By Natasha Brown, Justin Udo
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — At 18 years old, Akyra Murray was the youngest of the 49 people killed in the Pulse Nightclub shooting massacre six months ago.
And she was the “heart and soul” of West Catholic High’s girls’ basketball team.
The young player’s jersey was officially retired at their Tuesday night game. Akyra’s visible absence made the event deeply personal.
“It felt really good. I was happy to finally play my first varsity game in honor of Akyra,” said one player. “Her presence was here, I know she’ll be proud of this game. I miss her dearly. We put it all on the floor, we left everything out here.”
Akyra’s family watched the game from the stands.
“We’re honored that they’re keeping my daughter’s name alive,” said Natalie Murray. “They’re not letting her go unnoticed.”
At halftime the team presented Akyra’s #20 jersey to her parents. The young player was one of only a few 1,000-point scorers in the school’s history.
“She meant a whole lot to the school and to the community,” said Natalie. “I’m glad that they’re honoring her today.”
Every tear — Every basket — every point on the scoreboard — is meant to keep Akyra’s legacy alive.
“I love it. I love everything that they’re doing, the little warm up shirts… they’re letting us know that she’s never going to be forgotten,” said Akyra’s brother, Alex.
“She’d probably be smiling down saying ‘hey listen, I did it. I’m doing it for you guys.’ Her main mission was to make us proud and I guess she succeeded in that,” said Natalie.
In the end Akyra’s team was victorious, winning 67-8.