Friends mourn slain hoops star

Quahdir Devine, gunned down New Year's Eve
Quahdir Devine, gunned down New Year's Eve
Posted: January 03, 2014

IN THE minutes before tipoff yesterday afternoon, Benjamin Franklin High School's gym was filled with the usual sounds of high school basketball: sneakers scuffing on hardwood, players shouting, the swish of nets.

Then, as if a switch had been flipped, the only sound was the buzz of fluorescent lights.

"Thank you all for coming . . ." Dustin Hardy-Moore, the Franklin Electrons' assistant coach, said as he stood at halfcourt. "This is a struggle for all of us, but we will go through it as one."

At Hardy-Moore's feet was the jersey worn by Quahdir Devine, the player to whom yesterday's moment of silence - and, Hardy-Moore later said, the rest of the season - was dedicated.

Police say Devine, 18, was gunned down in front of a North Philly doughnut shop on New Year's Eve, the 247th and final homicide of 2013. No suspects or motive were reported, but Hardy-Moore said Devine had been hanging out with friends celebrating the holiday when teens began to argue and someone pulled out a gun and fired.

Devine was "an innocent bystander" who wasn't specifically targeted, Hardy-Moore said.

"All he wanted to do was play basketball and go to school," he said of Devine. "He never got into any drama or trouble. He was known for laughing, smiling, telling jokes and playing basketball."

Devine was particularly good at the last activity, leading the Electrons in scoring last season, averaging 16.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. He also made the city's All-Public third team last year.

And although he was on the team's roster this season, he wasn't playing, because as a second-year senior he was ineligible under Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association rules, Hardy-Moore said. The coaches had been lobbying the PIAA to allow him to play.

"He could do anything he wanted on the court," Marquise Horton, 17, Devine's close friend and teammate on the Electrons, said before yesterday's game against Strawberry Mansion High.

Horton said he'd known Devine since he was 5 years old, and echoed Hardy-Moore's description of him as a kind, gentle soul.

"When I found out [he had been killed], I couldn't believe it was true," Horton said. "He didn't do anything to anybody; he was just a positive person.

"When it finally sunk in, I just broke down and cried."

Horton said the whole school seemed to feel Devine's passing yesterday, students' first day back after the Christmas break.

There was talk of canceling the game, head coach Larry Gainey said, but the school's administration thought the best way to honor the player Gainey described as "very humble and reserved" was to push on.

"It's a very big loss for us in more ways than one," he said, "but it's also a loss for the school. This was a good kid.

"We're going to feel this for a long time. I just hope that the kids on the team and the school can rebound from this."

To hear Horton tell it, Devine's teammates have discovered how best to cope with the loss.

"We're just going to win," Horton said. "We're going to be the city champs, the state champs, all of that.

"We're gonna win it all - and we're gonna do it just for him."

- Staff writer Aaron Carter contributed to this report.


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