Family, friends mourn death of 14-year-old boy

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Family members and friends of Semaj Miller, a 14-year-old South Los Angeles youth who was shot to death July 29, gather at a vigil outside Compton City Hall Aug. 6. (Photo by Najee Ali)

By 2UrbanGirls, Contributing Writers

COMPTON — Friends and family members gathered at the Compton Civic Center Aug. 6 to celebrate the life of a 14-year-old who lost his life to gun violence on July 29.

Semaj Miller was fatally shot at the corner of 87th and Main streets and social media users flooded various sites seeking the public’s help in identifying the slain youth.

Compton Mayor Aja Brown told a crowd, estimated to be around 100, that she was in her office when she heard the news of his death.

Brown recalled her work as a youth pastor and crossing paths with Miller on multiple occasions.

Pastor Michael Fisher offered his church’s parking lot for youth to practice basketball as Miller was said to be a standout player on a local youth team called the Wildcats Youth Academy.

“Our youth would normally be in the city’s park’s and/or gyms practicing hoops and anyone who needs our parking lot, it is big enough to accommodate,” Fisher said.

Due to a severe revenue shortfall estimated to be around $9.8 million the city of Compton laid off more than five dozen staff members, which effectively closed the Parks & Recreation Department and parks in the city.

Brown said the programs would be restored in Miller’s memory.

Councilwoman Michelle Chambers urged those in attendance to use the power of their social media platforms to try to identify Miller’s killers.

“It’s OK to ask if someone knows anything,” Chambers said.

Miller’s mother described her son as having a passion for sports and he was set to attend Compton High School this school year.

“He gave me a wonderful 14 years,” Taloma Miller said. “He just wanted to be a part of something.”

Miller’s basketball coach Derrick Cooper said he was a special kid with a good heart.

“We want justice,” Cooper said.

The Los Angeles Police Department asked that tips can be reported anonymously to Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477 or by calling the South Bureau Homicide Unit directly at (323) 786-5100.