BENSONHURST — Rapper Troy Ave who is accused of fatally shooting his childhood friend in a deadly brawl at a Union Square concert last month has established a memorial scholarship in his companion's name.
On Monday, Troy Ave's family and friends announced the Ronald McPhatter award, promising to give $2,000 each year for the next five years to student athletes graduating from New Utrecht High School — where both Troy Ave and McPhatter played football and were childhood friends.
“When my son suggested [the scholarship] from jail I thought it was brilliant,” said Troy Ave’s mother, Tracey Collins, using a nickname for McPhatter, who was also known as Edgar. “Edgar would love it, it’s such a good way to represent him.”
Troy Ave, born Roland Collins, was arrested for attempted murder after he allegedly shot McPhatter in the stomach, killing him, during a shooting that broke out at a T.I. concert at Irving Plaza on May 25.
He is due back in court on June 22, when he is expected to be arraigned on his indictment. Sources told DNAinfo that investigators expect the charges to be elevated to murder. Troy Ave has denied shooting Collins.
The school's coaching staff said they chose 18-year-old Gianni Penso to receive the inaugural award because of his good grades and devotion to football.
Penso currently plays as defensive end at Utrecht and is planning to attend Pace University in the fall to play as an outside linebacker.
“When I heard about the scholarship, Gianni was the first person to pop into my head,” said Assistant Coach Wendell Fevrine.
Head coach Alan Balkan said he found similarities between Penso and McPhatter, who also played football at Utrecht in his senior year.
“Both Penso and McPhatter came to New Utrecht a little later in their careers and proved themselves as dynamite athletes and dynamite players,” Balkin said.
Penso, who accepted the award alongside his mother Andrea Whyte, thanked the Collins family and his coaches after posing with an oversized check.
“I just want to thank this family,” he said. “Football has taught me a lot, you guys taught me how to be a man, and I’m just so thankful.”
Before the ceremony, Tracey Collins said it has been devastating for her son to lose his close friend and to miss his funeral, which took place last week. She recalled McPhatter as a loyal friend and said he was like a fourth son to her.
“He exemplified teamwork and dedication,” she said. “I could have had him myself.”
McPhatter was facing assault and weapons possession charges from a November shooting that had happened outside of a Flatiron bar, and had had gotten out of jail on $100,000 bail just weeks before the shooting at Irving Plaza, where he was working as a bodyguard for Troy Ave.
Troy Ave has been charged with attempted murder and weapons possession in New York Criminal Court and a grand jury indicted him on separate charges in New York Supreme Court last week.
Troy Ave is currently being held at Rikers Island without bail, and his lawyer John Stella said he remains in a wheelchair, unable to walk, while recovering from what police described as a self-inflicted gunshot wound that passed through his right leg and lodged in his left.
A judge ordered Troy Ave held without bail at his arraignment in New York Criminal Court on May 30, a decision that Stella said is impairing his recovery.
“It’s the worst medical treatment possible at Rikers,” Stella said on Monday. “It’s taking longer than we would like but he’s hanging in there. We feel he stands a good chance at the next hearing.”