The college basketball community is reeling over losing one of its own. On Monday (June 20), Houston Baptist University’s (HBU) star guard, Darius Lee, was shot and killed in New York while at a gathering.
Lee, 21, had reportedly attended a Father’s Day cookout given by rapper Rich Rhymer at Harlem River Park. According to the New York Daily News, a melee occurred between two rival gangs, gunshots rang out, and in the aftermath, nine people were shot, including the graduating senior who was shot in the chest. He later succumbed to his injuries after being transported to Lincoln Hospital. A gun was recovered from the scene, but authorities from the New York Police Department (NYPD) do not believe that Lee was the intended target.
Lee’s father, Eric, described his son as a child who didn’t drink, swear or curse. The grieving man also said, “He didn’t deserve this.”
The 6’6, 230-pound Harlem native had just returned home from Houston for summer break two weeks prior to his tragic death.
Houston Baptist University Athletics Department, the team’s head coach and the director of athletics released a statement regarding the loss of their shining star on Monday.
The university’s men’s head basketball coach, Ron Cottrell, said, “We are devastated. Darius was a remarkable young man who loved the Lord, his mom, his family, his teammates, his friends and his entire HBU family. We are in shock and cannot wrap our heads around this news.”
He continued, “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 [someday]. 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. Please keep his mom, sister and family in your prayers, as well as our HBU basketball family, during this very difficult time."
HBU Director of Athletics Steve Moniaci expressed his thoughts regarding Lee’s unexpected death.
"Our prayers are with his family first and most importantly, but also with his friends, coaches, and teammates. He was a very fine young man who had a very bright future in front of him both on and off the court. This is unfortunately, yet again, another example of the senseless gun violence that seems to be plaguing our country right now, and we all pray it will cease."
Lee was expected to graduate in December after attending the four-year university on a full scholarship and had recently received the HBU Robbie Robertson Male Student-Athlete of the Year award. The 21-year-old athlete was ranked sixth in the nation in steals per game.
Our prayers go out to his family.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this story misidentified Timmy Allen (Number 0) of the Texas Longhorns as Darius Lee. It has since been corrected. Our apologies for this error.