KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Tuesday’s game for the No. 20 Tennessee Women’s Basketball team was one that was bigger than basketball.
As the Lady Vols improved to 6-0 this season with a 92-51 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Thompson-Boling Arena, the Lady Lions were mourning the loss of a teammate.
18-year-old freshman walk-on Sierra-Li Nicole Wade was shot and killed in her hometown of Lake Village, Ark. on Monday night. Wade, who was also an ROTC cadet, did not travel with the team and instead went home to spend Thanksgiving with her family.
Wade was reportedly shot while she and her brother were at a local basketball court in a public park. Her brother was also shot and survived.
Before the game, Tennessee held a moment of silence as a local ROTC group was there to honor Wade. The Lady Vols also presented Arkansas-Pine Bluff with hand-written letters to express their condolences. It was a moment that was only part of the love that was shown to head coach Dawn Brown and her team as they grieved the tragedy.
Tennessee head coach Kellie Harper and the Lady Vols commented about the situation after the game, saying they could not imagine what their opponents were going through on Tuesday.
“She was full of life,” Arkansas-Pine Bluff senior forward Aiya El Hassan said. “She was a really high-spirited girl. She never gave up during anything. She always pushed her hardest and she was always determined to finish a layup or finish any play or any drill we were doing.’’
“Sierra, her spirit, she just made a presence around you,” Brown said. “She’s 5-2, feisty, never wanted to give up. She pushed us. She was that teammate who, no matter what was going on, she would always make you laugh, make the coaches laugh, make you smile.”