Papa lives for soccer. His dream of going pro brought him halfway across the world, from Sengal to Chicago.
“That’s something I miss inside,” he said. “I was waking up every day, going to practice, see myself going pro one day and it just collapsed on May 28.”
The Friday of Memorial Day weekend, Papa said he turned on his Lyft app for a few hours of driving to make a little money for his upcoming family visit to Africa. Papa said he’d picked up a passenger in south suburban County Club Hills, but something went wrong about half an hour into the ride.
“He told me to keep straight and I kept straight, and then we got to the intersection,” Papa recalled. “He asked me to make a U-turn.”
From the backseat, he said the passenger got furious and heated.
“I told him, ‘Please get out of my car and call another Lyft,’ so when he was getting out, that’s when he shot me,” he said. “I didn’t see him at all. I just remember that I couldn’t feel my legs anymore.”
Dreams of professional soccer and family flashed into Papa’s head.
“When I was in the ambulance, that’s when I started asking the question, ‘Am I going to die tonight?'” he said.
He didn’t die. The Chicago State University soccer player spent six weeks in the hospital, and several more in rehab. Two to three times a week, he’s trying to learn how to walk again. Somehow, though, he’s not angry.
“Yes, it’s really hard. That’s not something easy. You have to fight through it,” Papa said. “I used to get up out of bed and do everything by myself, but now I have to call my mom sometimes to help me to get out of and inside bed.”
Country Club Hills police are still investigating the rideshare shooting. Papa knows the name of the passenger who shot him, but he’s still out there, uncharged.
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