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30 Jul 2021

Tommie Frazier: A young man with dreams of playing in the NBA (COVER STORY PART II)

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July 30, 2021 Category: Local Posted by:

More coverage: COVER STORY PART I

Frazier, along with his friend Kaylin “KJ”Johnson, became two of the latest victims in the city’s rising crime wave.

By Napoleon F. Kingcade 

Any person who knew 18-year-old Tommie Frazier could easily see the great talent this kid had on the basketball court. It didn’t matter where he played basketball, once Frazier had the ball in his hand, he could thrill the crowd with his ankle-breaking moves. During games, he would make blind passes from behind his back. And when he wanted to shake off defenders, Frazier would hit one of his unbelievable jumpers to blow people’s minds.

Frazier had dreams of playing basketball in the NBA. He loved the game and the game loved him — until his life was cut short last week.

 Philadelphia Police have identified the two teenagers who were killed during a triple shooting in West Philadelphia as 18-year-old Tommie Frazier and 16-year-old Kaylin “KJ” Johnson. 

The incident took place on July 21, around noon, near the intersection of 56th & Vine Streets.  Frazier was scheduled to play basketball at Simon Gratz High School this fall,  and continue to pursue a career in the sport.

When police arrived at the scene, Frazier was found on the street, his body riddled with gunshot wounds. Johnson, his longtime friend, was found inside a Blue Hyundai Elantra with gunshot wounds to his face and body.

Police said that both victims were rushed to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center,  where they were both pronounced dead shortly after.. Authorities say another 16-year-old victim suffered a gunshot wound to the shoulder during the gunfire. He has since recovered.     

Mayor Kenney said during a recent press conference that the triple shooting represents “a sadness that should affect every Philadelphia citizen.”

 “We are losing a generation of young people who could be great contributors in today’s society,” he said.

Kenney also reiterated that he does not intend to declare a state of emergency over the recent gun violence. He said he doesn’t believe it would make a significant difference — especially after the city had already addressed the issue. 

Kenney’s stance on this issue has angered many community leaders and members of City Council, who have criticized Kenney’s administration for failing to treat the crisis with any type of urgency.

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw has also expressed that she is also not happy about the large number of murders across the city. Right now, she is concerned that the city’s residents are living in fear.

 “I don’t want us to live in fear,” Outlaw said. “We are all residents. And we have to take back our community. Right now, we have to take back our blocks.”       

Outlaw and other law officials still can’t come up with a solution to stop the recent killings. Authorities have not made any arrests in the recent triple shooting, and need the public’s help. Since the double murder, investigators still haven’t determined what sparked the triple gun fire.                         

According to police, Frazier was sitting in the car with a few of his friends, on their way to play some basketball. That’s when a gunman approached the car from the street. The suspect fired several shots and killed Frazier and Kaylin Johnson at the scene. Police say they found 17 shell casings around the car.                  

It had just been a few weeks since Kaylin Johnson got his driver’s license. He picked up his friends and they were on their way to play basketball. The mother of 16-year-old Kaylin Johnson said her last conversation with her son was when he asked permission to drive the car to the YMCA before she went to work — unfortunately, he never made it there.

Kaylin had great talent, too.

 This coming September, Johnson was headed into his junior year at Boys Latin Charter School. According to the school’s statistics, Johnson became the sixth student from Boys Latin Charter School to lose their life to gun violence, and the second in just a few months. Three months ago, Boys Latin High School had lost another student to gun violence — Kahree Simmons, a beloved member of the Class of 2023, was shot and murdered at Christy Recreation Center.

Since Frazier’s death, there have been two vigils held in his memory. The first one was held last week at the Christy Recreation Center where he grew up and played basketball. On July 26, family and friends attended a memorial for Frazier at Boys Latin High School. 

In a sad twist of events, Frazier and Johnson ran in the same basketball circles with Quamir Mitchell, a West Philadelphia High player who just two months ago was fatally shot and killed on the 5600 block of Grays Avenue, where a basketball court is located in Southwest Philadelphia. That month, Mitchell was set to graduate from West Philadelphia High in the next two weeks. 

While I mourn the death of all three young men, I had close dealings with two of the players. As a youth basketball coach, Frazier and Mitchell played on my team. They played for me three years ago in an outdoor basketball league held at Francis Myers Recreation Center, located at 58th and Kingsessing Avenue.               

Both Frazier and Mitchell played a number of games for me. Both were incredible basketball players. After Frazier played for my team, I never saw him again until four months ago, when I ran  into him at a church in North Philadelphia that was converted into a youth athletic center. 

Frazier was inside the center, engaging in a basketball workout. I spoke to him and told him how happy I was to see him. I then asked him what he was doing hanging in North Philly, because I have always thought he lived in West Philly. With a smile on his face, Frazier told me he had a family member who lived there. 

Before I left the athletic center, I watched Frazier dominate the basketball court like an NBA basketball player. Little did I know it would be the last time I would see him with a basketball in his hand — and now he’s gone. It’s hard to believe that his young life has been tragically taken away. The news of his death is hard to swallow.        

More coverage: “Our village is dying” (Cover story part 1, violence in Philadelphia)

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