Houston Baptist University basketball star killed in East Harlem shooting that left 8 wounded, university says

The athlete was killed during a shooting in Harlem, New York

A star athlete from Houston Baptist University was killed at a gathering in his hometown of East Harlem, New York early Monday, the school said.

Darius Lee, 21, a senior at HBU, played basketball as a guard during his time at HBU and was on-track to graduate with his bachelor’s degree in sports management in December, according to the university. He was recently named HBU’s Robbie Robertson Male Student-Athlete of the Year for the 2021-2022 season after leading his team in rebounds and was sixth in the nation in steals per game.

“We are devastated,” said Ron Cottrel, men’s basketball coach for HBU. “Darius was a remarkable young man who loved the Lord, his mom, his family, his teammates, his friends, and his entire HBU family.”

Cottrel said Lee’s mother called him this morning letting him know of the devastating news. He then went to campus where he was greeted with a number of his players, “not a lot of words were said,” said Cottrel. “I think the first thing you think, you all want to be together, see each other, a lot of hugs.”

Lee’s last game at Sharp Gym he scored 52 points with 18 rebounds.

“The sky was the limit for him as a pro-athlete moving down the line,” Cottrel said. “He was a leader on our team and somebody our guys all looked up to and just a terrific young man, regardless of his basketball ability, which was impeccable, he was an even better person.”

According to NBC News, Brian McGee, deputy chief of the New York City Police Department, said in a news conference that police had been called to numerous reports of people shot at what appeared to be a gathering at around 12:40 a.m. in East Harlem.

Upon arrival, officers found five people shot on a footpath along the FDR under the Madison Avenue Bridge, he said. All five victims, including Lee, were taken to area hospitals by emergency crews. Four others were taken by a private vehicle.

Lee later died at the hospital, NBC News reported.

“This Father’s Day weekend is a weekend where people were supposed to be able to enjoy themselves with their families,” NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said at a news conference.

The investigation was ongoing Monday and police didn’t immediately have details about the gathering, possible suspects, or what may have led to the shooting. A gun was recovered from the scene, police said.

The New York Daily News reported that the gathering was a cookout organized by Harlem rapper Rich Rhymer, who posted invitations on his Instagram account. He noted that his two prior cookouts had been free of violence and wrote: “LETS GO FOR A 3PEAT.”

In a release from HBU, the university said the entire community is mourning his loss.

“Our prayers are with his family first and most importantly, but also with his friends, coaches, and teammates,” HBU Director of Athletics Steve Moniaci said in a statement. “He was a very fine young man who had a very bright future in front of him both on and off the court.”

NBC News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

About the Author:

A graduate of the University of Houston-Downtown, Ana moved to H-Town from sunny southern California in 2015. In 2020, she joined the KPRC 2 digital team as an intern. Ana is a self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur, a catmom of 2, and an aquarium enthusiast. In her spare time, she's an avid video gamer and loves to travel.