Francis' mother: He was destined for greatness

BATON ROUGE, La. -- The mother of a USC basketball player gunned down Mother's Day weekend said Thursday she knew her only child was destined for greatness and hoped his life would inspire others.

"He was tickled pink about going to USC, especially with Tim [Floyd] coming on. He was thrilled and ready to go," Paulette Francis said.

Floyd coached the NBA's Chicago Bulls and New Orleans Hornets before taking over at USC. Floyd is in town for Ryan Francis' funeral Saturday and the entire team will travel to Baton Rouge on Friday for the services.

"Immediately you knew he had a respect for people," Floyd said. "Everything was 'yes sir, no sir,' which you don't get anymore."

Francis, 19, was among four passengers whose vehicle pulled up to a stoplight early last Saturday. The driver of another vehicle got out and opened fire, said Lt. Keith Bates of the Baton Rouge Police Department. Francis, who was sitting in the back seat, was shot multiple times.

Bates said no one else in the vehicle was injured. D'Anthony Norman Ford was arrested without incident Saturday and booked on one count of first-degree murder.

Paulette Francis said she hopes her son's life, however brief, might serve as an example to the community.

"They have good kids here, smart kids here, and he wanted them to know that if he did it, so can they," she said.