Deah Shaddy Barakat was a man of varied interests and talents: The second-year graduate student at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry started a successful fundraiser aimed at providing quality dental care to people in Syrian refugee camps. He was also an intramural basketball player and big fan of the sport.
After Deah’s life came to a violent end on Feb. 10 in Chapel Hill, N.C., when he, his wife and sister-in-law were murdered in a possible hate crime, he has become a national symbol of the best and brightest the Muslim-American community has to offer.
In the aftermath of the killing, the outpouring of prayers and condolences for the three victims have come from all corners of the country, including NBA superstar Stephen Curry and college basketball player Abdul-Malik Abu.
Prior to the NBA’s All-Star Saturday Night contests on Feb. 14, Curry inscribed “#RIPDeah” and “CurryforDeah” on his signature Under Armour Curry One sneakers. Curry, who was raised in North Carolina while his father played for the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, is a Christian who often references Bible verses on his sneakers. He has been in contact with the Barakat family and publicly paying tribute to Deah after hearing that the aspiring dentist was a fan of his Golden State Warriors.
“It was really kind of a cool deal to be able to use the platform yesterday (Saturday) to honor Deah and his family,” Curry said on Sunday in New York. “And I’m going to send them the shoes I wore yesterday. And hopefully they know a lot of people are thinking about them.”
At North Carolina State University, freshman basketball player Abdul-Malik Abu reacted to the tragedy with a heartfelt Instagram post directed at Deah, a friend and fellow Muslim:
“When I heard the news I was in disbelief I couldn’t quite understand how this was possible. I couldn’t wrap my head around the thought of you and your beautiful wife no longer being alive. You supported me before you met me and showed unconditional love when you did. always excited and happy, always willing to joke around about how the season would go.
“For the short time I’ve known you, you blessed me with the opportunity to attend your wedding, a wedding I see as my first real wedding. We didn’t grow up together but when I heard the news I was hurt like I’ve known you my whole life. I just wanna say thank you to you your wife and family for the support and making North Carolina feel like home. Rest in peace brother and sisters may Allah bless all three of you with the highest heaven. I know you’ll always and forever be a NC State supporter. Rest easy my dude.”