Tayshana Murphy: A Community Remembers the Athlete, the Friend, the Charmer
As tears and tributes for the fallen in the 9/11 bombing attacks echoed throughout the city, one life was being remembered uptown, one that had nothing to do with the terror attacks. It was the life of an 18-year-old rising basketball star who was gunned down in a Harlem project one year ago.
Balloons, cards, and red and white candles illuminate the memory of the fallen athlete outside the building where she was killed. It was just one year ago, in the wee hours the morning, that Tayshana was dancing with her friends in the courtyard of the Grant House Projects. What seemed to be a “fun” night quickly turned tragic when two young men approached the teen with a gun, eventually chasing her up four flights of stairs and shooting her to death.
Her friends and family still wear T-shirts and pictures around their necks with the words “RIP Chicken,” Tayshana’s official nickname from birth, because her parents thought she looked like a wet duck when she was born but decided the name “Chicken” was better.
A year later the mood at the Grant House Projects is less somber than it was last year. People come and go, adding their own candles and taking pictures with their smartphones.
A stone’s throw away at Columbia University, the fall semester had barely begun when news of the high-school basketball phenom’s death dominated the headlines. After hearing the news, I knew I had a story and I was eager to piece together the last 24 hours of this young teen’s life.
Tayshana Murphy was an 18-year-old with a bright future and a big heart. She had dreams of going to college and playing in the WNBA. Colleges were already beginning to take notice, including Virginia Commonwealth University, which continued to monitor her progress even after she tore her ACL and had to sit out the season.
By her senior year, ESPN’s HoopGurlz ranked her 16th in the nation among high-school point guards. She had skills that could intimidate most athletes, according to Ed Grezinsky, the head coach at Murry Bergtraum High School, the school Tayshana had just transferred to, and where she thought she’d get her big break playing for their all-star basketball team.
Off the court, Tayshana was an average student, as described by several of her classmates. Her main focus was basketball and not academics; her older cousin Alysha Green even remembers her saying that she wanted to play with men. “She thought she was too good for the women’s league,” Alysha said.
Continue reading at Huffington Post.