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Hoops Star Who Endured Gunshot Wound Fights to Play for High School

By James Fanelli | December 25, 2015 1:12pm
 Jahlil Tripp has gone to court so he can play for his high school basketball team as a fifth-year senior.
Jahlil Tripp has gone to court so he can play for his high school basketball team as a fifth-year senior.
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CONEY ISLAND — A Brooklyn high school basketball star who bounced back from a gunshot wound and a broken bone that sidelined him for nearly his entire junior season is now battling bureaucracy for the right to suit up as a fifth-year senior.

Jahlil Tripp, a 6-foot-5 forward at Abraham Lincoln High School, was ruled ineligible to play this season by the Public Schools Athletic League, the governing body for city high school sports, in November. The PSAL determined that he could not play for a fifth year to make up for his lost season.

Tripp had expected to hit the hardwood for his Coney Island high school team this year to make a serious run at the PSAL championship, but so far he’s been barred and has missed seven games.

His family filed an appeal earlier this month in Brooklyn Supreme Court, calling the PSAL ruling bogus and asking a judge to overturn the decision.

“Jahlil is considered one of the top schoolboy basketball athletes in the PSAL and has an opportunity to gain an athletic scholarship to play at the [NCAA] Division 1 level,” the Tripps’ lawyer, John M. Rodriguez, said in Dec. 15 petition.

“Each game Jahlil remains ineligible, he is irreparably harmed as potential college scholarships offers are based largely on the body of work Jahlil completes this year. His failure to play to date has already put him at a disadvantage. His scholastic and financial future is at stake.”


Tripp had just started his junior season at Brooklyn Collegiate High School when he was the unintended target of a shooting on Dec. 4, 2013, outside the school after a girls basketball game. Tripp was hit in the calf and missed a month of basketball because of the injury.

When he rejoined his team on Jan. 4, 2014, he broke his tibia during a warm-up drill before a game. The injury required surgery, left him bedridden and forced him to forfeit the rest of the season, the court papers say.

“Jahlil withdrew from family and friends as he flirted with deep depression,” Rodriguez said in the filing. “One can only imagine the detrimental effect the shooting and following injury had on Jahlil’s athletic and scholastic life, and concurrent level of depression he must have been feeling.”

Tripp transferred to Abraham Lincoln for the 2014-2015 school year, where he regained his form, averaging 17 points and 11 rebounds per game during the season.

In the petition, Tripp’s mother, Latonia, said they believed that her son was redoing his junior season — not using up his fourth and final year of eligibility. The family believed he would be eligible to play high school basketball during the 2015-2016 school year as well, according to the petition.

While Tripp completed all his minimal class requirements to graduate by the end of 2014-2015, he returned to Abraham Lincoln this fall because he hadn’t passed two Regents exams and was taking coursework to prepare for them, the petition says.

Latonia said in the petition that the PSAL ruling is hurting her son’s chances at playing hoops for a top-tier university.

“We contend Jahlil’s failure to play has harmed his reputation in the highly competitive recruitment process,” Latonia said.

“Interested schools such as Rutgers University and Siena College, elite Division 1 programs, need sufficient basis upon which to determine how to allocate limited scholarships to student-athletes.”

A judge is expected to hear the case on Jan. 6.  

PSAL did not respond to request for comment.

The Tripps and their lawyer also did not respond to a request for comment.