2008-08-22 / Sports

Basketball Tournament Honors Close Friend

By Elio Velez

After moving to the Rockaways four years ago, Antonio Cannon Sr. didn't forget the friendships he forged when living in Lefrak City.

When Cannon started his AAU basketball program there, his sons Deytwan and Antonio Jr. had formed what was thought to be a lifelong friendship with Tyshawn Bierria.

But Cannon Sr. and many others would be shattered when they heard the terrible news on May 2. Bierria, a star at Newtown High School and at SUNY New Delhi, was stabbed 11 times after trying to break up a fight outside of his college residence hall. He succumbed to his injuries five days later on May 2.

Cannon Sr., remembers Bierria as soft-spoken kid who would flash a smile and helpful to his two sons. And because Bierria made an impact to so many others, Cannon Sr. will honor his memory this weekend by instituting the first Tyshawn Bierria Memorial Basketball Event.

The event gathers some of the top city AAU basketball programs in three separate divisions that will occur on Saturday and Sunday afternoon at Hoffman Park, which is across the street from the Queens Center Mall.

Cannon Sr. said that at 6-5, Bierria could play many positions on the court, and was able to do many good things on the hardwood. But he never had a big ego, and was always helpful.

"When my kids were 10-11 years old, he would play with them and help them. He was a quiet kid. He wasn't loud and he stayed to himself," Cannon Sr. said about Bierria

Bierria went to break up an altercation, after an being at an event on the morning of April 27. Five people were charged with murder in his death. The teams will be separated into 13, 17 and 19 and under divisions. Cannon's own team, the T.K. All-Stars will join NYC Finest's and Springfield Rifles amongst the teams to participate.

There will be halftime and between game entertainment provided by Stan's Pepper Steppers on Sunday, dancers and musical groups. Cannon Sr. hopes to make this event an annual occurrence because he hopes to keep Bierria's memory alive with this tournament.

"His mother always said to keep your head up and stay focused," Cannon said about Bierria's mother, Sharon, who is a minister with the Eternal Love Baptist Church.

"I want to do that."

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