Friends, family of Keon Huff hold basketball charity tournament to promote anti-violence message

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HARTFORD – Back in March, a 15-year-old was shot and killed in Hartford. It has been four months since his friends and family lost him and they have continued to keep memories of him alive.

Those that knew Keon Huff, came together at the YMCA for a basketball charity tournament in his honor. They said basketball was his favorite sport and the game was a way for everyone to show the community that gun violence is not the answer.

“The last words he said to me was ‘I love you sis and be safe,’” said Inaeja Williams of Bridgeport.

Williams said Huff was like a brother to her. They had a bond like no other and were inseparable. On March 17, she received the devastating news that Huff was shot in the head in the hallway of a residential building in the city’s North End.

“I thought it was a lie. I didn’t think it was real,” said Williams.

What was real was Huff’s love for basketball. Close friends said he spent several nights at the YMCA basketball court playing his favorite sport.

“He loved the community, he loved the Y and the Y loved him,” said Carl Hardrick, a crisis intervention specialist.

The tournament brought people of all ages and backgrounds together. Even Mayor Luke Bronin made an appearance and he said he knew Huff quite well. The day he found out about his tragic death, he said he knew the violence needed to stop.

“We’re not going to stand for violence – that our young men want to shoot hoops, not guns and to bring the community together in support of them, in support of what they want to accomplish and to show them that we care about their future,” said Mayor Bronin.

Shirts were worn with Huff’s picture on it; it was just another way for the community activists to remind everyone of his story, a young man whose life was taken too soon.

“We always want to know the reason why it happened so it doesn’t happen again and when we engage with young people out here, we want them to know we care about them and they’re our future,” added Hardrick.

“It’s for Keon and we’re balling out for him because he loved basketball. Basketball was his favorite sport,” said Jah Shaw of Hartford.

Tywone Edwards Jr., 17, of Hartford was charged with murder after he shot and killed Huff. Huff’s death was the city’s eighth homicide victim of the year.