McClinton, Gauthier, city leaders honor fallen hero, cheer new basketball court

PHILADELPHIA, July 15 – State and city officials gathered in the Cobbs Creek neighborhood today to unveil a newly renovated basketball court in the renamed Sgt. Robert Wilson III Park. The park bears the name of fallen Philadelphia Police Officer Robert Wilson III of the city’s 22nd Precinct who was murdered while protecting civilians during the course of an armed robbery in 2015. Wilson grew up in the neighborhood and played basketball at the park. 

The basketball court was refurbished using a combination of state and city funds and will provide local youth a place to play, exercise and socialize.

“When we invest in recreational spaces for our youth and families, we are investing in the health, wellbeing and future of our communities,” said Speaker of the House Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, “Today’s event not only commemorates the lives of several community heroes, including Sergeant Wilson, but also demonstrates how people from across the community can work together to improve the lives of all our neighbors.”

“I am proud to invest in this new and improved basketball court, the latest in a string of new world-class public resources we’re delivering to Cobbs Creek! Not only will this facility empower Cobbs Creek to gather, play and build community, it will serve as a monument to the legacy and ultimate sacrifice of Sergeant Robert Wilson,” Councilmember Jamie Gauthier said. “Thank you to the Concerned Men of Cobbs Creek and Speaker McClinton for securing the state grant that made this new basketball court possible. And thank you to Senator Williams, the Kenney Administration and our Cobbs Creek neighbors for their partnership!”

“Sergeant Wilson is forever a hero. Our community will never forget the ultimate sacrifice he made eight years ago during that store robbery. It is an honor to rename this Cobbs Creek Park after him and to gather this weekend to celebrate the new basketball courts: it is one small way we can make sure his memory lives on for generations to come,” State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, D-Phila./Delaware, said.

"Residents and communities thrive when they have high-quality parks, playgrounds, courts and fields," said Vanessa Garrett-Harley, deputy mayor of the City of Philadelphia Office of Children and Families. "This beautiful new basketball court at Sgt. Robert Wilson III Park will be well-used and well-loved by the Cobbs Creek neighborhood. I am so grateful to Speaker McClinton and Councilmember Gauthier for their continued investment in this beloved community park."

The local organization, Concerned Men of Cobbs Creek, was instrumental in advocating for the funds to renovate the recreation space and will conduct programs for youth using the new space.

The park’s namesake, Sgt. Robert Wilson’s family was at the event and received a citation from Gov. Josh Shapiro’s administration. The families of other community heroes who have passed on were also present, including the family of Sgt. Marvin Ruley, a retired police officer and staff member in McClinton’s office, Eugene Lett, the dedicated community organizer and beloved basketball coach and mentor to many, and the family of Tyhir Barnes, whose life was tragically cut short in 2016 due to gun violence but who’s spirit and legacy live on in the community.