Buffalo Bills' Shaq Lawson to Pay for Funeral of 11-Year-Old Girl Fatally Shot in His Home State
Shaq Lawson, the defensive end for the Buffalo Bills, has offered to pay for the funeral of an 11-year-old girl who was fatally shot in his home state of South Carolina.
The 25-year-old former Clemson player revealed that upon hearing of the tragic death of Ja’Naiya Scott, he felt compelled to assist for her funeral.
“It could have been my little sister,” Lawson, who grew up 20 miles from Ja’Naiya’s hometown, told Greenville News on Wednesday.
“I’ve got a little sister around that age, and it could have been one of my family members,” he said.
Ja’Naiya was shot and killed on Sunday after someone entered her home in Anderson. She was shot more than 35 times, occurring at 1:30 a.m., according to the police. She was confirmed dead at the emergency room at AnMed Health Medical Center.
Her 18-year-old sister and her 11-year-old cousin were both wounded, the latter of which remains in critical condition.
A suspect has yet to be named in the case, of which the investigation is still ongoing.
At a vigil for Ja’Naiya on Wednesday, her uncle, Fred Rice, made the announcement that the NFL star would be paying for her upcoming funeral. Lawson reached out to Ja’Naiya’s mother, Marshella Rice, to do so, he told Greenville News.
“I know her heart was hurting,” Lawson said. “I was so speechless I couldn’t say anything. I felt for her pain. I felt the pain, too. I felt like any way I could possibly help out, I was going to do that. It hit my heart.”
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“Whoever did this needs to come forward and tell the truth,” the athlete added. “And whoever’s hiding, it’s wrong that you’re hiding. This is a little girl who is gone. It’s just pointless killing people — killing an innocent child. She was at home, a place she was supposed to be safe.”
Lawson, who was named by his parents after NBA star Shaquille O’Neal, grew up in Central. After playing football at Clemson, he was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 2016 in the first round of the draft, and 19th pick overall.
On May 1, the Bills declined a fifth-year contract for Lawson, which would have reportedly come in at $10 million, according to NFL.com. He is currently a free agent.