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Saturday, September 17, 2011
Hundreds at Tayshana Murphy funeral

By Matt Ehalt
Special to

NEW YORK -- One day after thousands came to Tayshana Murphy's wake, lining the streets for blocks outside a funeral home, another strong crowd came out Saturday to pay final respects to the basketball star who was killed less than a week ago.

Murphy, 18, known as "Chicken," was a point guard for Murry Bergtraum High School.

"It helps comfort us knowing how much she was loved," Murphy's sister, Tanaisha Williams, said after the funeral in Long Island City. "It will never take away the pain, losing a sister, a dear friend or a daughter. It makes us more comfortable to know Chicken was loved and how many people she touched."

Murphy was fatally shot early Sunday morning outside her home in the Grant Houses in Harlem. Police have identified two men -- Robert Cartagena, 20, and Tyshawn Brockington, 21 -- in connection with the homicide, but they have not been apprehended as of Saturday afternoon.

A third person, Terique Collins, 24, has been charged with criminal possession of a weapon; police say he was seen on video with a weapon at the scene of the crime.

Family, friends, teammates and coaches packed a small room on the third floor at Quinn Funeral Home on Saturday, with approximately 100 people standing behind the rows of seats. Many people had pictures of Murphy on chains around their necks. Several, including Williams, wore T-shirts bearing a photo of Murphy.

"It's a tragedy. She had so much to live for and she went too soon," Bergtraum head coach Ed Grezinsky said after the funeral. "I have a lot of good memories from her. She was a very good kid, tough background, but a good kid and it's very unfortunate."

Several family members and others who were close to Murphy talked during the funeral, telling stories and sharing their fondest memories.

Clifton Murphy spoke of his granddaughter's kind, gentle heart and how there was just something about her that brought people together. Two other speakers, including a reverend, took time to say that violence in the streets needs to stop and there should not be retaliation or revenge in Murphy's name.

Kasim Alston, the girls basketball coach at Bishop Loughlin and Murphy's godfather, delivered heartfelt remarks. He shared a story about going on a college visit with Murphy and said she was excited to move on to college in a year.

"Chicken was an impact player on and off the court," Alston said. "The moment she stepped on the court she was instant offense, and off the court she scored as well, in your hearts, with a smile, strong personality, strong will and she was just a loving person.

"Chicken had an impact on anybody and everybody she was ever around. I don't care if you were a baby, an adult, male or female, there was something about Chicken's love."

Alston also had a family friend, Adam Davis, share a text message with the audience from Lakers forward Ron Artest, who paid for Murphy to attend Bishop Loughlin her freshman year and a portion of her sophomore year. Murphy's father, Taylonn, told on Wednesday that the family has reached out to Artest, who recently changed his name to Metta World Peace.

"Chicken is a special person. Chicken is a great basketball player. It's hard for me to have someone take Chicken from my life. Therefore, I cannot use the word was. Besides, in Queensbridge, we don't die, we survive," World Peace, a Queens native, wrote in the text. "It's great to see someone at a young age who reminded me of myself. Chicken will continue to thrive. She will always be in my life. Love you, Chicken."

Williams, the only sibling of Murphy's to speak at the funeral, spoke about her sister's ambitions to play in the NBA -- not the WNBA -- and made the crowd laugh with some touching stories about Murphy's home life. She held off tears because she said her sister wouldn't have cried.

"My sister was very loved and everybody came and showed it," Williams said afterward. "Yesterday, if they didn't get in, they stood out here to see the family. It's just a lot of love and support."

Matt Ehalt is a regular contributor to