Brotherhood, bond and family are words uttered so frequently around boys’ high school sports teams that they can often become clichés.
Tragedy, however, reveals the truth behind those sentiments.
As recent La Salle graduate and basketball player Jarrod Stukes fights to recover from multiple gunshot wounds he suffered Sunday night, former teammates, friends and the La Salle community at large have rallied behind their fallen friend and struggle to make sense of the senseless.
“I’ve literally heard from hundreds of people,” La Salle coach Joe Dempsey said. “From college coaches, to parents of players, former players, current players and people in the media. All we can do now is just pray.”
Stukes is a 5-foot-8, tough and tenacious point guard who committed to Clarion and was set to attend the school later this month.
He also has two older brothers: Amar, who graduated from La Salle College High in 2013 and is now a major contributor on the La Salle University basketball team, and Nadir, who played at Engineering and Science (2011) and later at Rosemont College.
According to police, at around 11:14 p.m. Sunday, Stukes was at a block party at 39th and Melon Streets when shots were fired as officers attempted to disperse the more than 100 people who were gathered.
At least 30 shots were fired and police were still investigating who shot and why. The intended targets were also unknown.
Three other males were also wounded in the incident. A bullet passed through the windshield of a fifth man who was sitting in his car at the time of the incident. Police hope to collect video surveillance to shed further light on the incident.
Stukes was shot multiple times and, according to Dempsey, his status at Presbyterian Hospital has changed from critical to stable. A long road remains, Dempsey said.
He added that Stukes was able to open his eyes Tuesday, but was unable to speak.
Now, former teammates are speaking for him.
“When I heard [multiple] times, I was devastated,” said 2015 La Salle graduate Dan Corr, now a junior at Notre Dame. “But when I heard Coach say there’s a chance he’ll make it, I texted him back and said, ‘I don’t know what to say and I’m sad, but I know he’s going to make it.’ Whether it was on the court or growing up with two college basketball players for older brothers, [fighting] isn’t new to him. This is totally different, but he’s been fighting his whole life, and he’s good at it.”
Chris Carabello, director of marketing and communications at La Salle, said students – old and new – have shown up at the school to sign an extra large card with well wishes for Stukes. The plan is to present the card at the hospital when possible.
“You see a lot of familiar faces come through the waiting room and you try to rally,” Dempsey said. “I got to see [Stukes] yesterday. He recognized me, and he started crying. It’s tough to see a young guy just laying there that you have so many good memories with.”
Dempsey was proud of the support La Salle has shown and also noted that Stukes’ father, Dhaamin, a longtime youth basketball coach, has also had a tremendous number of supporters descend upon the hospital.
The reason the support is required, however, frustrates Dempsey.
“Something’s gotta be done about the guns that are on the street,” Dempsey said. “I’m not smart enough to figure it out, but this can’t be the answer to whatever dispute there may have been. There’s other ways to settle things. There’s just gotta be another way. Thirty years ago, you’d have a fistfight in an alley and that would be the end of it. Now the stakes are so much higher, and just to have a kid with so much promise senselessly [shot], what could have been so important that you just felt the need to shoot down an 18-year-old? I just can’t get my brain around it.”
Staff writer Chris Palmer contributed to this article.