By Melanie Eversley
NABJ Black News & Views
Houston Baptist University basketball star Darius Lee, who was due to graduate in December, was killed in a weekend mass shooting in Harlem, his home town, the school announced Monday.
Lee, 21, was recently named HBU Robbie Robertson Male Student-Athlete of the Year and was sixth in the nation in steals per game, the school said in a statement. He also led his team, the Huskies, in scoring and rebounding.
Lee was one of nine people shot early Monday morning in Harlem, New York. The bodies of Lee and four others were found along the FDR Drive, which separates Manhattan’s East Side from the East River.
All of those shot were at some sort of gathering, New York City police said.
“It’s beyond senseless,” Lee’s high school basketball coach, Chris Williams, told WNBC. “”For a kid to be home from college, wake up, workout, spend time with family and friends and have this happen to him, it’s beyond a tragedy.”
Those who knew Lee at HBU were deeply in mourning.
“Darius was a remarkable young man who loved the Lord, his mom, his family, his teammates, his friends and his entire HBU family,” Ron Cottrell, HBU head men’s basketball coach, said in a statement.
“We are in shock and cannot wrap our heads around this news,” Cottrell added. “My heart breaks for his mom, his sister and his entire family, and for our basketball team. The only thing we find comfort in right now is knowing where Darius is. He is in the arms of Jesus… we know that as fact. And we will see him again some day.”
Said Cottrell, “As great of a basketball player as he was, he was an even better person. I can’t even think of basketball right now. I can only think of what a light Darius was during his short time on earth. He was a joy to coach and we loved him so much.”
Lee was pronounced dead at a hospital in the Bronx.
The NYPD said it was exploring whether the people shot were at some sort of gathering. The agency released the photo of a gun believed to have been used in the incident.
“The emboldened individuals responsible for this are exactly who our officers are battling every day to make our city safe,” Keechant Sewell, the country’s first Black woman police chief and NYPD police commissioner, told reporters.