New York Knicks player Taj Gibson will pay for the funeral and wake of one-year-old Davell Gardner, who was fatally shot at a Bedford-Stuyvesant barbecue on July 12, representatives for Gibson said.
The power forward and Fort Greene native is paying out-of-pocket to cover the expenses of both memorials, and his charitable foundation, the Taj Gibson Foundation, is working with the Gardner family to provide them with anything they need as they mourn their son’s passing, a member of the foundation said.
“We are not involved [with the funeral], but we will be attending,” said Geo Miller, Gibson’s childhood friend who helps him run the Taj Gibson Foundation, which hosts programs for underserved Brooklyn youth. “We just took care of what the family wanted.”
At about 11:35 pm on July 12, Gardner was critically wounded when as many as three gunmen in a dark SUV opened fire at Raymond Bush Playground at Madison Street and Marcus Garvey Boulevard.
First responders rushed the baby and three other shooting victims to Maimonides Medical Center, where the one-year-old died of his injuries early Monday morning.
There have been no arrests in connection to the shooting, an NYPD spokeswoman said on July 21.
More than 100 locals attended a vigil for Gardner on July 14 on Madison Street and Marcus Garvey Boulevard, where attendees called for “unity” and a stop to the shootings that have plagued the neighborhood in recent weeks.
“I am asking for unity,” said local resident Robin Lyve, who lost her son to gun violence in September 2005. “We will weed out the civilians who feel the need to kill a one-year-old.”
Gardner’s tragic death comes amid a dramatic spike in gun violence citywide. On the night Gardner was killed, 11 other shootings occurred across Brooklyn, and one day later, a drive-by shooting in Canarsie left six people shot in just 14 minutes.
Anti-violence groups have condemned the violence and bumped up outreach efforts in response to the rising crime, organizing peace marches in Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant. Mayor Bill de Blasio has also spearheaded a new anti-violence initiative that will host resource fairs, increase access to support services, and boost police presence in areas plagued by gun violence.
On Saturday, Gibson organized a Cease Fire Peace Walk through Bedford-Stuyvesant that drew more than 100 attendees. The event is one of many efforts the pro-ball player has made to give back to his Brooklyn community and inspire young people through his foundation, his friend said.
“What we do is we provide opportunities for kids,” said Miller, who grew up with Gibson in Ingersoll Houses in Fort Greene, and added that the foundation is run by Gibson’s childhood friends. “All of us are all friends over 25 years. We’re like brothers.”