The group text went out among friends at Northeast High School almost every day after the final bell:
Who wants to play pickup football at Woodrow Wilson Middle School?
Almost every time, Ian Wilsey's buddies said, he would say yes.
The 14-year-old ninth grader was outgoing, athletic, and funny, a big personality with a unique sense of humor.
"Always had everyone laughing," said Joshua Legacy, 17. "Always had a smile on his face."
The last football game they played was Monday. Hours later, according to police, Wilsey was shot dead in an ambush-style attack on a Mayfair street.
The friends have been unable to bring themselves to play since. Instead, six of them gathered Wednesday outside Wilsey's mother's apartment while she was out, sharing stories about him, looking at photos of him on their phones, and hoping they might be able to offer words of comfort to his mom and two brothers whenever they returned.
"I didn't think it would be possible" for Wilsey to be killed, said Evan Dunn, 15. "I just didn't believe it was him."
"He was a very likable person," said a 16-year-old who asked to be identified only as Kevin. "It was hard to get mad at him."
Authorities on Wednesday continued searching for leads on Wilsey's two male attackers, who were wearing hoodies, police said. One fired a semiautomatic handgun at Wilsey and a friend on the 6200 block of Brous Avenue around 9 p.m. Monday, according to police.
The friend - whom police have not identified - initially told detectives that he and Wilsey had been heading to a nearby store for a snack. But a source with knowledge of the investigation said detectives now believe the teens were ambushed after the men saw them selling marijuana to another friend on the street.
The source said it appeared that Wilsey "just didn't get away fast enough."
Wilsey was struck once in the chest and taken to Aria Health-Torresdale Campus, where he was pronounced dead at 9:37 p.m. Monday, according to police.
A GoFundMe page established to pay for his funeral expenses had raised nearly all of its $10,000 goal by Wednesday evening.
Some of Wilsey's friends said Wednesday that he often hung out with teens from different groups at school, some more prone to trouble than others. But all agreed that he was not the type to instigate or seek out danger. He loved football, basketball, and video games such as Call of Duty.
Legacy said he would remember Wilsey's big personality on the football field.
And Kevin, who was introduced to Wilsey while playing the game Clash of Clans, became fast friends with him. Wilsey's death, Kevin said, creates a void that no one can fill.
"Ian was always in the middle of everyone," Kevin said. "To be honest, Ian would be the last person I would expect to pass away."