Hundreds of people are expected to gather at the Mercyhurst University Athletic Center on Thursday, Dec. 1, to remember the promising young life of star basketball player and Mercyhurst North East recruit Akyra Murray, who was killed last June in the deadly massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
The Play for Peace event will recognize her parents, Albert and Natalie Murray of Philadelphia, and honor her memory at the beginning of the MNE- Pitt-Titusville basketball game, which is being played on the Erie campus to make it more convenient for Erie area families and students who wish to attend, said Amy Senefelder, head coach of the North East women's basketball team. Game time is 6 p.m. The men's teams follow at 8.
Admittance to both contests is free, although donations will be accepted to benefit the Murray family and the MNE women's basketball program. The first 100 spectators will collect a free t-shirt. Local agencies will also be on hand to share information on anti-violence and grief support measures.
At 18, Murray was the youngest of the 49 people killed in the Orlando attack. An additional 53 were injured during the hours-long siege.
Murray was a 1,000-point-scorer who graduated third in her class at West Catholic Preparatory School. She had earned a scholarship and had committed to play basketball at Mercyhurst North East beginning this season.
She was to be #20. MNE representatives will present Murray's parents with her jersey at the start of the first game.
"Akyra was a great person and a perfect example of the type of student-athlete we want to represent our program here at MNE," said Senefelder, who promised her team is keeping Murray with them in spirit throughout the season.