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Pennsylvania Teen Shooting Survivor Rebounds to Keep Hoop Dreams Alive

Pennsylvania Teen Shooting Survivor Rebounds to Keep Hoop Dreams Alive


WEST MIFFLIN, Pa. - ESPN has West Mifflin Area High School seniors Taylor Thomas and Ciara Patterson ranked among the best girls' basketball players in Pennsylvania. They both plan to play college basketball.

A little more than two years ago, doctors didn't know if Thomas would ever be able to play again after she was shot 10 times at a Sweet 16 party in Duquesne.

"I was losing blood," she said. "There was blood everywhere."

When Thomas' parents arrived at the scene, her mother feared the worst.

"She's like, 'Where's Taylor?' And I had the hoodie over my head, and she thought I was dead," Thomas said.

Miraculously, Thomas survived. But her friend was killed in the attack -- a wound that will never heal.

"Just don't take your life for granted, because you can be gone in a wink of an eye," she said.

Her teammates have adopted the same attitude.

"Knowing that happened, things can change so fast before the blink of an eye and you have to protect each other and not take anything for granted," Paige Flore said.

Now, Thomas is helping lead the Lady Titans on an impressive run in the WPIAL playoffs. They'll play Ringgold in the quarterfinals on Saturday at Peters Township.

Thomas' team helps her make the most of her second chance.

"That right there pushed us to go stronger and gave us goals, gave us hopes to look forward to," Patterson said.

Teammates watch as Thomas runs up and down the court with bullet fragments still lodged in her leg. They have a saying -- "We hold the rope" -- to show how they stick together as a family and have each other's backs.

"It's honestly the truth -- I value life more and, like, I'm way more sensitive and stuff, and I want to be the best at everything I do. And even if I struggle, I just want everyone to be together," Thomas said.

Even though the Titans are playing so well, and so together, Thomas said it's not just the changes on the court that matter.

"Before, I wouldn't really care if my mom and dad screamed at me, or if my mom would cry if she's, like, so hurt of what I did," Thomas said. "But now I value, like, I should be appreciative that she's doing this and that she actually cares for me."

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doug March 01 2014 at 8:14 PM

Good thinking Taylor. Proud of you Lady Titans.

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randinrm March 01 2014 at 7:29 PM

Who shoots up a Sweet 16 party?!!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
cvanac8550 March 01 2014 at 10:17 AM

I 'm happy she survived...but to tell you the truth I'm so sick of this stuff.....stupid kids with guns acting like gangsters in a rap video ...phyco drugged up kids shooting up schools like it ws a video game........

Flag Reply +9 rate up
1 reply
simpljb cvanac8550 March 01 2014 at 2:00 PM

the guy that did the shooting din't live anywhere near there and he was 25

Flag Reply 0 rate up
simpljb March 01 2014 at 1:53 PM

no reason given in any of the other articles as to why this man opened fire on these girls at that party - what is wrong with people ?

Flag Reply +6 rate up
bryanmerrittper2 March 01 2014 at 10:32 AM

Why do these black kids keep shooting each other ? This is beyond my understanding. This girl is obviously a bright lovely person what a shame this stuff happens all the time .

Flag Reply +10 rate up
3 replies
chckpope March 01 2014 at 9:30 AM

Boy, I remember when I was a teen, we'd go to party's to meet people and maybe even that special person. Now you need to be worried some aas will be shooting the place up. Some races will NEVER evolve.

Flag Reply +13 rate up
4 replies
zygi & paris March 01 2014 at 12:20 PM

In reply to one idiot's response down the page; elnro....You need to get your facts together. Firstly, how can the response that Sandra gave be bigoted. You took that opportunity to spew the garbage out of your mouth, with no facts. I will not give you the respect of correcting you. But, I know for a fact that your figures are wrong. Your homework for today is to do some research, then come back and apologize to her. The only other understanding that I can get from your reply is that YOU are the BIGOT, not Sandra. There are millions of Black children who do not engage in rap music, and whose parents have seen to it that they are well educated. Get a clue jerk.

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1 reply
quinncarpetclean zygi & paris March 01 2014 at 11:03 PM

can't see that other guys remark...probably offensive and worthless.....don't be that....do your zen thing

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Taxi Talk March 01 2014 at 12:39 PM

Uh - what was the shooter's name? Why did he / she do it ?? Is the shooter in jail ?? Oh - and they forgot to say the 'hearts and prayers' thing. 'Isn't that what makes it an official story ??

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1 reply
simpljb Taxi Talk March 01 2014 at 1:56 PM

he was 25 from a neighboring township , the reason for doing this I never found , but he was convicted of third degree murder

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2 replies
David S. simpljb March 01 2014 at 3:40 PM

There is no "third" degree murder charge.......

Flag 0 rate up
hellyon3too simpljb March 01 2014 at 3:57 PM

Don't listen to DavidS. Yes, there is third degree murder. He should really check his facts before posting.

Flag +5 rate up
poetxtwo March 01 2014 at 8:06 PM

What a sweet ending to an unbelievable story. She became appreciative of life & her mom!! WTG Taylor. Prayers for all of Ciara's friends & family.

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Mister Wonderful March 01 2014 at 7:32 PM

Seems like a lot of shootings happen to basketball players.

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