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Ruvanna Campbell Signs Hoops Contract, Honors Tyshawn Lee, Amari Brown

By Justin Breen | August 25, 2016 7:25am
 Chicago native and former UIC star Ruvanna Campbell is heading to Israel to play professional basketball.
Chicago native and former UIC star Ruvanna Campbell is heading to Israel to play professional basketball.
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CHICAGO — Ruvanna Campbell always believed her destiny was to play basketball at the pro level.

That became a reality Wednesday when the Chicago native and the all-time leading rebounder in Horizon League history signed a one-year contract with Hapoel Petah Tikva of the Israel-DI league.

She leaves for Israel in October.

"I figured basketball would take me somewhere, just because I work hard," said Campbell, a former star at University of Illinois at Chicago. "After college, I knew it wasn't going to be it."

Campbell signed her contract Wednesday surrounded by kids and wearing a T-shirt honoring the late Tyshawn Lee and Amari Brown, both young victims of gun violence. Last season, Campbell organized a "Stop the Violence" game at UIC to honor Tyshawn and Amari. Tyshawn's mother, Karla, attended the game.

RELATED: 7-Year-Old's Killing Inspires Hoops Star To Create 'Stop the Violence' Game

Campbell at one point lived with her six siblings and 11 other people in a West Side housing project with her great-aunt and legal guardian. The Crane High School graduate and 6-foot-3 forward was dominant as a Flames senior, averaging a team-high 18.1 points and 13.5 rebounds per game. Campbell, who overcame a devastating knee injury in college, also had a Flames-best 42 blocked shots.

Campbell said she received several offers but felt the Israeli league provided the best opportunity for her to showcase her skills. She was hoping to have become the first UIC player in history to be drafted by a WNBA team, but Campbell has no doubts she'll one day be competing professionally in the U.S.

"I'm going to get that opportunity," she said. "For some reason, I always have to go through some sort of obstacles so I can appreciate things more. Coming from Chicago and the things I've already encountered, this is just who I am. I have to work harder than most people."

In Israel, Campbell said she'll be roommates with Karisma Chapman, a native of south suburban Calumet City, who's played overseas since 2014.

After her basketball career ends, Campbell, who graduated with a degree in criminal law and justice, wants to serve as a probation officer in Chicago.

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