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Jericho Scott, Promising Young Pitcher, Killed In Drive-By Shooting

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Jericho Scott first made headlines when he was 10 years old. His 40 mile per hour fastball was so good that a Connecticut youth baseball league said it was dangerous. The league banned him. There were a lot of expectations for the promising athlete and strong student. Last month, he was killed in a drive-by shooting in New Haven. He was 16. Diane Orson, of member station WNPR, brings us this remembrance.

DIANE ORSON, BYLINE: Mark Gambardella first met Jericho Scott when his older brother was playing on Gambardella’s youth baseball team.

MARK GAMBARDELLA: And this little peanut came along with his brother, and at that time, Jericho was 6 years old. And he was so - you know, he wanted to play. He wanted to play.

ORSON: Gambardella and Lance Ligon coach the Dom Aitro Baseball League, which serves inner city kids in New Haven.

GAMBARDELLA: So, you know, we had him practice with us, and even at the end of the season, I had to give Jericho a trophy just to shut him up basically 'cause he was - he was - oh God, how do I say this? I don't know how to say this.

LANCE LIGON: He was a pain.

GAMBARDELLA: Yeah, he was a pain all right.

LIGON: (Laughter) Coach, let me pitch. No, you're not pitching today. Coach, let me pitch. Why are you not letting me pitch?

ORSON: Jericho Scott and the Dom Aitro Rookies won a lot of games. When at the ace pitcher was 10 and the Rookies were on a summer break, he signed up to play for a few weeks with another league in a town. That's when parents complained he threw too fast, and officials announced he would not be allowed to pitch. The story drew national attention, including a piece on NPR, flying around the Internet faster than Jericho's fastball. Here he is being interviewed on CBS's "The Early Show."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE EARLY SHOW")

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Why do you think you should be able to pitch?

JERICHO SCOTT: Because God gives people gifts, and you should be able to use them.

ORSON: And he had gifts. Jericho was in the honors program in high school, and he kept up with baseball, pitching and playing shortstop. He'd come home at night to the rough Fair Haven section of New Haven, but for a long time, sports seemed to keep him out of trouble - until April 19. The teen was in a car parked on the street two doors away from his home. Just after midnight, another car swerved around the corner, gunshots fired - three people hit.

LEROY SCOTT: Right here is where my son was shot. This is where we live, and he's on his way home to have pizza and wings with his brother.

ORSON: Jericho's father, Leroy Scott, ran onto the street.

L. SCOTT: And I did CPR - it was right there - on my son. You know, that's heartbreaking, man. You know, it's really heartbreaking.

ORSON: Two other young men were injured. Sixteen-year-old Jericho Scott died at Yale New Haven Hospital. His mother, Nicole, slowly straightens photos, candles and stuffed animals in a makeshift memorial on the sidewalk.

NICOLE SCOTT: It's rough to raise kids, especially around here. Not that you have to compete, but it's almost like you have to compete with the streets.

L. SCOTT: You can't keep a 16-year-old locked down, you know, and that was his thing. You know, I'm 16, Mom. You know, I don't want to, you know, be locked up in the house.

ORSON: New Haven police say a motive for the shooting remains unclear. There have been no arrests. Jericho called coach Lance Ligon just a few hours before he was shot. The teen wanted to talk about the next baseball practice. Ligon says it's hard to know what the lessons are here. The way he looks at it...

LIGON: The man upstairs needed a pitcher and a shortstop. He went from the minor leagues down here to the major league up there. That's the only way we look at it.

ORSON: For NPR News, I'm Diane Orson in New Haven. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.