By Arturo R. García
Basketball fans are well-acquainted with stories about a local star who never got to show their skills outside the neighborhood courts.
And make no mistake, Tayshana Murphy was on her way to bigger things. As Grantland’s Jonathan Abrams wrote:
Mention a court in New York City — West 4th, Rucker, Orchard Beach — they don’t just know of Tayshana “Chicken” Murphy. They know her. She possessed that killer crossover and played “man strong,” as Taylonn, her father, likes to say. Tayshana loved contact. “Babies,” she called the girls who helplessly bounced off of her when she drove to the rim. She played taller than her 5-foot-7 and with a fierceness that contrasted against her gentle, hazel eyes.
Those eyes sized up Shannon Bobbitt of the WNBA’s Indiana Fever this summer.
Bobbitt conducts a clinic every year outside the Harlem projects where she grew up. The clinic is a way for children to see the footsteps she laid for them to follow. Bobbitt had heard of Tayshana and that she could ball. She probably had no idea that the high schooler was itching to test her skills against the professional.
“She’s fast as hell, Pops,” Tayshana told her father of Bobbitt. “But she’s so little. She can’t handle me. I’m too big for her.”
Murphy’s story came to a premature and violent end on Sept. 11, when she was shot and killed in the Grant Houses project where she lived. Initial reports said the shooting was a case of mistaken identity stemming from a feud between residents of the Grant Houses and the nearby Manhattanville Houses – a story her family refuted.
Three men have been arrested and charged in connection with Murphy’s murder: Tyshawn Brockington and Robert Cartagena, who allegedly shot her, and Terique Collins, accused of delivering the murder weapon. But since her death, details have emerged adding more layers to the tragedy.