NEW YORK — When Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry took the court at Barclays Center to compete in the Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout and Degree Shooting Stars contest on All-Star Saturday Night, he followed through on plans to "honor the memory" of Deah Shaddy Barakat, one of three Muslim students killed this week near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Barakat, 23, his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, were shot to death on Tuesday in North Carolina, where Curry grew up and starred for Davidson College. Craig Stephen Hicks, "a self-described 'gun toting' atheist with a reputation for bullying his neighbors," later turned himself in and faces three charges of first-degree murder.
Barakat's sister, Suzanne, told reporters during a press conference in Raleigh, N.C., on Wednesday that her brother, a second-year dental student at the UNC School of Dentistry, "was well-known for his 'all embracing kindness, lightheartedness, dedication to community service, love for basketball and anything Steph Curry.'" He frequently communicated his love of Curry on his Twitter account.
Word of Barakat's fandom soon reached Curry, who tweeted a message of condolence:
— Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30) February 13, 2015
Curry later decided to pay special tribute to Barakat, according to Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group:
— Golden St. Warriors (@warriors) February 15, 2015
Curry said he will write on his shoes and hoped the tribute to one of his biggest fans would be picked up by national television cameras at Barclays Center in Brooklyn as he participates in the Three-Point Contest.
"Even though we never met, I think it will hopefully mean a lot to his family and friends that knew what kind of a basketball fan he was to have some kind of peace knowing that people are thinking about him and they're not alone," said Curry, the leading vote-getter in the All-Star balloting. [...]
"[..] anytime you have a guy that was that supportive and takes it to a whole another level, I'm going to do something tonight," said Curry, who typically writes the Bible verse "I can do all things..." on his shoes.
Curry instead referenced a different verse, Romans 8:28. That passage reads, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
Curry's planned tribute was briefly derailed, as the shoes he planned to wear during All-Star Saturday Night — two different variations of his signature Under Armour Curry One sneaker, the "Candy Reign" and "Father to Son" models, earmarked for the Three-Point Shootout and Shooting Stars contest, respectively — were "stolen in transit to Brooklyn," as reported by George Kiel of NiceKicks.com. The theft was reported in time for Under Armour to make alternate arrangements, though; ESPN.com's Darren Rovell reported that the backup pairs would be "carried to the Barclays Center for Curry to wear," and for him to pay his respects to his late fan.
After winning Saturday's Three-Point Shootout, Curry spoke briefly about his decision to commemorate Barakat's passing.
"I've been following the story all week," he said. "There's been a lot of supporters of him and his family, Deah and his family. Obviously having North Carolina roots, and once I got to know who Deah was as a person and the stories everybody was telling me, it only seemed right to honor him and his family, and hopefully they know that people are thinking about them.
"They're not alone, and hopefully it can give them some kind of peace and comfort knowing that he was a special guy. And I just did my little part to shed that light towards him. [...] Obviously it's a great platform to be on, but it only seemed right."
2015 NBA All-Star Game coverage from Yahoo Sports:
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