#Slain high school basketball star remembered as ‘role model’ at funeral

#Slain high school basketball star remembered as ‘role model’ at funeral

Slain Bronx teen basketball star Brandon Hendricks — one of the dozens of victims in the city’s recent gun-violence epidemic — was remembered as a “role model” and a leader during his heartbreaking funeral service that drew about 100 friends, family and city dignitaries.

“Brandon was a coach’s dream. He listened. He looked you in the eye. He was responsible and dependable,” James Monroe High School varsity basketball coach Nigel Thompson told grievers of 17-year-old Hendricks, who graduated from the Bronx school just days before he was shot dead.

“He was respectful, humble and kind,” Thompson said as Hendricks’ teammates stood alongside the coach wearing matching red and white jerseys bearing the number “5,” the Jersey number of Hendricks, their team captain and starting point guard.

On the backs of the jerseys read the hashtag, “#livelike5.”

“Brandon is a role model. He is a kid who did everything right…He should be with us here today,” said Thompson, who added that Hendricks “loved his mother deeply.”

Ahead of the emotional service at the First Baptist Church in the Bronxville section of the borough, tearful grievers lined up to say their final goodbyes to the promising teen whose life was senselessly cut short in the early hours of June 28.

Hendricks, a Bronx native, laid dressed in white inside a mahogany casket flanked by large floral arrangements – one in the shape of a white heart with “son” spelled out in blue flowers and another in the shape of a basketball – at the front of the cavernous church.

A photo collage of the teen showing snaps of him as a child, an action-shot of him in his basketball uniform and an image of him in his high school graduation cap and gown stood near the casket.

Hendricks’ distraught mother, Eve Hendricks, leaned over her son’s body, touching him and weeping in a gut-wrenching scene.

Before Hendricks was eulogized by the Rev. Al Sharpton, the mother hugged and kissed her son, placed a white cloth over him and closed the casket, prompting mourners in the church to sob.

Hendricks was fatally struck by a stray bullet in the early hours of June 28 at a friend’s birthday cookout in the neighborhood of Morris Heights, making him one of the innocent bystanders to fall victim to the city’s surge in shootings.

Isaiah Campbell pauses after signing a basketball for his friend and former teammate Brandon Hendricks (inset) during the funeral.
Isaiah Campbell pauses after signing a basketball for his friend and former teammate Brandon Hendricks (inset) during the funeral.Getty Images; Courtesy of Hendricks family

Suspect Najhim Luke, 22, was charged with murdering the hoops prospect.

During the funeral service, Sharpton, who announced that he will create a scholarship fund in Hendricks’ name, told mourners that the teenager “was on his way to a bright life, but God used Brandon to challenge us.”

Hendricks “was cut down because we built and allowed an unsafe city,” he said.

“This was done by our brothers that should have been Brandon’s keeper not his killer,” said Sharpton, explaining that “the way to teach America that black lives matter is to make it matter to each other first.”

Sharpton spoke of the recent uptick in gun violence plaguing the Big Apple and the urgent need to get firearms off the streets.

“I don’t know anything more despicable than a 1-year-old child and a 17-year-old aspiring star losing their life senselessly and we don’t have anyway to justify,” Sharpton said in reference to Hendricks and little Davell Gardner, the tot fatally shot outside a Brooklyn park this week.

Hendricks, Sharpton said, “is in a better place.”

“He’s in a place now where stray bullets don’t fly,” Sharpton said. “He’s in a place now where he doesn’t have to worry about the wickedness of those that sit high and look low.”

“He’s in a safer place now,” said Sharpton. “He’s not in a community where we have to be afraid of the cops and robbers.”

City politicians including Rep. Eliot Engel, Councilman Andy King and Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson also spoke during the service.

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