By Marina Lopes
Special to DNAinfo
ASTORIA, QUEENS — Tayshana “Chicken” Murphy had friends in all five boroughs and from Queensbridge to West Harlem, hundreds of people made the journey to the high school basketball star’s funeral in Astoria Saturday for a last goodbye.
Murphy, 18, was shot dead in the hallway of her building in the Grant Houses in Harlem at 4 a.m. on Sept. 11 as she begged for her life.
The death sparked an outpouring of grief and a call to end the violence that has plagued the housing project and the nearby Manhattanville Houses.
“A part of everybody died today,” said Rachel Thomas, 22, who lives in the Grant Houses. “That was everybody’s little sister, everybody’s daughter, everybody’s child.”
Police believe the shooting may have stemmed from a feud between Grant and Manhattanville, possibly involving her brother, but but relatives have said that Murphy and her sibling were not involved.
“She was good person,” said Thomas. “She was killed in a way that did not reflect her life.”
The hour-and-a-half ceremony at Thomas M. Quinn & Sons Funeral home included a final viewing for friends and family.
“The ball bounces forever for Chicken to live on,” said Kassim Alston, Murphy’s coach and mentor, according to a friend. Murphy was such as stellar point guard that she was ranked nationally by ESPN and dreamed of playing in the WNBA.
The funeral home was so packed that Murphy’s mother, Tephanie Holston, had to turn away many of Murphy’s friends.
“I’m sorry, I have to,” she said to the crowd as she closed the front doors.
Murphy’s friends, who were turned away, grew frustrated with the situation.
“We wouldn’t mind standing up but we love her,” said Thomas. “We don’t want to say goodbye watching her out here when they are bringing her outside. We want to do it the respectful way.”
Murphy’s murder has led many to call for increased gun control.
“The government needs to stop allowing those guns from getting here,” said Jeanelle Williams, 48, of the Queensbridge Houses, who knew Murphy when she was young. “They spend money on everything else, they need to spend money on this.”
Joanne Joynner, 56, who also knew Murphy from when she lived in Queensbridge, advocated for outreach programs with local prisons to reduce the risk of re-incarceration.
“Those kids get arrested, they come out and they can’t get a job,” she said. “They are sitting around and they need something to do.”
Police are searching for Robert Cartagena, 20, and Tyshawn Brockington, 21, who allegedly shot Murphy three times in the chest, hip and leg while she tried to outrun them.
“All she wanted to do was play basketball and get her family out of the projects,” said Chantel Phinaz, 19, a friend of Murphy’s from Harlem.
“We are going to miss her."