Suburban Visitor to Bronzeville Fatally Shot

By Emily Morris on January 7, 2013 11:49pm 

CHICAGO — Samuel Clay earned the nickname “The Big Cheese” because of his hearty appetite and a smile that rarely left his face, according to his mother, Thelma Smith.

The 25-year-old also enjoyed making other people smile and did what he could to help his family, whether it was taking out the trash or caring for his younger sister’s children, according to his sister, Carmela Clay.

“He was a real sweet boy. He wasn’t into no gangs, he wasn’t into violence,” his sister said.

It was when he was taking out the trash for a cousin that he was gunned down, Smith said. Samuel Clay, who lived in Joliet with his mother and sister, was visiting a cousin in the Bronzeville neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side in April when someone came out of an alley and shot him, Smith said.

He was killed in the 600 block of East 45th Street on April 16, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.

“I don’t think it was meant for him. I know it wasn’t meant for him,” Smith said. “He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Her son had previously been arrested for “small things,” such as carrying a taser or trespassing, Smith said. But he didn’t belong to a gang and was more interested in helping others than getting into trouble, she said. 

“He would give you the shirt off his back,” Smith said.

Samuel Clay would put on small rap shows for his family, Carmela Clay said, and he loved going to church every Sunday. He also went to school part-time at the City Center Campus of Joliet Junior College and hoped to eventually attend the main campus in Joliet someday, his sister said.

No arrests were made in the slaying.

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