Two Chicago high school seniors who are basketball stars were shot and wounded late Monday while talking outside a home in the Englewood neighborhood, according to police, school officials and the mother of one of the victims.
The injured are TaKiya “TK” Howard, a student at De La Salle Institute who plans to play basketball at Murray State University in Kentucky, and Tyler Johnson, a student at DePaul College Prep High School who was recruited by and expects to enroll at Loyola University Chicago, according to Howard’s mother and school officials.
Howard, 18, and a friend went out to eat Monday night and wanted to go get ice cream, said Kimberly Howard, 46, TK’s mother. The two stopped at Johnson’s apartment in the 7000 block of South Throop Street and talked with Johnson, 17, while they sat in the friend’s car.
About 11:55 p.m., the friends heard gunshots, police said. Johnson suffered a graze wound to the back of the head and TK Howard, who was sitting in the passenger seat of the car, was shot in the ear.
Johnson went inside his apartment and called 911 while Howard’s friend drove her to St. Bernard Hospital, according to a Chicago police report that cited preliminary information. The car had several bullet holes, and police found more than 40 bullet casings and rifle rounds in the area, the report said. Johnson told police shots were fired from a vehicle, though he wasn’t able to provide a description, police said.
Johnson was taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center in good condition. Howard was later transferred to Stroger Hospital and was stable and responsive, her mother said. The bullet, however, remained lodged in her daughter’s neck, just inches from her carotid artery, her mother said. Doctors expected to release her later Tuesday without removing the bullet, her mother said, because of its precarious position near a main artery.
Johnson is committed to playing basketball at Loyola University this fall, the university confirmed.
“Our primary concern is that Ty has a full and quick recovery,” the university said in a statement.
During his junior season in high school, Johnson averaged 22.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.3 steals per game, according to Loyola. He hit 119 three-point shots during his sophomore and junior seasons. He made the second team all-city his junior season as well.
After his freshman and sophomore years of high school, Johnson played travel basketball with ALL IN Athletics, said Billy Welcome, co-owner and CEO of ALL IN. Johnson is a “really, really great kid” on and off the court, Welcome said, a natural leader and “wonderful teammate.”
When the University of Oklahoma hired Loyola coach Porter Moser and people asked if Johnson would stay committed, he took to Twitter to clear the air, saying he was “1000% committed” to Loyola.
“That shows his loyalty,” Welcome said, “his want to impact the city of Chicago.”
Howard was a four-year varsity basketball starter and scored more than 1,000 points in her career, breaking the school’s scoring record with 1,198 points as of March 16, the Beverly Review reported. She was selected for the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference’s all-conference team all four seasons. She is committed to playing Division I basketball at Murray State in the fall, said Rechelle Turner, women’s basketball coach at the university.
“When I got the call, the first one, it was like my heart was about to jump out of my chest,” Kimberly Howard said. “I don’t want any mother to get a phone call that their baby has been shot.”
If the bullet had gone an inch farther and hit her carotid artery or an inch higher into her brain, Kimberly Howard said, she’d have gotten a very different call, asking her to identify her daughter’s body.
Kimberly Howard was able to see her daughter at St. Bernard Hospital. With one bandage over her ear and another across her neck, TK Howard looked up and said, “Mommy, I’m OK,” Kimberly Howard said.
Kimberly Howard believes that whoever shot at her daughter had mistaken the friend’s car for someone else they were looking for. TK Howard, Johnson and the driver of the car are “good kids,” all three committed to play basketball in college.
“Those are good kids,” Kimberly Howard said. “No gang banging. No illicit activity. Honor roll students. My daughter is a member of the National Honor Society, and probably the other two as well.”
TK Howard started playing AAU travel basketball with Example Sports last summer because she wanted to get more scholarship offers, said Barry Bradford, the organization’s founder. He immediately noticed Howard’s “bright spirit” and “jokester” attitude.
Howard worked hard to obtain her scholarship offer from Murray State, which she received during the pandemic, Bradford said. She “accomplished her dreams” in one of the hardest times for high school students, he said.
Bradford said Howard will utilize the same self-driven motivation that fuels her on the court as she recovers from Monday’s shooting “to come back even stronger.”
“TK is going to do great things in this world,” Bradford said. “I’m just grateful that some crazy thing didn’t rob her of that opportunity.”
Area 1 detectives were investigating, and no one was in custody.
Check back for updates.
Chicago Tribune’s Rosemary Sobol and Paige Fry contributed.