SOUTH CHICAGO — When he was 12 years old, William Rasheed Brown lost his mother, Odette, to gun violence.
At 24, Brown met the same fate, when he was shot dead a couple of blocks from his South Chicago home.
“Who does that in a lifetime — bury a child and a grandchild?” his grandmother, Debra Brown, asked Monday as she sat with family in her backyard. “You have to play the hand that’s dealt you.”
William Brown was riding his bicycle in the 8500 block of South Saginaw Avenue about 11 p.m. Saturday when someone fired several rounds, police said. Brown was hit in his head and pronounced dead at Stroger Hospital at 11:34 p.m.
Relatives believe Brown, who had documented gang ties, was killed by a rival gang member.
“He knew right from wrong,” Debra Brown said. “The choices that he made — the recklessness that he involved himself in — it cost him his life, and my heart is broke.”
Debra “Pappie” Brown, who raised William Brown and his six younger siblings after her daughter was killed, said her grandson loved basketball and music. He was known as “mannerable” to older neighbors and dabbled as a rapper.
She thought William Brown could’ve pursued a basketball scholarship if he kept playing, but said he “lost that sparkle” after his mom died.
“He never got over the loss of his mother. I think that was one of the biggest issues for him,” Debra Brown said. “He was trying to deal with his loss in his own way, and I think that’s what pushed him toward a lot of the things that he did.”
Her grandson wasn’t comfortable with counseling, and instead sought marijuana and “foolishness” to cope, she said.
Between 2006 and 2009, William Brown was charged with battery, theft, domestic battery, gang loitering and criminal trespass to a vehicle. All charges eventually were dropped.
Brown pleaded guilty to marijuana possession in 2008 and received probation. In 2010, he pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery and served time in an Illinois Department of Corrections boot camp.
Still, William Brown lived with his family and was encouraging to his younger siblings — three of whom are in college. He said he regretted a lot of his choices, but found it increasingly hard to find a job once he had a criminal record.
“He wanted so much more out of life, but he just didn’t know how to get it,” Debra Brown said.
William Brown’s longtime girlfriend, Shakira, is pregnant with the couple’s first child. She’s due in the fall.
“She’s a wreck,” Debra Brown said. “I’m praying that she doesn’t miscarry with the stress of this loss."
William Brown "was good and precious to me. He was my grandson,” she said. “Was he that to the world? Maybe not. But he was loved by his entire family. He’s going to be missed.”
Reporter Erin Meyer contributed.