“Something’s happened to Tunde. It’s Bad. I think she’s been shot…”
[T]hose were the words Serena Williams exclaimed in terror to family members that September in 2003, after receiving a phone call relaying a tragic incident involving the world-famous tennis star’s sister.
|Yetunde Price, elder sister of Venus and Serena Williams, was killed in a drive-by shooting in her former hometown of Compton, California. Rapper Game’s song “Dreams,” which was produced by Kanye West, is dedicated to Yetunde.|
Before Venus and Serena Williams achieved fame as tennis heroines, the sisters lived in Compton with their father Richard, mother Oracene and sisters Yetunde, Isha and Lyndrea.
The evening that started with a simple, late dinner, ended in bloody murder, when Yetunde decided to visit her old neighborhood in Compton, California.
It was just after midnight when Yetunde was in an SUV with her boyfriend, Rolland Wormley. Somehow a confrontation ensued and a hail of gunfire shot from an AK-47 peppered the vehicle, striking Yetunde with bullets meant for her boyfriend, who was the intended target.
“First call I made was to my mom,” Serena said. “She picked up the phone and before I could even say anything she said, ‘My baby’s gone, isn’t she?”
In early 2004, a Crip gang member named Robert Edward Maxfield pled no contest to involuntary manslaughter. The murderer pleaded out and received a 15-year-prison sentence.
Yertunde was gone. Her three were the most impacted; now they would grow up without a mother. The shooting traumatized the entire Williams family as well.
Serena slid into a deep depression, which resulted in her seeing a therapist, in order to cope with the stress and grief over Yetunde, since the two sisters were very close.
The tennis star understands the feeling of loss many have felt, after losing Yetunde to senseless street violence.
Last month, more than a decade after Yetunde was killed, the Serena Williams Foundation gave a large donation to The Caliber Foundation, an organization that helps support families that have been the victims of gun violence.
The foundation’s goal is to lower the gun homicide rate for youth aged 15-24. The murder rate for the age group is estimated to be 43 times higher than 23 other industrialized nations. To help, The Caliber Foundation launched active campaigns in cities around the U.S.
The Caliber Foundation has been in the streets of Newark, New Jersey, Detroit, Michigan, Hartford Connecticut and the San Francisco Bay Area, all which have been affected by a wave of street violence.
“When someone is killed or wounded through acts of senseless violence, there are many victims. Aside from the person whose life was lost, there are the children, families and communities left struggling for answers or simply left with a hole in their heart,” Serena said at an event celebrating the launch of the partnership. “We are proud to support The Caliber Foundation, which shares our goal of mending hearts and building futures.”
Although the money can never return the dead to their families, Serena hopes her donation and partnership with the organization will help support families during the healing process.