‘Sports Illustrated’ Article on Fred Van Vleet Critical of Rockford

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An article in the magazine ‘Sports Illustrated’ on former Auburn High School and current Wichita State basketball star Fred Van Vleet contains highly critical comments about the city of Rockford, casting the Forest City as ‘one of the Rust Belt’s worst casualties’ with an ‘ugly educational legacy’ towards African-Americans.

The article by Luke Winn first published in the magazine on November 9th and then posted on si.com November 12th (you can read the article here) paints a narrative on issues that are not unfamiliar to Rockford residents … violent crime, past school segregation, unemployment and poverty … and its impact on minority residents. 

It goes into detail about the effect the shooting death of Van Vleet’s father had on him.  It also portrays Van Vleet as someone who needed to escape the area and its struggles to be successful.

Van Vleet himself is quoted as being critical of his hometown, which the article implies limited his options for college basketball scholarships because of Rockford’s reputation.

“There’s no opportunity in Rockford,” Van Vleet is quoted as saying, adding, “so if you stay there, you don’t see the world as very big.”  He then adds that “Everybody knows that Rockford is racist.” 

Van Vleet also shares his hope of making big money in the NBA and being able to use some of it to help schools of the west side.

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