The Black woman killed in Alabama over the weekend in a shooting linked to a college basketball player is being remembered as a loving mother who doted on her young son and prioritized her family.
Jamea Jonae Harris, 23, died after two men, including the now-former University of Alabama men’s basketball team player Darius Miles, allegedly shot her for refusing their advances early Sunday morning in Tuscaloosa.
Harris’ family spoke with local media and made it clear that her 5-year-old son meant everything to her.
“She was a beautiful young woman who loved her family and most of all her 5-year-old son Kaine,’’ DeCarla Cotton told AL.com. “She was just trying to enjoy her weekend with her cousin that attends the University of Alabama and her boyfriend.”
AL.com also pointed to a Facebook post from Cotton that seemed to suggest that the shooting had to do with rebuffed advances: “Took my baby’s life because she wouldn’t talk to him.”
It wasn’t clear if she was referring to Miles, 21, or Michael Lynn Davis, 20, both of whom have been charged with capital murder for the shooting. Cotton’s Facebook post showed photos of both suspects.
Harris’ cousin, Kennedi Henderson, described Harris as a uniting factor in the family.
“She was a humble soul, and she was always a happy soul. We literally grew up together,” Henderson told AL.com. “She kept the cousins together and pushed us to be the best us. She was the best little cousin I can ask for, honestly.”
Henderson added: “The family and I are just in disbelief that something like this has happened to her. We just ask for prayers at this time.”
Harris’ aunt, Tracey Smith, emphasized how much of a loss this would be for Harris’ son.
“My niece was a smart and beautiful young lady. Whom had a bright future ahead of her and is loved by so many,” Smith told ABC 33/40. “She leaves behind one son Kaine, the love and bond between the two was unimaginable. Her son was her world.”
The shooting took place close to the campus of the University of Alabama, where Darius Miles — one of the two suspects — played on the men’s basketball team. As of Tuesday morning, Miles’ name had been removed from the team roster on the university’s athletics website.
CNN reported that Harris’ mother said her daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend drove from Birmingham to Tuscaloosa to visit Harris’ cousin, who attends the University of Alabama. When they went out to eat, a man tried to flirt with Harris.
“He was advancing on her and she declined his attention. He refused to go away,” Cotton told CNN. “While they were attempting to leave, one gentleman walked up to the car and started shooting.”
Harris’ boyfriend shot back and hit one of the suspects, Cotton said. The suspect later went to a local hospital, which helped connect him to the shooting, she added. Investigators have said one of the suspects was hit by the returning gunfire and sustained a non-life-threatening wound.
Miles and Davis face life in prison if convicted.