UConn women's hoops honors teen killed by stray bullet

AP

Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma, center, and his team reacts in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against South Florida, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, in Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A 13-year-old New York girl killed by a stray bullet while riding home from basketball practice has been made an honorary member of the UConn women's basketball team.

UConn Coach Geno Auriemma said he decided to make the gesture after hearing the story of Mount Vernon, New York, eighth-grader Shamoya McKenzie, who died on New Year's Eve.

McKenzie's mother has said her daughter had a poster of the current UConn team in her bedroom, and dreamed of playing for the Huskies.

Auriemma said after reading about her life, he sent McKenzie's family a team jersey with her number, 30, along with a letter that read, "Once a Husky, Always a Husky."

"I don't know that it makes anything any better," Auriemma said Tuesday night after his Huskies won their 90th consecutive game. "But, it was just our way of saying, 'You didn't get a chance to be here, but your kind of are.'"

McKenzie, who was 6-foot-2, was already playing for Mount Vernon's junior varsity high school team. She was described by Mount Vernon school officials and coaches as excellent student, athlete and role model.

"It got a lot of notice because she is a basketball player," Auriemma said. "All over America this stuff unfortunately happens to too many kids her age."

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