By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Jahlil Tripp was on his way home from school with friends after a girl's basketball game when he heard it. At first it sounded like fire crackers, but he grew up in Brownsville so it didn't take him long to figure out what the sounds were and he ran.
A few seconds later he was on the ground, he was alive, but incredibly scared and worried that his basketball career might be over after he had been hit in the calf by a stray bullet last Thursday night.
"I was pretty scared because I didn't know the severity of the injury at the time," Tripp recalled. "It wasn't until I got to the hospital that they told me what happened and when I might be able to return. I was really happy that it wasn't very serious."
Tripp was quickly rushed to the hospital, where doctors told him that there was no structural damage to his leg. The bullet was finally removed from his leg on Tuesday as doctors didn't want to make the injury worse by immediately digging it out. Now he's rehabbing the leg and expects to be back to playing basketball by February at the latest.
"When I first heard what happened I was ready to quit," said Jacob Edwards, Tripp's coach at Brooklyn Collegiate. "Then when I found out that it is not as bad as it was and there was no damage I felt like I should stick it out. It's my job to watch over them after school and I felt helpless because you can't be with them 24 hours of the day. You have to let them go at some point. I wish it was a different set of circumstances in the streets."
Edwards explained that the wound wasn't only hard on him, but Tripp's teammates had a difficult time dealing with the impact as well. Not only have they lost the best player on their team for a stretch, most of them live around the same area as Tripp and it is a reminder that anything can happen at any time. They have dedicated the rest of the season to Tripp.
Teammate Rashaad John, who was with Tripp at the time of the incident, had a hard time speaking with the Brooklyn Eagle about the incident afterward.
"We've been telling him to keep his head up," John said. "He'll be back soon, he'll be playing by February."
Despite the incident, Tripp remains upbeat. He realizes that it obviously could have been much worse, his basketball career could have been over or worse. He is desperate to return to Brooklyn Collegiate too because he feels that his team has a good chance at beating Lincoln, which is easily the favorite in the Public School Athletic League this season, to take the city title.
"I think everybody has bought into the system and we've had a lot of returning players," Tripp said, bragging about his team. "After we won (the A Division title) my freshman year, we only had three players leave that team. Since then we've grown and gotten better at the system. Everyone's game has just evolved into something that can compete at the AA."
Since he left the team, the Lions have lost to Lincoln and beaten Grady. After the 96-73 loss to Lincoln on Saturday, his teammates pointed out what a difference he could have made in that game. "He's the guy that slows everything down for us," John said.
"The teammates were very upset, but they were realistic of the situation," Edwards said. "They knew they had to step up and compete. We're trying to keep our heads above water until he comes back. Right now we're looking to go with Davere Creighton, Cheyenne Nettleton, Willie Barnes and a couple of seniors Adrian Williams and Rashaad John to pick up the load with Jahlil out.
"We can't wait for him to get back though."