LaNiyah Murphy’s fight against gun violence was deeply personal. She was shot in the head in 2018 but managed to make a full recovery.
She used that terrifying experience to speak out against Chicago’s gun violence the following year in Washington, D.C., on behalf of St. Sabina’s BRAVE youth leaders program, where she was a mentor.
Tuesday evening, Murphy was sitting in a car in the 12200 block of South Wallace Street when someone fired shots and fatally struck the 20-year-old, Chicago police said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
“This hurts for a lot of people,” said Lamar Johnson, violence prevention coordinator at BRAVE. “She was very vocal, she was the life of the room, she had a wonderful personality.”
Murphy joined BRAVE while in high school. After graduating in 2020 as the salutatorian of her class, she decided to remain with the group as a mentor because she loved the cause so much, Johnson said.
“She was one of your main leaders and speakers, and ambassadors for our program,” Johnson said. “She was very smart, educated.”
Murphy was majoring in sociology at Governors State University and continued to be outspoken against gun violence. She gave a speech at Purdue University on school shootings, Johnson said.
Murphy was “beyond her years” and was very socially conscious, Johnson said, and she loved to be around her friends and peers.
“She loved to be around people, loved joking around and playing. She loved to dance,” he added. “She was a fun and enjoyable person. She was the life of the room.
“The world will miss out on what influence she will have, “Johnson said.
Johnson said Murphy’s murder “is a testament to where our city is right now,” noting that Chicago has endured two straight years of rising gun violence. “A lot of youth and people who are not targets and are not involved in anything like that are victims.”
St. Sabina, BRAVE and Murphy’s family will honor her life and others who have fallen victim to gun violence with a balloon release outside St. Sabina’s Friday afternoon.
“There are many LaNiyah’s in Chicago,” Johnson said. “In the past and in the present, a lot of youth that have bright futures, great personalities that can contribute to societies and their lives have been taken short.”