Friends and family on Saturday were mourning the fatal shooting of Gerald Brown, 34, a popular former basketball star known for his humor and love of his community.
Brown, who led an undefeated team at Frederick Douglass High School and played at Providence and Loyola University Maryland, was shot and killed around 8 p.m. Friday in the 3700 block W. Forest Park Ave. Police have released few details.
Word spread quickly on social media, where there was an outpouring of grief. Brown was remembered for both his athletic accomplishments and his character.
“He was genuinely an amazing guy,” said Aaron Maybin, the artist and former NFL linebacker.
Maybin said he got to know Brown over the past five years, calling him “one of the most genuine and funniest people I ever met.” He described Brown as a devoted father who always gave back to others, coaching youths and participating in community events that helped Baltimore children in need.
“He was the definition of somebody that loved his city,” Maybin said.
Brown was an All-Metro performer for the 2001-2002 Douglass High School boys basketball team that went 28-0 en route to Baltimore City and Class 3A state titles.
Cousin Ed Richardson, a longtime assistant men’s basketball coach at the Johns Hopkins University, said that year’s team was “one of the best teams in the history of Baltimore city basketball.”
“Gerald was special,” said Rodney Coffield, Brown’s high school basketball coach. “He had a drive that was out of this world. He was full of energy and he wanted to win. He was a great guy and a great kid, too. And as soon as he walked into the door, we loved him. The Douglass community is mourning right now.”
Richardson said Brown fielded recruiting offers from top programs like Syracuse, and chose Providence College. He played two years before transferring to Loyola University Maryland, where he was one of the top scorers in the country. In two years under coach Jimmy Patsos, Brown averaged 20.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.
Patsos said Brown brought an “unbelievable energy wherever he went.” He said Brown was creative and funny — and “had a way of making people come together.”
On the court, “he didn’t just score,” Patsos said. “He knew how to play. … He was one of the greatest players I ever coached.”
After college, Brown played a few years in Europe, according to Richardson. He maintained ties to many top players who came from the region.
In recent years, he had become known for funny videos he posted online that often went viral, and he had performed stand-up comedy and hosted comedy nights at clubs, said Anthony Colston, who knew Brown from hanging out at the City of Gods clothing store in Hollins Market.
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“This whole thing is so shocking,” Richardson said. “He knows all kinds of people, and everybody that knows him likes him.”
“I’m absolutely positive that someone knows exactly who did it,” he added.
Patsos said he recently saw Brown at a high school game at UA House at Fayette, a community center in East Baltimore. They made plans to go to dinner in Little Italy soon.
“I got a call last night” about Brown’s death, Patsos said. “I was extremely shocked.”
Maybin said news of Brown’s death was heartbreaking.
“No matter how many people love you,” Maybin said, “any of us can be taken in a moment. … Violence in our community is never-ending.”
Baltimore Sun staff members Glenn Graham, Justin Fenton and Josh Land contributed to this article.