The gun violence which has plagued Chicago all summer took the life of one of the city's most promising athletes, just as he was preparing to depart for a bright future in college basketball.
As confirmed by the Chicago Sun-Times, New York Daily News and a variety of other sources, Iona basketball recruit Michael Haynes was shot dead on Thursday night in Chicago. According to Haynes' cousin, the 6-foot-7 forward was shot in front of his house while trying to break up a fight, with bullets piercing his wrist, chest and lower back.
The Sun-Times reported that Haynes was transported to a nearby hospital shortly after the attack but died a little more than an hour after being shot.
Haynes' cousin, 25-year-old Kandice Blouin, said that Haynes was a completely innocent victim in the altercation that took his life.
"He was an innocent victim, very loved by everybody," Blouin told the Sun-Times. "He was our meal ticket. He was going to heal this hood and they took his life."
[Iona coach Tim Cluess on Haynes' death: "He was one of those kids you wanted to coach because he was a different personality"]
Haynes was known around his community for trying to help others out, a facet of his personality which shone through in the final tweet he sent before his death; a message for St. John's point guard Phil Greene, encouraging him to work hard in the summer so others didn't catch up to his skills.
Haynes, who recently completed a year at Indian Hills Community College after playing for two Chicago high schools -- Washington and Fenger -- and Heat Academy in Virginia, was seen as a bright spot in Iona's incoming class, both because of his talent and personality. His coach at Indian Hills, Barret Peery, previously described Haynes in an interview with SNY.tv as a versatile power forward who can run the floor and can defend against multiple positions. Perhaps most notable, he was frequently lauded for his immense passion for the game.
Immediately after learning of his death, Iona coach Tim Cluess told the Daily News that he was in a state of shock. He also spoke in much more detail with Prep Rally's brotherly college basketball blog, The Dagger, about his recruit's tragic death.
"It's just so hard," Cluess said. "I don't know how to describe it. Once you got to know Michael you just couldn't wait to coach him. He came from a very rough area in Chicago and he just wanted to make a better life for himself. He was just looking for a chance to change his life."
Now Haynes will never get that chance, the latest tragic repercussion of a brutal summer of violence in the windy city.
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