Grandmother fights gun violence in Chicago, one checkmate at a time

CHICAGO -- One-hundred and eighty-seven people have been shot in Chicago so far this year. Now, a woman touched by gun violence is helping shield kids from danger, taking them from some of the toughest blocks to some of the friendliest squares.

Stephon Edwards, 11, has his opponent on the run, and that opponent is usually in the business of pursuing others. On Chicago's South Side, officers meet neighborhood kids on equal ground: the squares of a chess board.

They're brought together by Raydell Lacey, who started a program called "Not Before My Parents." We first met her two years ago, just days after her grandson E.J. was shot in the head at 19. He was one of 771 Chicagoans killed in 2016. Twenty-one years before that, her daughter was also murdered. In their memory, she pledged to us that she would be part of a solution.

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Raydell Lacey

CBS News

"No parent should have to bury their child. That's just don't go together. It's just not right," Lacey said.

Two years later, she has delivered on that promise.

"With chess, you think, you focus, you say, 'I want to beat him, and I don't have to beat him with these,'" Lacey said, making fists. "You can beat him with this right here," she adds, pointing to her head.

She even drives kids to weekly lessons and monthly matches with police officers that she hopes will build trust. That includes matches like the one we saw between Stephon Edwards and Officer Roderique McClain, who works in community policing in the Chicago Police Department's 7th District.

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A chess club in Chicago brings officers and kids together

CBS News

"I'm sure every time he sees me he's going to be, 'Oh hey, that's Officer McClain, I beat him in chess,'" joked McClain.

We asked Lacey if the chess matches represent E.J.'s legacy. "Yes it is," she replied. "I know he's looking proud."

Raydell Lacey lost her cherished grandson, but her family – and her impact -- continues to grow.