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Runners’ bright pink socks honor slain teammate De’Kayla

Johnson College Prep boys track team members wear pink socks during a track meet at St. Rita High School on May 19, 2016. The socks honor classmate De'Kayla Dansberry, who was fatally stabbed Saturday night. | Max Herman/For the Sun-Times

De’Kayla Dansberry wore tall, bright pink socks while sprinting.

So that’s what her track teammates at Johnson College Prep will be wearing in her honor when they compete in three relay events at a state track meet on Friday.

De’Kayla, 15, was fatally stabbed in a fight Saturday night in the 6400 block of South King Drive. A 13-year-old girl was charged in her murder, as was the girl’s mother, who police say provided the switchblade used to kill De’Kayla.

The Johnson Prep boys track team also wore pink socks Thursday during a track meet at St. Rita High School, 7740 S. Western Ave.

De’Kayla Dansberry | Facebook photo
De’Kayla Dansberry | Facebook photo

“Our track team is really close. We are truly a family,” said coach Latrise Muhammad, who initially wasn’t sure the forlorn girls would be up to competing in the state meet.

“We cried all day Monday at school and then had practice and the girls said, ‘Hey. We’ve got to do this,’ ” Muhammad said.

De’Kayla, a freshman honors student, joined the team late in the season. “She was the missing piece that we needed. We wouldn’t have qualified for state without her,” Muhammad said.

“There are three different girls stepping up for each race she would have been in,” Muhammad said. “We’ll go back to our original lineup before she came on board.”

Friday’s meet will be held at Eastern Illinois University in downstate Charleston, which has a blue track surface that provides an “Olympic” atmosphere, Muhammad said.

“Our chances are a little bit less [without De’Kayla], but I know the girls will be motivated to do a better job,” she said.

Marquese Simpson, 17, and Eric March, 16, wear pink socks during the track meet Thursday. | Max Herman/For the Sun-Times
Marquese Simpson, 17, and Eric March, 16, wear pink socks during the track meet Thursday. | Max Herman/For the Sun-Times
The Johnson College Prep boys track team honors teammate De’Kayla Dansberry. | Max Herman/For the Sun-Times
The Johnson College Prep boys track team honors teammate De’Kayla Dansberry. | Max Herman/For the Sun-Times