CHATHAM — Michael Walker was working on his comeback.
Walker, who won Chicago's Golden Gloves tournament, turned professional in 2004 and went undefeated for four years.
Nicknamed the "Midnight Stalker," Walker had struggled to win fights since then, but he was determined to keep fighting to provide for his four children, family said.
The 35-year-old boxer from Chatham planned to move to California to train for an upcoming match in Mississippi, friends and family said.
But on Thursday morning, Walker was shot to death as he returned home after dropping his daughter off at school.
Police found Walker shot about 8:45 a.m. in the 8200 block of South Drexel Boulevard, just a block from his home. He was rushed to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 9:31 a.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.
Days later, police were releasing very few details about the fatal shooting, saying only that Walker was found after being shot multiple times. Neighbors reported hearing as many as six shots.
But Walker's autopsy showed the 35-year-old died of a gunshot wound in his arm.
Walker's sister, Markina Brown, said she had not heard much from police, but her family was told her brother died from the wound in his arm.
It's a shooting death Brown believes could have been avoided, if only there was a trauma center closer to home.
"My brother could have been saved 'cause he's a fighter. That's what he does for a living," Brown said. "He know he got us to live for. He know he had us to protect. He had kids to look after."
After he was shot, Walker was rushed almost 14 miles away to Northwestern. Two other trauma centers were slightly closer. Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn is 8 miles away from where Walker was shot, and Stroger Hospital is almost 13 miles away.
Brown said the lack of trauma centers on the South Side is simply "not right."
"What are they trying to tell us?" she said. "That's discrimination to me, discrimination going unrecognized."
Yakira Grover, a longtime friend of Walker's, echoed the sentiment.
"Considering the crime rate in these neighborhoods and to not have a trauma center in these neighborhoods, it's basically you're asking for them to die," she said.
Sitting inside Walker's home in the 8100 block of South Ingleside Avenue, Mary Walker said her son had an infectious personality and could strike up a conversation with almost anyone.
"Not too many people didn't know my son because he was well-liked, well-loved," she said. "Everyone knew him."
The family moved to Chatham just within the last year, but most neighbors knew Walker, who liked to teach the neighborhood kids how to box, his family said. Brown said the local kids looked up to the boxing pro.
Walker, the oldest of four, had four children himself, two sons and two daughters. Walker did not begin boxing until he was a teenager, his mother said. He was always into contact sports though, playing football and wrestling at Tilden Career Community Academy, and even practicing karate briefly as a kid.
Brown said the daily violence in Chicago's neighborhoods would "shake" his brother and spurred him to get involved in the community.
Walker is one of 12 people killed in Chatham so far this year, according to DNAinfo Chicago data, making it one of the more dangerous neighborhoods in the city.
But family said they do not want Walker to be remembered as another statistic, as "just numbers."
"It's immoral to me," Brown said. "This is somebody's child. This is somebody's father. This is somebody's brother. This is somebody's cousin. ... It's about dignity."
And now, Brown and Mary Walker said they are waiting for answers from police about who killed their loved one and, more importantly, why.
Brown said whoever did it stole the cornerstone of their family.
"We lost our big brother," she said. "He was our protector, our star, our champ, our motivation. That's who inspired us."