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Disabled man shot dead in park where he went every day: ‘My heart is totally broken’

Deryl Young, 69, talks about his nephew Jervone Morris who was shot and killed in Euclid Park at West 98th Street and South Wallace Street on Memorial Day, May 29, 2017. Young raised Morris who was blind and disabled but walked to the park every day to volunteer with kids and play basketball. (Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune)

Jervon Morris lived his life on the basketball court of a small park around the corner from his South Side home.

Legally blind and suffering from other disabilities, the 20-year-old typically started his day playing basketball at Euclid Park in Longwood Manor, down the block from an elementary school. Then he did jobs for the park district there before playing more basketball in the evening, according to neighbors and family.

On Monday, Morris skipped a family gathering and walked the block from his home to the park at 98th and Wallace streets, his family said.

He was playing basketball when someone opened fire around 5:40 p.m. Morris was shot in the head. His family said it appeared he was running back home when he collapsed to the ground.

"When I saw him just now, he’s on the outside of the park facing this way," his aunt, Edna Young, told reporters at the scene. "He was down facing toward the house like he was trying to run home, and got shot right there in the gateway of the park.

"My heart is totally broken," she said. "I can’t believe Jervon is gone."

Police released few details of the shooting. Officials said there was a group of people in the park when as many as 20 shots were fired. No one was reported in custody.

Morris was among 52 people shot in Chicago over the Memorial Day weekend. Like Morris, many of them were wounded on the final day of the holiday period.

Edna Young and her husband Deryl Young said they had raised Morris since he was a baby.

The Youngs had left their house in the 9800 block of South Lowe Avenue Monday afternoon to go to a family get-together. Morris stayed behind. They were gone for about an hour when they got a phone call that Morris had been shot.

"He was a lovely young man," Deryl Young said. "His disabilities did not deprive him of being a good person.

"He plays with all the kids on the block," he said. "He’s more of a kid on the block then they are … Only place JoJo go is to the park and back home, that’s it. He don’t go nowhere else. He don’t cross the basketball court. He don’t go across the other block."

A neighbor, Joe Watkins, said Morris volunteered with a local summer camp and went to the park "every single day — even in the winter."

WGN-TV contributed

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