'Gentle Giant' to be honored at Sixers game

Massey
Massey
Posted: March 31, 2014

CHRISTIAN MASSEY will be larger than life tonight, bigger than the "gentle giant" ever was when he walked this earth.

Photos of Massey will flash across the gigantic video screens that loom above the court at Wells Fargo Center during halftime of the Sixers-Pistons game.

The photos will be part of a moving tribute from Special Olympics Pennsylvania to the kind-hearted mentally disabled young man, who cops say was slain in the fall over a pair of headphones.

Had he still been alive, Massey would have participated in a scheduled exhibition game between his old team, the Delco Dunkers, and an All-Star team of Special Olympic athletes from Bucks, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties, Special Olympics officials said yesterday.

"He was a kind and compassionate person who never thought of himself first," said Denise Dellaratta, the manager of the Special Olympic's Delaware County program, who knew Massey from when he was just 12 years old.

"He was a kid who was trying to make a difference in his own life."

Massey was 21 when he was gunned down in Overbrook on Nov. 30. Police have said Arkel Tymeer Garcia, the man charged with Massey's murder, wanted to steal his $300 "Beats by Dr. Dre" headphones.

Massey went to Marple Newtown High School for six years, and played two years of varsity football and one year of varsity basketball, endearing himself to many at the school along the way.

In the wake of Massey's slaying, Ray Gionta, Marple Newtown's coach, described the 6-foot-2, 300-pound athlete to the Daily News as a 'gentle giant.'

The halftime festivities are part of a growing partnership between the Sixers and the Special Olympics, officials said.

Dellaratta said some of Massey's family members are expected to be in attendance, along with hundreds of relatives of other Special Olympic athletes.


On Twitter: @dgambacorta

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