Medina native killed in homicide in North Carolina

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 December 2019 at 12:18 pm

LaQuita Amos, Class of 1998, remembered as ultimate team player for Medina girls basketball team

LaQuita Amos

LaQuita Amos, a Medina graduate and former varsity basketball player for the Mustangs, was killed last Thursday from a gunshot in Greensboro, NC.

Amos, 39, was killed and two others were wounded in a shooting at about 7:30 p.m. at a residence.

She graduated from Medina High School in 1998 and went to Howard University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in business administration. She continued her education at Forsyth Technical College and received a project management technology degree. Amos was employed at Lincoln Financial for several years.

‘LaQuita represented all the best qualities we could ask for in a student, an athlete and a person.’

Eric Hellwig was a teacher and coach for Amos, who graduated in 1998. He wrote the following tribute about Amos:

“Late last week the Medina community suffered another loss of a former student. Most of her former teachers have retired in the two decades since LaQuita Amos, a 1998 graduate, received her diploma.

Current students likely wouldn’t have known her because, after graduation, her connection to the area faded, as so many do. People come and go: from the area, from the school, and from our lives. And, with LaQuita, that is a shame, because she represented all the best qualities we could ask for in a student, an athlete and a person.

LaQuita was a very bright young lady who enjoyed learning and got the most out of her schooling. She could be found at the high school all hours of the day, and even on weekends, as a part of the Upward Bound program. Upward Bound was, and still is, a program aimed at students from lower-income families who would go on to be the first in their household to attend college.

Photo courtesy of Eric Hellwig: In this 1997 team photo of the Medina girls varsity basketball team, LaQuita Amos is in the 2nd row, 3rd player in from the right, #34.

LaQuita relished working with Mrs. Isabella Mark, the Upward Bound counselor at the time, and made the most of her experience. Each summer during high school, LaQuita would join with others in the program to experience college life, living on The College at Brockport campus for a few weeks and taking courses that would help them become more independent and adjust to life after high school.

Through that program, LaQuita gained the self confidence that would be the foundation for her future success, and ultimately resulted in her being accepted to Howard University, in Washington, DC, one of the most prestigious historically black colleges in the country, where she would earn her undergraduate degree.

LaQuita loved Upward Bound, just as she loved and appreciated all aspects of life.  There was never a time you wouldn’t find LaQuita with a big smile on her face, even when she was trying to fake an injury to get out of running sprints in basketball practice!  It is that great big smile that those who knew Laquita will remember about her most. She had a cheerful, positive personality and was the type of person you always wanted to be around.

LaQuita loved sports, basketball in particular. She was never the best player on the team, but she was always one of the most invaluable. Laquita understood and accepted her role with eagerness. She was a top rebounder, would battle on defense in the post, and scrap for loose balls.

‘She would do the hard, unglamorous work so that other teammates could also be successful.’

She was the type of player whose name wouldn’t necessarily stand out in the box score, but if you asked any coach, she was exactly the type of person you need to have to be successful. She would do the hard, unglamorous work so that other teammates could also be successful.

That’s why, when LaQuita had the one moment every basketball player dreams of – the chance to be the hero – everyone on the team was so happy for her. She had committed herself to helping other, and being genuinely happy for their success, and now, here she was, in that starring role.

We had a very successful girls basketball team both LaQuita’s junior and senior years, winning league championships and advancing to the sectional title game each year.

However, her senior year, it was a very near thing. We faced a very strong quarterfinal opponent in Fredonia, a team that featured a future Olympic gold medal winner and a future Division I basketball player. We knew it would be a tough game, and were maybe a little bit intimidated, even though we were the higher seed and were playing a home game.

Whatever the reason, we started the game flat and faced a really big deficit by the start of the fourth quarter. Down 17 points with 3:30 left to play, after taking a timeout to regroup and sending the players back onto the court, I turned to one of my assistants at the time and said, “Well, it looks like it’s over, but we’ve had a really good run.”

And that’s when LaQuita and her teammates gave me the lesson of my lifetime:  IT’S NEVER OVER! A couple of big three-point shots, a couple of steals and quick lay-ups, and a couple of forced turnovers had cut Fredonia’s lead to single digits. With just three seconds to go, Helen King, who had a 22-point fourth quarter, hit a “3” to cut Fredonia’s lead to two points, 62-60. A win was still improbable. All Fredonia needed to do was inbound the ball and that would be the game, and the end of our playoff dominance. But…

Sometimes things don’t go as expected. Sometimes you need to keep your focus. ALL the time, you need to not give up. LaQuita didn’t give up. She quickly found the opponent she was guarding, out near half court.

As the inbound pass came toward her opponent, LaQuita stepped in front, stole the ball, took one dribble passed half court, and heaved a shot toward the basket as time expired and the buzzer sounded. The shot missed.

But… again, things don’t always go as expected. As she released the ball, LaQuita was fouled and awarded three free throws, with no time on the clock. Down 62-60, Laquita had a chance to be the hero and extend our season at least one more game.

I remember thinking at the time, and maybe even saying, “Please, just make two so we can get to overtime!” LaQuita was a decent free throw shooter, but imagine the pressure – being on the court all by yourself, with all eyes in a packed gym on you, both sets of fans screaming.

Fortunately, LaQuita was a lot calmer than I was. She stepped to the line, took the ball from the official, went through her pre-shot routine, and calmly sank the first, and the crowd went wild. Second shot, same routine, same result, same crowd reaction. We are now guaranteed at least four more minutes of overtime basketball, and LaQuita has the chance to do what most players only dream of. And once again, she gets the ball, goes through her routine, and calmly sank the shot to win the game.

The crowd erupted, fans and players ran onto the court and gave LaQuita a proper hero’s congratulation. It was a moment all involved will never forget, and I’m sure LaQuita never forgot it, either. After the game, I asked her what was going through her mind as she went to the line, and she said something to the effect of “I just remember all those sprints we ran for missing free throws in practice, and I wasn’t missing those shots.” It was a moment all players and coaches wish they could freeze in time and share with all their teammates, past and present. Sadly, we can’t.

‘LaQuita did not relish the spotlight. She thrived on being a part of something bigger, a part of a team. And the last memory we will always have of LaQuita was her genuine, unabashed, and unconditional love for her teammates.’

After college she graduated from college, I lost touch with Laquita. Her family moved to Greenville, North Carolina, and LaQuita followed in order to be close to them. I don’t know many things about the time in between then and now, but I imagine LaQuita touching the lives of everyone she came in contact with, just as she had touched ours.  Horribly, last week, LaQuita was the victim of a domestic violence dispute, and was killed at the age of 39, which I do know is all too young.

There are many things I’m sure I do not know about LaQuita Amos, but there are other things frozen in my mind and, I’m sure the minds of everyone who knew her. First was that beautiful smile she always displayed. And I do mean ALWAYS. There was no happier person in the school, regardless of circumstances.

Second was her humility. LaQuita did not relish the spotlight. She thrived on being a part of something bigger, a part of a team. And the last memory we will always have of Laquita was her genuine, unabashed, and unconditional love for her teammates. If someone experienced success, LaQuita was just as happy for them as she was for her own success. And most importantly, I know this about LaQuita: Her team loved her back.”

Eric Hellwig

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