Slain basketball star honored at vigil

STEVEN M. FALK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Quahdir Devine's life was honored by family and friends at East Poplar Playground in North Philly last night. The 18-year-old basketball standout was gunned down on New Year's Eve.
STEVEN M. FALK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Quahdir Devine's life was honored by family and friends at East Poplar Playground in North Philly last night. The 18-year-old basketball standout was gunned down on New Year's Eve.
Posted: January 16, 2014

FOR A FEW minutes last night, Quahdir Devine was back, appearing larger than life on the North Philadelphia playground that was his second home.

The slain Ben Franklin High basketball star's life was chronicled in a slide show projected onto a screen in East Poplar Playground, on 8th Street near Brown.

A crowd of about 50 of Devine's relatives, classmates and neighbors huddled under an overpass, SEPTA trains thundering above as the presentation showed Devine as a cheerful baby, a smiling teen, and a determined player in a Franklin Electrons uniform.

"He was a gentle giant, that's the best way I can describe him," Tracey Devine said last night at the vigil held in her son's memory. "Everybody knew him: Kids keep coming up to us saying they want to 'dunk like Quack' [Devine's nickname] when they're older. When you see everybody here like this, it really hits you. This madness has to stop."

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 have been reported, but friends say he was celebrating the holiday when teens began to argue, and someone pulled out a gun and fired.

A police source said last night a shooting nearby that killed Khaleef Johnson, 23, late Monday may have been retaliation for Devine's slaying.

"He didn't have two lives. All he cared about was school and basketball," said Devine's aunt, Tina Devine. "It's absolutely the case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time."

The community came out in full force to comfort the Devine family, with prayers said by local pastors and songs of inspiration sung by the young man's friends.

At the end of the ceremony, the crowd released balloons. They were all blue, the late hoops star's favorite color.

"When they took him, they took something beautiful," said Gail Thomas, a close friend of the Devine family. "You can't even put this into words; all you know is that you're hurt."


On Twitter: @Vellastrations

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