Lacy Banks, first black reporter at The Star, dies of heart failure

Lacy Banks, a longtime sportswriter for the Chicago Sun-Times who grew up in Kansas City, Kan., died March 21 of congestive heart failure. He was 68.

Banks was the first black reporter for The Star, and the first black sportswriter for the Sun-Times. In 2008, he began writing about his battles with prostate cancer, a brain tumor and heart disease. He joined the Sun-Times in 1972, and covered the NBA from the mid-1980s to last season.

‘‘He was more than a reporter on the sidelines,’’ Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said. ‘‘He cared deeply about the teams he covered and the profession that he represented. While we didn’t always agree with his position — as is natural — we never questioned his enthusiasm for the Bulls or the city of Chicago.’’

My former colleague at the Chicago Reader, Michael Miner, writes that Banks died surrounded by family, listening to the Bulls.

Banks, who grew up in Kansas City, Kan, and was a Baptist preacher like his father, joined The Star in 1965.

“It was elating for those of us in the newsroom who were embarrassed by The Star’s lateness in coming to the issue,” said Charles Gusewelle, now a columnist, who joined The Star in 1955. …

“Banks was a young man with a dynamic future,” Gusewelle said. “My greatest regret was seeing him leave. But he was unquestionably capable and, though inexperienced when he came here out of college, he was a fast study.”

A KU grad, Banks was a general assignment reporter who also wrote book reviews, features and poems, and worked for The Star for a year. He served in Vietnam before joining the staff at Ebony magazine in Chicago.

In 2008, Banks was laid off by the Sun-Times, losing his health insurance.

On the morning of last January 11, Lacy Banks took a phone call that he believes nearly cost him his life.

It was from Sheri Stokes, a Chattanooga-based benefits specialist in the transplant department of Blue Cross Blue Shield. She told Banks, who was waiting for a new heart, that Blue Cross no longer insured him. That’s because as of December 31 he was no longer an employee of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Banks was bewildered—he’d begun six months of medical leave in October but he was still getting paychecks. And he was terrified.

In his last blog entry, in August, Banks wrote that he’d put his faith in God.

Nevertheless, my hope is in Jesus and in God’s grace and mercy. If there is to be any healing and any successful surgery and post-operative care, it will come from God through the instruments of doctors, nurses and medications. So it’s prayer time for me perhaps more than ever. Yes, it’s me, it’s me oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer. Won’t you please continue to pray for e and with me and I will do the same for you.


One comment

  1. Pingback: Helen Gray looks back at 48 years with The Star « MediaKC

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