Shaq Lawson, a Buffalo Bills defensive end and a former Clemson University football player, will pay for the funeral of Ja’Naiya Scott, the 11-year-old who was fatally shot this week at her home in Anderson.
Lawson, who grew up in Central about 20 miles north of Anderson, said he had read news reports about the little girl’s death and felt compelled to do something.
“It could have been my little sister,” he said late Wednesday. “I’ve got a little sister around that age, and it could have been one of my family members.”
Lawson spoke to the Independent Mail and The Greenville News late Wednesday in a telephone interview from Arizona. He said he had reached out to speak to Ja’Naiya’s mother, Marshella Rice.
“I know her heart was hurting,” Lawson said. “I was so speechless I couldn’t saying anything. I felt for her pain. I felt the pain, too. I felt like any way I could possibly help out, I was going to do that. It hit my heart.”
Ja’Naiya’s uncle Fred Rice first announced that Lawson would pay for her funeral when Rice spoke at a vigil for the little girl Wednesday evening.
Ja’Naiya was fatally wounded after someone shot at her home more than 35 times at 1:30 a.m. Sunday, according to police. A bullet went through her right shoulder and severed her subclavian artery, causing her to quickly lose tremendous amounts of blood, according to Anderson County Coroner Greg Shore.
Ja’Naiya’s 18-year-old sister was also shot at the home and is hospitalized, and her 11-year-old cousin, also wounded, remains in critical condition.
No charges have been filed and no suspects have been named in the case.
Anyone with information about Ja’Naiya’s death is asked to call 1-888-CRIME-SC.
Lawson, a standout at D.W. Daniel High School who went on to be a star at Clemson and a first-round NFL draft pick in 2016, said he still thinks of the Upstate as home. And he said he hates to think of this kind of violence hitting home.
“Whoever did this needs to come forward and tell the truth,” he said. “And whoever’s hiding, it’s wrong that you’re hiding. This is a little girl who is gone. It’s just pointless killing people — killing an innocent child. She was at home, a place she was supposed to be safe.”
Follow Nikie Mayo on Twitter @NikieMayo and email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.