As a young child, Kierra Moore was so drawn to basketball that she insisted on playing with the older kids.
“She’d come to her older brother’s practice and say, ‘I want to play.’ And I’d say you’re not old enough,” said Arlena Wade, who coached the brother and would go on to coach Moore at Michele Clark Academic Prep Magnet High School.
“I’m playing! I’m playing!” Moore would say, according to Wade. “She did that until she was old enough to play.”
Born and raised in Cabrini-Green, Moore showed incredible promise. “She was destined to go to the WNBA,” her older brother Jaden Knox said Friday.
The 16-year-old was shot and killed Thursday night while standing with a group of people in Lawndale, according to police, who said the gunfire came from gunmen in a black car around 11:30 p.m. in the 3100 block of West Polk Street.
Moore was hit several times and died at Mount Sinai Hospital. Police have reported no arrests.
Family insisted that Moore was not with a group of people when she was killed. Moore was with her twin sister in a rideshare car that was blocked by another vehicle, Knox said. Three gunmen got out of the car and fired shots as Moore ran away, striking her 18 times, he said.
Her brother remembered Moore Friday as “a fun-loving, joking person” who was inseparable from her twin sister.
“She loved her twin more than anything,” Knox said. “They did everything together. Never once were they separated, unless she was with me.”
After Cabrini-Green was torn down, Moore’s family moved to rowhouses nearby where she’d play one-on-one games with her brother at the courts.
“She could do things I couldn’t — right- and left-handed,” Knox said. “She was my right-hand man. We would play video games together, basketball games. I taught her the ways of the game.”
Between trips with her brother downtown for gym shoes, she’d talk about basketball, her team at Clark and her schooling. “She loved Michele Clark. She was always like, ‘I want to go to school, I can’t wait to play basketball,’” her brother said.
“She always told me she wanted to take her team to at least one championship. This year was supposed to be the year she’d take her team to the championship,” he said. “I told her, you already know I’m coming to every single last one of your games.”
Wade, the head coach at Clark, called Moore “the life of the team ... a great player” who averaged about 15 points a game.
A captain of her high school team, Moore was a jokester but was also intense about playing — whether it was over a bad call or what jersey number she wore. A teammate still remembers when a ref called a foul on Kierra. “She got mad and fussy with the ref,” Tajiuna Cooper said. “She always got her way.”
Moore’s energy motivated the team and bound them together, Cooper said. “She wasn’t just a teammate, but family.”
While Moore had a hard exterior, she was “soft on the inside,” agreed Assistant Coach Sayisha Pendleton.
“No matter how tough she seemed, she was a gentle giant,” Pendleton said. “She couldn’t live without her team, and they couldn’t live without her. She was a big piece of the basketball team.”
Moore’s brother said he will always remember his sister’s “smile of gold.”
“When the team was down, she brought them up,” Knox said. “Everybody loved her.”