Philadelphia-area high school basketball standout Devin Bullock was in love with Michelle, and he didn’t care who knew or what they thought of it.
A popular kid who thrived personally, academically and athletically despite a turbulent upbringing, Bullock could always rely on Michelle to soothe him — to keep him level-headed and focused — when he felt the rest of the world had turned its back.
Michelle comforted Bullock when his parents separated while he was in elementary school, and she was there to make him smile and keep him focused as he moved from school to school and living arrangement to living arrangement as a teenager.
Michelle was there when Bullock, the diminutive star guard at New Media Technology Charter School, made a game-winning free throw during the school’s February victory in the Philadelphia Public League Class A semifinals, as she was every day as he roamed the halls at school, where others looked to Bullock for guidance, inspiration or a warm smile.
Bullock was planning on bringing Michelle with him to college in the fall — whether at Community College of Philadelphia, Valley Forge Military Academy or one of the other schools that felt he’d make a great addition to their basketball teams. And Bullock, who at 5-foot-7 played more like 6-foot-3, hoped to one day take her along for the ride in the NBA, where he dreamed of competing with his idol, LeBron James.
And so it was appropriate, if tragic, that Michelle never left Bullock’s bedside at Hahnemann University Hospital, where the 19-year-old clung to life for nearly two weeks after being shot in broad daylight on April 23 near 25th Street and Thompson Avenue, a quarter-mile from his father’s house in North Philly.