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Former CPS hoops star one of five shot dead in 12 hours in Chicago

Michael Haynes

Michael Haynes

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Updated: August 29, 2012 6:06AM

Michael Haynes had finally made it.

After a stint in junior college, the former Washington High hoops star who could dribble like a point guard and rebound like a big man had finally landed a scholarship to play big-time college basketball at Iona College in New York.

He hoped this would be his shot at playing in the NBA, where he hoped to face off with Bulls star Derrick Rose, who during his days as a high school stud at Simeon High crushed Haynes’ shot at a city championship in 2006.

“That’s all over now,” Haynes’ cousin Lester Freeman said, hanging his head.

On Thursday, Haynes was shot dead in the street while trying to stop two guys from the neighborhood from a fight over a stolen necklace near 116th and Vincennes, less than a block from his home. The 22-year-old was one of five men who were shot and killed over 12 hours in Chicago. So far this year, there have been 302 murders, a 30 percent increase from 2011. In the spring, the number of murders was 66 percent higher than the previous year.

On Friday, Haynes’ family and neighborhood folks grieved the loss of the one guy — a guy everybody loved — they thought would make it big.

“In a couple more days, he would be fulfilling his dreams,” said his uncle, Martin Kimbrough, 52. “My family is devastated.”

A punch, a shot

Haynes wasn’t supposed to be in Chicago the day he died.

He planned to leave town on July 7, but “things got complicated” and he had to put it off, family members said. But all he could think about was heading east to chase his hoop dreams.

Almost every day, the 6-foot-7 forward and Freeman played pickup games at Blackwelder Park at 117th and the Metra tracks. Then, they’d drive around and pick up girls or hang out with guys from their sliver of the Morgan Park neighborhood.

Thursday was no different. Haynes and Freeman played hoops at the park and headed back home with plans to catch a movie and pick up girls later that night.

When they got back to the block at about 5 p.m., a couple guys from the neighborhood were arguing — possibly over a stolen necklace — down the block from his house. Haynes tried to break up the fight, but it didn’t go as planned. The guys were pushing and shoving each other. It was out of control. Haynes punched one of them.

Freeman saw the whole thing from down the block. It didn’t seem like a big deal.

“We’ve fought each other a million times,” Freeman said. “No one ever pulled a gun and shot anyone. We hung out with these people our whole life.”

‘I want to live’

The guy Haynes punched didn’t punch back.

Instead, he pulled out a gun and started firing. The fight ended. People scattered. Haynes took bullets in the wrist, chest and lower back.

The back of his white shirt was wet with blood.

Haynes pulled himself up and walked toward home where Freeman’s car was parked. Freeman helped Haynes get in and drove to the nearest hospital he could think of, MetroSouth Medical Center in Blue Island. Other members of Haynes’ family followed in a separate car.

“He ways saying, ‘Just get me there. I want to make it,’ ” Freeman said. “I want to hoop, bro. Get me there. I want to hoop. I want to live. I can get over this.”

Freeman got Haynes in a wheelchair and pushed him into the emergency room. Haynes was conscious, so Freeman wasn’t worried. When other cousins showed up, Freeman went home.

“I thought I was going to get a call from the hospital, ‘Bro, I’m good,’” Freeman said.

Sometime after 6:30 p.m., the phone finally rang.

Freeman listened to the voice on the line.

He couldn’t believe what heard.

“He’s dead. He’s gone.”

‘Get out of Chicago’

With bulging arms covered in tattoos, Haynes was a “strong powerful athlete around the rim who ran the floor well and defended multiple positions,” said Barret Peery, head coach at Indian Hills Community College in Iowa, where Haynes averaged about 7 points and 5 rebounds a game last season.

They called him “Big Mike.”

Haynes never made it to Iona, but his future coach misses him just the same.

“The Iona family is devastated with the news on Michael’s passing,” Iona head coach Tim Cluess said in a statement. “His passion, energy and excitement for his opportunity this year makes this tragedy even more upsetting. Our sincere condolences, thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

For Haynes, “family” included his former high school coaches.

Steve Dockery coached at Corliss High during the freshman season Haynes averaged 20 points per game.

“I was hurt. I don’t know what’s going on anymore,” Dockery said. “I know he had just signed with Iona. He talked with my son [former Duke player Sean Dockery] last week and Sean told him he should get out of Chicago as soon as he could.”

‘A big death’

On Friday, Haynes family mourned on 116th Street.

“He was an innocent victim, very loved by everybody,” Haynes’ cousin Kandice Blouin said. “He was our meal ticket. He was going to heal this hood and they took his life.”

Freeman, who saw everything, just can’t believe his best pal is gone.

“A little argument led to a big death,” he said.

When Freeman remembers the phone call announcing his best friend’s death, he thinks of the shooter.

“That’s crazy,” he said. “You killed my cousin over something he didn’t have anything to do with.”

When asked if he’d tell homicide detectives about what he saw, Freeman didn’t hesitate.


Contributing: Michael Lansu and Michael O’Brien

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