Philadelphia youth's hoop dreams dashed by a gunman
By Allison Steele and Rick O'Brien
Inquirer Staff Writers
Rashawn Anderson had his own cheering section in Tuesday's playoff game at South Philadelphia High School.
One of the many signs held by spectators read "Shawnee Rest in Peace." And moments after the buzzer sounded, giving Roxborough High School a dramatic 55-53 overtime victory, one of the team's student managers held high Anderson's blue-and-white No. 12 jersey, which had been draped over an empty seat during the game.
Anderson was supposed to have been on the court, too, racking up points as he usually did. Instead, his teammates voted to play the game in his honor.
Anderson, an 18 year-old senior, was gunned down Monday night by an unknown assailant who fired on him as he crossed a snow-covered hill in the East Falls apartment complex where he lived with his grandmother. Anderson was shot at least seven times and pronounced good about an hour later.
Anderson, "Shawnee" to many, was on his way to a nearby convenience store when he was attacked. Police believe the shooting may be related to a dispute between two feuding groups of teenagers in the area, but they said they had no suspects.
Family members said that as far as they knew, Anderson had no enemies.
"He got along with a lot of people, and he was loved by a lot of people," said his father, Shawn Anderson. "There were times he got in trouble in school, but every teenager gets in trouble in school."
Anderson grew up in the Abbotsford Homes complex where he lived. Family members described it as a close-knit community where some families stay for generations and everyone knows everyone.
Anderson enjoyed many sports, his family said, and fell in love with basketball at a young age.
"When he was 11, he was playing on the court with 15- and 17-year-olds," said Anderson's younger brother, Treshawn. "He was always playing."
In middle school, Anderson got into a fight with a teacher and was sent to an alternative disciplinary school run by Community Education Partners, a for-profit firm that operated in the district for the last decade.
Anderson then enrolled at Roxborough last school year. There, his problems seemed to vanish as he channeled his energy into playing for the school's Public League Division B team, the Indians.
As point guard, the five-foot-nine-inch Anderson was named to the coaches' Public League third-team all-star squad last season. He averaged 14 points in 10 games this season, and on Feb. 1 scored 22 points to lift his team to a 65-60 win over visiting Edward W. Bok Technical High School.
"He was happy, funny, fun-loving," said Lijha Lewis, a forward for the Indians and one of Anderson's closest friends. "You had to do something real serious to bother him or get him upset. He wasn't a bad kid."
Lewis was shocked to learn of Anderson's death.
"We had planned on going to college and playing ball together," he said.
Treshawn, Anderson's brother, said Anderson spent most of his free time at home with his girlfriend and his grandmother.
"He was always smiling, having fun," Treshawn Anderson said. "He kept everyone in high spirits. Kept us laughing."
Anderson planned to go to community college and then possibly transfer to a different school, his father said.
"He was really set on playing bassetball, on having a future in that," he said.
Anderson was the second Roxborough High School student killed in the last month. On Jan. 19, 18-year-old Christopher Foster was shot to death and found on Morris Street in Germantown. No arrests have been made, and police have said there are no indications the shootings are connected.