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Hundreds mourn Endia Martin; Bulls’ Rose pays respects before service

The casket carrying body EndiMartleaves St. Andrew Temple Baptist Church following funeral services for 14-year-old EdinMartMonday May 5 2014. |

The casket carrying the body of Endia Martin leaves St. Andrew Temple Baptist Church following funeral services for 14-year-old Edina Martin, Monday May 5, 2014. | Jessica Koscielniak / Sun-Times

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Updated: June 7, 2014 6:15AM



A nonsensical tragedy — a 14-year-old girl shot to death, allegedly by another 14-year-old girl in what police are calling a Facebook feud over a boy — drew hundreds of mourners, including the Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose, to the funeral of Endia Martin on Monday.

St. Andrews Temple, in the South Side’s Englewood neighborhood, was packed. About 1,000 people filled the Baptist church at 1743 W. Marquette to say goodbye to a child described as fearless and confident, with dreams belying her age.

“This was a person who walked around unafraid. She didn’t feel she had enemies,” the Rev. Larry Martin said in his eulogy. “I’ve asked 17-year-olds out here what they want to do with their lives and have been told, ‘I just wanna get to 18 years old.’ That was not Endia. She dreamed of a future way beyond that.”

The Tilden High School freshman wanted to be a nurse like her mother; she loved to dance, and dreamed of seeing the world — perhaps through the military, like her stepfather.

Those dreams ended when Endia was killed April 28 — shot, police say, by a girl whose uncle gave her a gun. The accused killer is in custody, charged as a juvenile.

The uncle, along with two other adults and another teen, are also charged in Endia’s murder.

Before the funeral, there was an hourlong wake for the slight girl, who was buried in a creamy white casket, clothed in a lavender gown and wearing a crystal tiara.

As mourners filed past the casket with tears and embraces, a familiar face slipped into the church. It was Rose, who grew up in Englewood, and is known to speak often to teens about ending the violence. He parked his Rolls-Royce behind the white limousines and the hearse that would carry Endia to Mount Hope Cemetery.

Inside, it took a moment for mourners to realize it was the 6-foot-3 Bulls point guard, and a buzz quickly swept through the pews. Visibly moved, Rose paid his respects to the family and quickly left.

Endia’s mother, Jonie Dukes-Kennedy, sat weeping in a front pew, held by Endia’s stepfather, Kent Kennedy.

During the 2½-hour funeral, the preacher paid tribute to the hard work that Endia’s parents — her mother, a certified nursing assistant at a nursing home; her stepfather, who raised Endia from age 6 and is employed at Central Steel and Wire — put into trying to protect their children. They’d recently transferred Endia from Chicago Vocational High because they worried the long commute by bus and train wasn’t safe.

Family and friends spoke of Endia’s smile and bubbly personality.

“She gave 100 percent to both her friends and family,” a relative, Krystle Jacox, said, reading Endia’s obituary at the service. “She was confident, bubbly, outgoing and shameless. She was a beautiful young lady who kept her head held high. Endia may have lived a short time, but she has left us with tons of memories that we can always treasure.”

The standing-room-only sanctuary was filled with purple, Endia’s favorite color, worn by family and friends; around them, a sea of white T-shirts and sweatshirts emblazoned with the girl’s smiling face, under “R.I.P.”

Teens from Tilden; from her former elementary school, Dewey; and from her neighborhood, lined every wall. Speaker after speaker, from preachers to Chicago Public Schools personnel, urged them to put the guns down.

Endia and the girl accused in her murder both graduated last year from Dewey.

The alleged shooter’s uncle, Donnell Flora, 25, is being held on $3 million bond; he is accused of bringing the .38-caliber revolver to the girl. The girl’s aunt, Vandetta Redwood, 32, is charged with being at the scene of the shooting, failing to take any action to stop it, then denying she was there.

Also charged: a 17-year-old boy, accused of hiding the murder weapon afterward; and the gun’s former owner, Robert James, 34, accused of falsely reporting the gun stolen, then selling it illegally.

Several pages in the funeral program show a smiling Endia — photo after photo, as a baby, in elementary school, clowning with friends, dressing up or hanging out with her family.

“You are in our hearts, and your charisma, smile and caring ways has left a lifetime impact on all that have come across your path. Your smile will inspire us as we tell about your life,” wrote her father, Monroe Martin.

Wrote her four siblings: “As we go down memory lane, it’s hard to believe that you’re gone, Your heart was filled with so much sweetness, and your smile could brighten up a room. It’s hard to keep our heads up. Hard to make our beds up, and even sometimes hard to get up knowing that you’re gone.”

And when the church emptied to allow the family a final goodbye at the casket, only the wails of some of those siblings rivaled that of Endia’s mother.

Contributing: Jessica Koscielniak

Email: mihejirika@suntimes.com

Twitter: @Maudlynei



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