Shawn Harrington grew up on the West Side of Chicago, where he still resides. In the early 1990s, he starred for legendary coach Luther Bedford at Chicago's Marshall High School, the same school featured in the documentary film "Hoop Dreams." He went on to be an all-conference player at Mineral Area Junior College. During the 1995-96 season, Shawn led New Mexico State in scoring, steals and assists, but a season-ending knee injury changed his plans. He graduated with a degree in Communications from Northwest Missouri State after earning All American honors there.
Shawn returned to Chicago when the first of his two daughters was born, and soon he signed on at Marshall as an assistant coach, winning a State Championship in 2008. Three years later, Shawn was assigned to work with Marshall's Special Education students, where he distinguished himself as a compassionate and talented mentor. In 2014, he was the target of a mistaken identity shooting on his morning commute. When the bullets started flying, Shawn, in a move of breathtaking courage, dove on top of his daughter and saved her life.
Former US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says, “Two decades after the film Hoop Dreams, the stories unfolding at Marshall High School are more important than ever before. Shawn Harrington is an American hero, and his story needs to be heard.”
Last year, Shawn was reassigned as a "Restorative Justice Counselor" at Marshall, working with the many kids whose lives have been affected by gun violence. He is the co-director of "Hoops for Peace--Chicago" each December, a 32-team tournament that includes voter registration, organ donor information, and a book for every player. Active on the high school speaking circuit, Shawn has met with teams, classes, and has been the keynote speaker at high school graduations. He also coaches a youth team each week on the heart of the West Side. Shawn Harrington's life story has been featured in the New York Times, HBO's "Real Sports," and is the subject of the new book "All the Dreams We've Dreamed."