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Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes, who played two-and-a-half seasons for the Dallas Mavericks spanning 2016-19, will pay for more than half of the funeral services for Atatiana Jefferson, Fox 4 Forth Worth reported Thursday. The Dallas Morning news reported that the Philadelphia Eagles’ Malik Jackson will pay for the remainder.
Jefferson, 28, was shot and killed in her home by Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean on Saturday while watching her young nephew. The shooting occurred after a concerned neighbor called the non-emergency police line to ask for a check on her welfare, because Jefferson’s door was open, which he thought was unusual. Dean arrived with another officer, and walked the perimeter of the house, looking in through glass doors without announcing his presence.
According to investigators, when he got to a back window, Dean saw someone inside the home and said “Put your hands up. Show me your hands,” and then immediately fired a shot.
Dean was arrested and charged with murder that night and has since been released on a $200,000 bond.
Barnes, now with the Sacramento Kings, discussed his inspiration to contribute, and the need for change surrounding gun violence.
“The biggest thing is, any time someone has to go through that, the last thing you want to have to worry about is trying to come up with the money for a funeral. It’s about the family, going through our prayers with them,” he said. “It was a gesture that my wife and I wanted to do for them.”
Barnes has a history of giving back to the North Texas community. In 2018, Barnes, his wife and his mother put together and gave out Thanksgiving meals to dozens of South Dallas families. He also sponsored the renovation of two basketball courts at the Mesquite Boys & Girls Club, as well as hosted youth basketball camps and put on two back-to-school shopping events. He hosted additional youth events throughout his time in Dallas.
Lee Merritt, the attorney representing Jefferson’s family, told the Dallas Morning News that the athletes “reached out to him about paying for the funeral and didn’t want to make a big to-do about their generosity.”
The wake for Jefferson is scheduled for Friday night, according to Fox 4, with funeral services scheduled for Saturday afternoon. Both will be held at Potter's House of Dallas, a megachurch with a capacity of about 8,000.
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