CHICAGO (WCIA) — Tracy Abrams spent two years playing pro basketball overseas, but now his passion is taking him back to his roots.

“I live in Chicago. I grew up on the south side, I think everybody was pretty much aware of what’s going on in Chicago with violence,” says Abrams. “I think there’s a lack of role models and programs that’s just trying to help and cater to the kids that makes them turn away from the negative stuff, so that’s one of the main focuses of why I wanted to start my program.”

The former Illini stepped away from his basketball career, to start a mentorship program for elementary school students. He’s now is going on his second year as the President of Chicago Positive Impact.

“It’s dedicated to teaching leadership training and life-skills, so I have an itinerary that’s just really strict about teaching kids about leadership,” says Abrams. “to hear the progression, and to see the feedback I get from kids calling, like ‘what are we doing next? what you got next for us?’ It’s really good in terms of the support system.”

Through field trips, community service activities, and basketball camps, Abrams is committed to making a difference in the lives of Chicago’s youth. His humble beginnings inspired him to start the program, as well as a mentor he had growing up.

“It definitely changed my life, just growing up on the south side of Chicago, it wasn’t that easy I would say,” says Abrams. “I’m not going to bash it or anything like that, but it’s not easy, so to have that person day to day and encouraging you to be better, I think is important. Not only was it important to me, but for our youth.”

Now Abrams is that role model for hundreds of students.Chicago Positive Impact is currently partnered with more than 10 schools, with the goal of expanding to several more.