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the maximum: 25 years.

You took away something that wasn’t yours to take,” the mother, Tephanie Holston, said to the man convicted of killing her daughter. “You robbed the world. You robbed the family. And you didn’t have the right to do that.”

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From HoopGurlz: Girls’ Basketball Stories of the Year

Both tragedy and triumph resonated through the girls’ basketball world in 2011. Here are 10 stories we’ll remember well beyond the New Year.

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From John Leland t the New York Times: Playing With Dedication

PART of sport’s allure is that it shreds the rules that limit the rest of life. Athletes’ bodies defy the odds, and others live vicariously through their victories. At a school like Murry Bergtraum, where only 60 percent of students graduate in four years and nearly three-quarters qualify for free or subsidized lunches, athletes’ triumphs are a promise of possibility. When one athlete falls, a whole world can come crashing down.

Tayshana Murphy, one of five children raised by a single mother and an actively involved father, lived her life tweaking the odds, according to people who knew her. Her father, Taylonn Murphy, 42, remembered accompanying her to tournaments as far away as New Orleans and Orlando, and taking her to the hospital to treat her chronic asthma attacks. “She’d lay it all out on the court, then we’d be in the hospital for three days, sometimes in the I.C.U.,” he said. “That’s the part people don’t know.”

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The Murder of Tayshana Murphy Sometimes poetic justice is not justice at all

Taylonn attends the game, dressed in all black. His shirt is a picture of a dribbling Tayshana with the words “Ball in Peace.” Kimani Young, Sharette’s widower and the memorial’s organizer, summons Taylonn to midcourt at halftime.

“Chicken would have been playing today with her peers and her friends, but unfortunately she’s not here today,” Young begins. The tears well in Taylonn’s eyes before Young ends, and he walks off the court with a framed jersey in one hand, while embracing Young with the other.

Shannon Bobbitt watches from the second row in the corner of the stands with her father. She wanted to pay her respects to Chicken’s family and offer her condolences. She will soon depart to play in Turkey and continue her basketball journey.

This is the gift and curse of the projects. They can lift you up or snuff you out. Chicken could have been another Shannon, who returned one day to give back, run clinics, sign autographs, and be a role model. Shannon could have been Chicken just as easily.

“She had a lot to live for,” Grezinsky says. “That’s what the real tragedy is. She could have given back to the community like Shannon Bobbitt. She comes back every year and puts on a clinic during the All-Star break, and I asked her, ‘Are you getting paid for this?’ And she said, ‘No, I want to give back to the community.’ Tayshana was the same type of kid. She had a community sense about her. She was somebody who could have given back and been someone for other kids to look up to.”

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Too damn young

Heralded Girls Basketball Star Is Shot to Death in Manhattan

Tayshana Murphy, 18, was on the basketball team at Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers in Manhattan, where she had just begun her senior year. She was ranked on an ESPN Web site as the nation’s 16th-best point guard in her class.

From Glen at Hoopgurlz: NYC grieves loss of Tayshana Murphy

After Hurricane Irene pounded New York City two weeks ago, Ed Grezinsky, the longtime coach of Murry Bergtraum High School’s powerhouse girls’ basketball program, received a text from a somewhat unexpected source.

It was from Tayshana Murphy, someone who had yet to play a game for him, but to whom Grezinsky felt as close as others who’d played four years at Bergtraum. She wanted to know how he’d weathered the storm.

Hardened by 21 highly successful years of molding inner-city kids into champions, Grezinsky sometimes can be described as gruff and distant. But Murphy had broken through. She’d melted his heart.

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