Community Mourns Loss of Rising Miami Basketball Star

A community is in mourning after the death of rising basketball star Malcolm Nicholas III, who was shot dead in Overtown.

"I thought he was going to do big things and make a big difference in our community, and it's unfortunate," Gibson Park manager Ben Hanks said. "We're not going to have an opportunity to see what he turned out to be."

Nicholas' mother said she is "very distraught."

"I'm not holding up well. I haven't eaten. I can't sleep. I'm paranoid," she said. "My baby โ€“ here just for the weekend, so I want to know why and who did it. Why? We need answers. People need to talk. No one's saying anything."

Nicholas was shot and killed Sunday night in Miami's Overtown neighborhood, police said. No arrests have been reported and police have not revealed if they believe there was a motive. Family members have said the 18-year-old was there visiting relatives.

Miami Heat captain Udonis Haslem considered himself a mentor to Malcolm Nicholas III, a promising 6-foot-5 guard from Miami who was being pursued by numerous colleges.

That's why Haslem's heart is heavy right now.

"Some kids get in trouble and put themselves in bad situations, but this was a really good kid," Haslem said Tuesday. "A really good kid. It's sad, man. It's sad. He was on his way out of here. He was going to go play ball. I think he was going to Eastern Michigan next year."

Nicholas played at Miami High and Mater Academy in Miami, and was currently taking a postgraduate year in Tennessee to raise his profile with college recruiters. He was also converting to the point guard position, and averaged more than 20 points per game as a senior.

Haslem, in a series of social-media posts and then comments after practice Tuesday, has not made any effort to hide his anguish.

"It broke my heart," Haslem said. "We just get home from a two-week road trip and I'm all excited to get back to my family, to my kids. And then to hear that, it takes the air out of you. No parent should ever have to deal with that."

Haslem spoke at length with Nicholas' father on Tuesday, offering whatever support he can provide. Nicholas' father, like Haslem, played at Miami High. When Haslem played there, he said Nicholas' father was a mentor to him โ€” one of the reasons why he chose to befriend Nicholas III.

"He was pretty much one of the assistant coaches at Miami High, a volunteer guy, a guy who volunteered his time because he was a Miami High graduate," Haslem said of the elder Nicholas. "He just wanted to be around inner-city kids, bring positive energy and keep us straight off the court. We needed a ride, we called him. His dad made a difference for a lot of kids in my era. Made a difference for me."

Police said the investigation is continuing. Anonymous tips can be sent to Crime Stoppers: 305-471-TIPS.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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