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Brian Sleet Could Have Left Chicago For Big Bucks Or The ‘Burbs — But He’d Never Think Of It, Dad Says As Community Mourns

"He loved the challenge of helping people do the improbable or the impossible," Marion Sleet said of his son.

Brian Sleet.
Chicago Urban League
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CHICAGO — Political consultant Brian Sleet’s legacy will be one of helping Chicagoans — particularly those on the South Side — achieve their dreams, his father said.

Sleet, who was 41, died Wednesday. A Chatham native, he was known for mentoring black Chicagoans and helping with their campaigns. He helped get Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) and others elected.

And though Sleet was known for his work on those and other campaigns, he was also committed to improving the quality of life for people on the South Side, said his father, Marion Sleet.

“His legacy will be … how many people he helped to begin to achieve their dreams, and to actually really begin to think big beyond their horizons,” said Marion Sleet, of Chatham. “He loved the challenge of helping people do the improbable or the impossible.”

An Ivy League graduate from a family of other Ivy League graduates, many expected Sleet to leave Chicago for the suburbs and get a job in “corporate America,” Marion Sleet said.

But making money or living in the suburbs was “never Brian’s priority,” Marion Sleet said.

“He chose to come back to his community and actually work toward improving the quality of life for the people,” Marion Sleet said.

Brian Sleet encouraged kids to go to college, his dad said, and he helped those with political ambitions get elected — so they could give back to their communities.

Sleet helped manage and strategize for Foxx’s, Sawyer’s and Ald. Sophia King (4th)’s elections. He also served as a chief of staff to Sawyer and worked at the public affairs firm Kivvit, where he was a “point person for community engagement” with the Obama Presidential Library, Sawyer wrote in a statement.

“Brian was especially committed to training and mentoring young black organizers and political operatives,” Sawyer wrote. “The news of Brian’s passing is fresh and a shock to all who knew and admired him. It is difficult at this time to imagine another person who possessed his talents and abilities, and his warm personality.”

Sleet’s death touched so many people, that within hours of his death “Sleet Is Chicago” was trending on Twitter as folks told stories of his kindness, his encouragement and his unwavering belief in the future of the city. 

Sleet died from a brain hemorrhage and heart disease, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Sleet’s wake is 3-7:30 p.m. Thursday at A. A. Rayner and Sons Funeral Home, 318 E. 71st St. His funeral service begins 11 a.m. Friday at St. John’s Church, 4821 S. Michigan Ave. He will be interred at Oakwood Cemetery.

People have shared stories about Sleet on Twitter: