Travis “TJ” Huntley was shot and killed on a Sunday afternoon at a Florida A&M University (FAMU) outdoor basketball court. He was only 20 years old.
As Blavity reported, shots rang out on the basketball courts outside the Hansel Tookes Student Recreation Center, killing Huntley and wounding four other people, including a 16-year-old boy.
Huntley had spent his entire life in Tallahassee, so it was not uncommon to see him shooting hoops around town. The city knew him well. While attending the Florida A&M University-affiliated K-12 laboratory school, known as FAMU DRS (Developmental Research School), he played on their varsity basketball team.
I wrote two of the stories on today's @TDOnline front page. Both focus on acts of gun violence amid crowds. One killed 20-year-old Travis Huntley, a life-long Tallahasseean who would have started his Habitat For Humanity job this week. The other left a man injured. pic.twitter.com/ZKkJZ8urDx
— Christopher Cann (@ChrisCannFL) November 30, 2022
His former coach praised him as a respectful athlete and a role model. One of Huntley’s former teammates said that having him on the team inspired him to perform at his highest level.
“He loved the game,” his mother Latoshia Wilson, 49, told the Tallahassee Democrat.
More than a dozen people were reportedly playing basketball or watching games on Sunday when the shooter started firing into the crowd, according to the police. Emergency services took all five victims to a nearby hospital, and four were anticipated to live. Police say on Sunday night, Huntley passed away in a Tallahassee emergency room.
Huntley came from a big family. Most of his siblings reside in the Tallahassee province, including five sisters, one brother and one stepbrother.
” When he entered this world, it was as if he had been here before,” Wilson said. “He was far too experienced for his age. He was very wise.”
His childhood home was the Springfield Apartments, better known as Joe Lewis.
His loved ones told the outlet that the FAMU DRS basketball team was his favorite part of his time at Pineview Elementary and FAMU DRS.
While basketball was always his first love, he had a newfound interest in the kitchen. The chicken alfredo, according to his mother, was his best dish. At times, he and his brother would whip up a massive bowl and sell plates to folks in the area. Wilson also shared that he wanted to learn the culinary arts so he could fine-tune his skills in the kitchen.
As the pandemic spread, Huntley decided to get his GED by attending the ACE (Adult and Community Education) program.
Over the past few years, he has worked seasonal jobs at Walmart, FedEx and UPS. Just a month ago, he landed a job as a paid construction worker for Habitat for Humanity, where he had previously volunteered.
“Today would have been his first day,” Wilson sadly told the outlet.
Sunday morning was the last time she saw her son, and that was at home by North Florida Christian School.
That morning, his mother said that he got up, showered, and walked to a friend’s house.
Soon after, he came back and told Wilson he was “going to play basketball on the South Side,” she said. “I told him I love him and to be safe.”
In the fall of 2018, Huntley played varsity basketball for the FAMU DRS under head coach Dione Desir.
“He had something special about him, and I’ve always thought that,” Desir told the Tallahassee Democrat Monday. “He always had a beautiful smile, and he loved to laugh. He was a big jokester.”
He was an all-around capable player on the court.
He had an odd jump shot, but it often worked. TJ had the skill to drive to the basket when he needed to, despite being only about 6 feet tall, which is below average even for high school ballers.
Huntley spent many hours in the gym honing his skills, which showed on the court.
“There would be times when I had to kick them out of the gym,” Desir lightheartedly shared. “I would say ‘Y’all got to go home, I got to feed my kids,’ and he would ask for the keys.”
Desir also described Huntley’s speed as “lightning fast.” Although he was clearly skilled and qualified, he would never put basketball secondary when the coach suggested he consider running track.
“Basketball was his heart. It’s what he loved to do,” she said.
Desir continued to see Huntley on Sundays when she opened the FAMU DRS gym in the years after he left her team. He and his brothers and friends would play on public courts like the one close to FAMU’s recreation center when she didn’t open the gym.
Huntley was last seen by Desir at an open court she hosted in late October.
“He actually came by to visit me and say hey, and that was literally the last time he gave me a hug,” she lamented.
Lifelong friend and former teammate Caleb Bryant said he heard everything because he was nearby at DRS when the shooting transpired.
“I was right at DRS, and I could hear everything that happened,” he said. “When I heard the name of who it was, it broke me. I still can’t even believe it to this moment because he’s someone I never thought would go out like that.” .
He shared kind words about his late friend and expressed his deep sadness over Huntley‘s death to the Tallahassee Democrat.
FAMU DRS and Chiles holding a moment of silence before their game for Travis Huntley, a former FAMU DRS basketball player who was killed in a shooting Sunday night z
— Jack Williams (@jackgwilliams) November 30, 2022
Huntley leaves behind a beautiful family who loved him dearly. Funeral services will be held on Dec. 10 at 11 a.m. at 2619 S. Meridian St.