KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Born and raised in Kansas City, a man killed by KCPD officers will soon be memorialized through a basketball court.
Ryan Stokes, 24, falsely accused of stealing a cellphone, was shot in the back multiple times by a Kansas City, Missouri officer in 2013.
“Ryan grew up in the neighborhood became an adult and he lost his life, so I want to remember him. He was an outstanding kid, always came over here to help me out,” said Chris Harris, executive director of Harris Park. “Ryan played ball here all the time, he played ball here through our little league.”
The basketball court is located at Harris Park at East 40th Street and Wayne Avenue in Kansas City, the same court where a young Ryan Stokes honed his skills by practicing every day.
“I’m not going to only say I heard he was good, I saw he was good. I just didn’t want to give him the big head,” said Ryan’s mother Narene Stokes. “He was supposed to play a basketball game the day police killed him.”
A court that’s become desolate and outdated will soon get a whole new surface and name: The Ryan Stokes Memorial Court.
Harris said renovating and naming the court after Stokes is just one way he plans to educate the community by cleaning it up.
“I knew something was wrong with the neighborhood, but I didn’t know what, when I started cleaning up, it started cleaning up the mind, hearts and soul of people in the community and the people outside started noticing and it started trickling from there,” Harris said.
Harris has been working to revamp the area and keep it updated since the early 90s.
The new modifications to the park will also include a new running track, weight-lifting equipment and flowers.
The custom basketball court will be designed and painted by Sike Style Industries and Yup Yup design.
“With the world being so crazy and wild and out right now, it’s just amazing how everyone is saying this is a good thing. This feels good, this sounds good. It looks good,” Stokes said. “He would just have a fit, cheesing from head to toe.”
The reveal for basketball court is set for late October.
The estimated cost is $17,000.
Donations can be made online toward the basketball court and park renovations.