Morgan Park student Tyrone Lawson, 17, was fatally shot after his school took on powerhouse Simeon and top player Jabari Parker in a contentious game Wednesday night at Chicago State.
The game, won by Simeon, ended with an altercation between the teams while lining up to shake hands. The players were separated by their coaches and security and each team was held in its locker room for an extended period after the game to ensure player safety.
But tensions spilled out into the Chicago State parking lot and Lawson was shot multiple times and died at Advocate Chris Medical Center at about 9:51 p.m., according to reports. Arrests were made Wednesday night and officials are investigating the shooting, according to a Chicago State University release.
"He always smiled," Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin said Thursday of Lawson. "I just talked to him (Wednesday). He was like, 'Coach, are you ready?' I'm like, 'Yeah, we should be ready.' He said, 'All right, good luck, I'll be there.' It's unfortunate for that to happen to a 17-year-old kid trying to enjoy a high school game."
Chicago reportedly had 500 homicides in 2012, the highest number since 2008.
Simeon, ranked No. 14 in the country by ESPN, features Parker, the No. 2-ranked senior and recently committed to Duke, and Illinois recruits Jaylon Tate and Kendrick Nunn. Morgan Park includes DePaul recruit Billy Garrett Jr. and Dayton recruit Kyle Davis.
Neither Irvin nor Simeon coach Robert Smith believed the teams' intense game or postgame altercation led to the shooting. The coaches also spoke with each other on Thursday.
"It's not a game where we don't like each other," Smith said. "That's not it. We're just competitive and want to win. We're saddened about what happened after the game. We don't think the game had any effect on what happened outside. We think it's an isolated incident what happened outside. I don't want people to put the two together.
"People come to games for different reasons. Unfortunately, they do. If you leave your house with a gun, you're up to something anyway. You shouldn't have a gun at a high school basketball game. The only one who should have a gun are the police."
Irvin said, "We're trying to have a good, clean game. It's a game where a lot of emotions go into it. We don't ever want to see a kid get hurt or die. We just need to stop the violence in Chicago."
All fans were searched with a metal detector wand before entering the arena, according to a Chicago Police Department source who believed the incident did not stem from the game.
Chicago State's police and the Chicago Police were put on alert before the game about a possible incident due to interactions between students from both schools on Twitter and Facebook, according to the source.
"The Twitter, Facebook thing had everyone on edge," the source said. "I'm sure people came up with the intentions of fighting. It didn't stem from the court. We took preventive measures. There were extra police in the stadium and outside."
In a statement, Chicago State University said, "Chicago State University is deeply saddened by the tragic shooting death that followed a Chicago Public Schools (CPS) basketball game held on campus.
"CPS periodically uses the University's athletic facility to provide a neutral setting for student sporting events. This is the first such incident to occur on the campus of Chicago State University where CPS students have played many times over the last three years. Additional security is provided by the University and all external partners during high school sporting events."