Sad News out of Long Island.. Syracuse Prospect James McClenic Killed

Read this in Newsday this morning. He played for Nassau Community College and was going to be playing at Syracuse next year but he was shot and killed at a gas station in Hempstead the other night

Mom, coaches remember slain Roosevelt student

James McClenic, 19, of Roosevelt, had big cleats to fill.

But he ably matched the successes of his older brother, Daryle - a revered all-Long Island athlete - medaling in the 100- and 200-meter races on the track and scoring touchdowns as he clutched the pigskin for Roosevelt High School.

Selena McClenic said her son was planning to wrap up his sophomore year at Nassau Community College - where he played for the football team, undefeated this season - and that he was set to attend Syracuse University on a scholarship to play for the Orange.

PHOTOS: More photos of James McClenic

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The prospect of her son playing big-school football hardly surprised the mother, who remembered him taking the field as a 5-year-old with the Baldwin Bombers. To her, he was a good kid who spent spare time with family and aspired to become a pediatrician, a choice he had switched to after long wanting a career in criminal justice.

What she never expected, she said, was that he would become a victim of violence. James McClenic was killed Wednesday when a gunman approached him at a Citgo gas station in Hempstead and shot him as he sat in a car, striking him in the neck.

"I'm sorry that I lost my child," Selena McClenic said as she finalized funeral arrangements Friday. "I'm just at a loss for words. He was my baby. It's just heartbreaking."

Syracuse officials could not be reached for comment Friday.

Nassau detectives said they have not made an arrest in the case, and they could not say whether the shooting was related to an assault that McClenic was charged with in February.

A spokesman for the Nassau district attorney's office said McClenic was being prosecuted along with two other Roosevelt 19-year-olds for various gang assault charges and alleged criminal possession of a weapon stemming from the Feb. 21 slashing of a man at a deli in Roosevelt.

Selena McClenic, though, remembered her son as a devout Christian, baptized recently, who loved attending Antioch Baptist Church in Hempstead as much as he did running circles around opponents on the field. "I'm glad that he turned his life over to God," she said. "He was baptized and he understood life and death."

Joe Vito, who coached McClenic in football at Roosevelt, said he had known the athletic standout since he was a child emulating his big brother.

He recalled McClenic's best game as a playoff matchup against Manhasset.

"He ran all over them," Vito said. "Ten carries for 183 yards and three touchdowns in only three quarters. That was his finest moment as a player for us."

His football coach at Nassau Community College, Jermaine Miles, agreed: "He was a team player. He loved the game."

Viewing will be at Antioch Baptist Church from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday; a funeral will be held at the church at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Burial will follow in Greenfield Cemetery in Uniondale.

With Stacey Altherr

and Matthew Chayes

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