His two passions in life were basketball and working with children.
And Dowayne Henry apparently combined the two with skill and ease in the very brief time he was given to do it.
Police still are searching for the man who killed Henry, 20, and wounded another man in the early hours of Memorial Day as a barbecue wound down at Henry’s 137th Avenue residence in Laurelton.
The two were sitting in front of Henry’s house when a man in a gray hoodie approached them and began shooting.
Back in high school, Henry thought his future would include using basketball to help educate and mold children to reach their potential.
He had been a teaching assistant at St. Martin de Porres Academy in Elmont, LI, and worked a second job at an athletic shoe and sportswear store.
Ed Dana, the school’s executive director said last week that Henry’s death has had a profound impact on the St. Martin de Porres community.
“I saw him every day,” Dana said. “He had only been working here since winter as a teaching assistant in the physical education department at our elementary/junior high school. He was a wonderful young man.”
Dana said teachers and officials had gatherings with students when they returned from the Memorial Day weekend, and that counseling was available for them. He offered the school community’s condolences to Henry’s family.
“The family has suffered such a great loss,” Dana said. “He was a young man who had such promise in education in terms of the impact he could have had going forward. We’re just very saddened to have lost such a vibrant young man, and we don’t even know why.”
The shootings occurred just after 2:30 a.m. on Monday. The Queens native had been an all-star high school basketball player in Florida. He had intended to transfer from Monroe College in the Bronx to York College in Jamaica.
Police at the 105th Precinct said the aspiring educator was pronounced dead at the scene, while the second victim was taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. The second man’s name has not been released.
When Henry was applying to be recruited into college, he wrote on his application that he wanted to work with youth in the community, particularly through his beloved sport, as a way of paying back the help he had always received from older teens as he was growing up.
Dana believes education was Henry’s calling.
“The Martin de Porres community is saddened,” he said. “We’ve lost such a promising young man, loved by the kids, loved by the teachers. He was unique. How many other young men in so short a time could have made such an impact on people? He was a natural at it.”
The NYPD is asking that anyone with information on the identity or whereabouts of Henry’s killer call Crime Stoppers at 1 (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public also can submit tips by logging onto nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting 274637 (CRIMES), then entering TIP577. All tips are strictly confidential.