DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The Dayton community is remembering former NBA player and native to the city, Adreian Payne.
Before going pro, many Dayton community members said they remember Adreian Payne as a young man wearing a Jefferson High School jersey.
Omega Baptist Church said it feels like just yesterday Payne was singing in the church’s pews.
“I remember him sitting in his seat where he normally sat and when he stood, he was so much taller than everyone around him,” said Pastor Emeritus Daryl Ward.
A suspect is in custody after Payne was shot and killed early Monday morning at a home in East Orange County, Florida. He was later pronounced dead at an area hospital.
Ward said he remembers Payne growing up here in Dayton before becoming an NBA star. He said Payne started coming to church at an early age due to his grandmother’s involvement in his life.
“Other kids would come around, they didn’t have much to say, not concerned about anyone but themselves or their stardom, but not Adreian, he was a good kid,” said Ward.
Payne graduated from Jefferson in 2010 where he led the Broncos to the Division 4 State Championship. Several of the Payne’s coaches say Adreian’s life told a story of resilience.
“He lost his mom at an early age, had an enlarged heart, then lost his grandmother, had to learn how to read at a late age like maybe his freshman year but went on to get a degree at Michigan State and actually held like a 3.0,” said Mark Parker, Stivers High head coach.
Coaches said Payne’s spirit will live on at Jefferson High School but his death has shook the Dayton community.
“I’m still numb right now I think I was one of the last ones to find out and I’ve been numb all day,” said Jefferson High head coach Will Mitchel. “My prayers definitely go out to the family.”
Payne went on to attend Michigan State and play college basketball. Following college, Payne was the No. 15 pick in the NBA by the Atlanta Hawks.