenwood when he demonstrated skills beyond his years in the 2013 “Ballislife” video, “4’11 Chase Adams has better handles than you!”
The video, which has garnered more than 16 million views, turned Adams into one of the most popular youth basketball players. but this The journey since his viral moment has not been easy.
Now 22 and 5’8″, he has endured personal tragedy and setbacks. He has struggled to find his fitness in collegiate basketball, spending the last year playing at junior college in Utah. Adams gets a second chance in the first division basketball next year When will he join the list at Jackson State University, a historically black university in Mississippi.
Adams said people still recognize him from the video and ask for photos and autographs after all of his games.
“I want to be more than just an internet sensation, because that term puts you in a box,” Adams said. “But I also know that when I play, someone is always watching. That wakes me up.”
Adams grew up in Park Manor and around the South Side. One of the highest ranked point guards in high school, Adams won the state championship at Orr Academy High School on the West Side in 2018.
Adams took an extra year of high school at Link Year Prep in Missouri in hopes of earning Division I performances. Adams said he ended up at the University of Portland, played well in his freshman year and proved he could “compete at a high level of my size”.
But Adams was out of his sophomore squad. His older brother and best friend, Drake Adams, had died of an epileptic fit years earlier. Still grieving over that loss and looking forward to changing schools, Adams said he was in a “mentally dark place.”
“I needed to find myself in that court again,” Adams said. “I had to play for free, like that kid in the video again.”
Other Chicago players outperformed Adams and went to the NBA.
“I could be the biggest hater in the world,” Adams said, “I’ve gone from the top of the world to watch my closest teammates go there instead.” “But I understand that my way is my way.”
The coach at Salt Lake Community College was the first to call him, promising a springboard and a chance to renew his career. Adams was hesitant at first, but he accepted the show and found himself “around all white people and a lot of mountains”, out of the noise and with plenty of time to get into the gym.
He led Salt Lake to a National Junior College Championship game last season.
“Going there was the best thing I could do,” Adams said. “I focused and worked. I discovered that my skin is tougher than I thought.”
He received several Division I offers and committed to Jackson State to play for rookie coach and NBA superstar Moe Williams. Adams said he is also looking forward to being at HBCU, where he hopes to “learn more about my culture.”
Adams said he wants to lead Jackson State to the NCAA Championship for the first time since 2007.
“I want to make sure when I’m done with the game, I’ll give back to the game all the talent I have,” Adams said. “Because talent is temporary. Noise is temporary.”
That hype from the mixed tape still finds it, though.
Adams said he doesn’t re-watch the viral video, but he often gets messages from young players from around the world who do and ask for advice: “I’m playing under six feet, what do I do?”
“I bonded because I was unlucky to pass an eye test to play the game,” Adams said. “Small and not tall, she uses talent not sport, speed not jumping. It is an achievable feeling for everyone who watches it.”
Slovenian brothers Tim and Nick Ferenc fled for three years to travel to the United States to see Adams’ play. Tim Ferenc said he and his brother run “The official Chase Adams fan page” on instagram.
“We play basketball too, and growing up we always watched the tape. Our motto is ‘Heart above height,'” Tim Ferenc said. ‘That’s what we all have in common.’
Adams said he is “humbled” any time someone brings up the video. He’s back in Chicago this summer to work on his game.
He said he hopes to continue inspiring players who might otherwise be overlooked. His late brother used to remind him, “This is bigger than you, and it’s bigger than just basketball,” Adams said.
“There has to be a purpose for me to own this platform,” Adams said. “I’m playing for everyone who’s still watching.”
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