Deshanne Lowe was scared and nervous. She was pregnant and not sure what to do about the baby. It was a major problem, an unexpected one for this college student from Cambria Heights. Therefore, naturally, she went to Tyshawn Bierria, who Lowe called a “problem solver.”
“He said everything happens for a reason,” she recalled fondly.
Lowe decided to keep the baby, in part because Bierria, who she warmly called her best friend, encouraged her to do so. Bierria was supposed to be the child’s godfather. Only, on the night of April 26, he was fatally attacked and died at the age of 22 five days later, two weeks before he graduated with an individual studies degree from SUNY New Delhi when he tried to diffuse a problem outside his dorm. Lowe, one of hundreds on hand for the Tyshawn Bierria Memorial Basketball Classic at Hoffman Park in Rego Park, where numerous teams competed in four different age groups, aptly named her son Pharrell Tyshawn Anthony Lowe.
Her story was just one of many similar tales that were shared during the two-day tournament, organized by the TK All-Stars, a LeFrak City-based AAU program, and Bierria’s first team. In fact, he played in his first tournament at the very park, in the shadows of St. John’s Hospital and the Queens Center Mall, led the TK All-Stars to the championship and took home MVP honors before going on to star at Newtown and play two seasons at SUNY New Delhi.
“This is my way of keeping Tyshawn’s memory alive,” said Antonio Cannon, the co-founder of the TK All-Stars.
But basketball isn’t why over 6,000 people attended his wake, waiting hours to pay their respects. He was loved in the community, as much for his jumpshot as his even-keeled temperament.
“He was his own person; he stood out from the crowd,” Lowe said. “He would just make you laugh on a bad day, the way he would talk. It was always positive.”
Added New Delhi assistant coach Louis Reyes: “He was a beautiful person inside and out. He never let anything bother him. He was just a pleasure to be around.”
Many called it a bittersweet weekend. It made Reyes realize how special his former player was, that so many people wanted to make the trek to be a part of the tournament, from SUNY New Delhi and the metropolitan area.
“He touched a lot of people’s lives,” Reyes said.
The tournament in itself was impressive too, with high-powered programs such as the Gauchos, New Heights and New York Panthers participating. If Bierria was around, his mother, Sharon Bierria said, he would be emphasizing the importance of doing well in school and what steps had to be completed to succeed. Most of all, she said, he would be smiling.
“I’m really grateful that in life Tyshawn set such a good example, and in death he’s doing the same thing,” Sharon Bierria said. “Tyshawn’s mission continues. I know Tyshawn lives, he lives in me and I’m grateful he lives in other people too.”
Said Lowe: “It shows how much he meant that people came out to support him.”