BACK OF THE YARDS — A 33-year-old man who was shot to death last month had survived a stabbing just hours before he was killed, his family said.
Rico Lawrence — who lived in a two-flat in the 5100 block of South Winchester Avenue — was involved in an argument with his upstairs neighbors a little before midnight on Aug. 29, relatives said.
One of the neighbors allegedly "got into it" with Lawrence's girlfriend of three years. As tempers flared, the fight turned physical.
“It was a whole bunch of 'he said-she said,'" according to cousin Lisa Harris, 25, who claims Lawrence tried to break up the fight. Ultimately, she said, "they stabbed him in his back — two inches from his spine."
According to family members, Lawrence and his girlfriend spent the night at the hospital, where each received stitches for stab wounds.
Police said they could not confirm details of the stabbing.
Harris said when she left for work the next morning about 10 a.m., Lawrence was just getting back to the family home they shared. He had plans to lay low and recuperate for the day. But around 1:30 p.m., someone shot him in his head outside his house.
"He came home, and that was it," Harris said.
Police still are investigating and offered few details Sunday. Officers said Lawrence had documented gang ties, but his family said they didn't know why anyone would shoot him.
Relatives said they haven't seen the neighbors since the night of the alleged stabbing.
Lawrence "didn't have any beef with anyone," said Harris, who described her cousin as a friendly jokester with a "laid-back feel."
On Sunday morning — more than a week after Lawrence's Aug. 30 murder — a memorial still stood outside his family's Back of the Yards home. Dozens of colorful notes crowded large poster boards, blue balloons hung limply from a tree branch, and bottles of Jose Cuervo — Lawrence's favorite — lined the ground.
"Everyone in the neighborhood knew him," said Lillie Harris, a 58-year-old cousin. "He was well-liked."
Lawrence loved kids, his family said, and looked out for neighborhood children. He'd play basketball or help them with homework, and could often be seen "hounding them to get inside" once it got dark.
Lisa Harris said her cousin did "odds and ends" jobs for a living — changing oil, doing house repairs. He was popular with the ladies, she said, and earned himself the nickname "Rico Suave."
As the Bears geared up for their first game of the season on Sunday, Lillie Harris said "it hurt" not to have Lawrence around. He was an avid sports fan who would've camped out on the couch with snacks.
"He loved sports," she said. "It hurts. I know it hurts."