Lorado Williams Jr. was an amateur boxer with a penchant for making friends with strangers.
When he died Saturday after being shot in the 3600 block of E. Lombard St., he had recently attended a wedding with his fiancee, Monika Bobrowska, where he coaxed his table of guests into a dancing frenzy.
At times it seemed that everybody knew "Rado," Bobrowska said. On a trip to Cancun, Mexico, he stayed up making friends after others fell asleep. "The next day, we're walking around and everybody's going, 'Hey, Rado. Hey, Rado,' " said Bobrowska, 29. "I said, 'We're in Mexico, how do you know all these people?'"
The circumstances of the shooting are not clear, but police said Williams might have been the unintended victim in a botched robbery.
They said they believe the 27-year-old encountered a street robbery about 1:40 a.m. Friday and was shot in the back of the head when he tried to run away.
Williams was on the way to visit his brother Lamar, 25, when he stopped to speak with friends on the front steps of a house, said his brother. Not long after, Williams was shot.
His brother said he was close by, and when he heard that Williams had been gunned down, he ran over and shook the muscular 6-footer.
Police say they know of no suspects.
A friend, John Rallo, said Williams had more than 80 fights during his career as an amateur boxer. The necklace with the tiny golden boxing gloves that swung from Williams' neck was his signature, said Rallo.
"That was what he breathed - boxing," said his sister, Darein Williams, 29. "When we were younger, we fought a lot. But since he's changed, we became a little - no a lot - closer."
Williams had had his share of struggles with the law, mostly for relatively minor offenses that included a conviction for second-degree assault in 2001. His fiancee said he was expelled from high school for fighting. But his family and those who knew him said he was a reformed man, a fighter only in the ring.
"He's not a confrontational dude. He was always kind of smiling, never one to start trouble," said Rallo, who hired Williams two months ago to work at Ground Control, a mixed martial arts academy where Williams helped with fundamentals classes.
Williams split his time between Ground Control and a rowhouse on South Lehigh Street where he lived with Bobrowska, her best friend and her best friend's two small children.
He crowded the bedroom he shared with Bobrowska with dozens of gold plastic boxing trophies, Rocky DVDs and books - lots of books. Among them: How to Succeed in Life and Sport and a biography of Muhammad Ali. The house became a regular hangout for family and friends.
He wrote poetry
Williams wrote poetry about his friends, about growing up with his mother and about Bobrowska, some of which she found in his car after he died.
The two had dated for nearly 11 years, after they were introduced through friends at a party. "We spent the whole night talking, and we haven't been separated since," she said.
He was a man in the midst of change. After boxing for years, he approached Rallo recently to ask for training in mixed martial arts. Rallo had known him for at least four years and knew that Williams, at a lean 150 pounds, was fast and strong. "He wanted to fight professionally, and I very well think he could have," Rallo said.
Bobrowska said he had planned to attend college in the fall - his tuition was a gift he had received for his birthday June 12. He had a list of businesses he wanted to start, she said.
He had planned to visit his mother in Pennsylvania on Saturday, the day he died, said his sister.
"He was just the life of the party," Bobrowska said, "telling stories and entertaining everybody. ... He would just provide the funny anecdote."