Travell Taylor was found guilty of the 2016 murder of former North Lawndale College Prep basketball standout Jonathan Mills.
Jurors reached their verdict following a three-day trial last week, finding him guilty of shooting Mills to death in front of a sandwich shop in North Lawndale.
The jury acquitted him of a second charge of attempted murder.
Cook County prosecutors played video that showed Taylor gunning down the 26-year-old Mills in court, but Mills’ mother, Flora White, said she couldn’t watch. Even after sitting through the three-day trial, White said she still had no idea why her son was killed.
“I’m numb,” she said Monday. “On one hand, justice was done. But it won’t bring back my son.”
Mills had been training at his alma mater, which he led to the 2008 2A state championship and a 2009 city title, in preparation for an upcoming season with an overseas professional team. The day he was shot, his mother said, he had planned to work out with his former coaches at North Lawndale.
Mills played college ball at Southern Mississippi University, and professionally in Canada and for a Chicago semi-pro team. He’d returned home to Chicago on crutches after breaking his ankle playing for the London, Ontario, Lightning, and was rehabbing from the injury while weighing offers to continue his hoops career overseas. The father of two still hoped to catch on with an NBA team, and planned to make a life in basketball by coaching when his playing career ended, his mother said.
Prosecutors said Taylor, 27, shot Mills multiple times outside the store, in the 4100 block of West Roosevelt in broad daylight on the afternoon of July 25.
Taylor had talked with Mills and an acquaintance of Mills’ before returning to the shop with a gun and opening fire.
The slaying sent ripples of sorrow through the close-knit West Side basketball community. Mills had played all over the city in high school and club teams, and was known for his work ethic.
“He was an inner-city kid who made it out, and had a community of people all over the world who just loved and adored him,” White said in an interview. “There were more than 500 people at his funeral. I didn’t know my son knew that many people.”
A sentencing hearing is set for later this month in front of Judge Vincent Gaughan.