Friends, family and coaches said that 17-year-old Jamiel Shaw was a good kid.
Shaw, a speedy running back for Los Angeles High School, was the Southern Leagues most valuable player last year.
His family said that Shaw was elated because Stanford and Rutgers Universities had phoned him about tentative recruitment offers.
But Shaw would never make it to the universitys football team.
At about 8:40 p.m. on Sunday night, Shaw was returning from a nearby mall and talking on his cellphone: first to his dad, Jamiel, Sr., who urged his son to hurry home. Then Jamiel called his girlfriend, Chrystale. Shaw was just three doors away from his house in the 2100 block of 5th Avenue when a white compact car cruised down the street.
Two Latino men jumped out of the car and asked Jamiel the dreaded question that so many young black men in South Los Angeles fear: Where are you from?
Jamiel didnt answer.
The men pulled out a gun and fired a round of bullets. Jamiel crumpled to the ground as the suspects sped away north on Fifth Avenue.
Jamiel Sr. said he heard the shots and ran out of the house. He found his son lying on the sidewalk, bleeding. The father stayed with his son until medical personnel arrived. Jamiel was transferred to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead at 9:55 p. m.
Friends and family say that Jamiel was not affiliated with any gang.
Jamiels mother, Army Sgt. Anita Shaw, who was on her second tour of duty in Iraq, flew back to Los Angeles Monday after hearing the news about her son.
She called crying, saying, Tell me its not my son, Althea Shaw, Jamiels aunt, told news sources. She was so proud. She felt he had made it through the hard times. She still called him her baby, even though he was taller than her.
Jamiel Sr. stood in front of his house, still in disbelief over his sons killing. Tears ran down his face as he surveyed the blue and white candles left by classmates--the school colors of the Romans of Los Angeles High School.
The father said he had an 18-year-old plan for his son, saying that he wanted to become a sports agent. I would tell him, Im going to get you to 18, and if you do what youre supposed to do, youll get to college. He was almost there.
The youths football coach, Hardy Williams, visited the family Monday. He was a very special kid, Williams said. Not only was he an outstanding athlete, he was a good person. Ive never seen Jamiel mad. He had such a big smile.
Hardy described Jamiel as a Houdini on the football field.
Many of Jamiels teammates were stunned when they heard the news of Jamilels murder, calling him the spirit of the team.
Jamiel Sr. told news sources that Jamiel had never missed a game because of an injury.
When he went on the field, he never came out, said Jamiel Sr. Hed never been hurt. This is the first time I ever saw him hurt.