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Niskayuna shooting victim Ayanna Hunter, 21, remembered for athletic skills, love of family

Niskayuna shooting victim Ayanna Hunter, 21, remembered for athletic skills, love of family

Niskayuna shooting victim Ayanna Hunter, 21, remembered for athletic skills, love of family
Left: Ayanna Hunter with Albany High in 2016; Right: Ayanna Hunter and Ayanna Hunter in 2013
Photographer: Top, bottom left, bottom right: Gazette file photos; Top right: Antwan Morrison

NISKAYUNA -- The woman shot and killed Monday night at a Memorial Day holiday gathering in Niskayuna was remembered Tuesday as a good person and a good basketball player.

Police Tuesday identified the victim as Ayanna C. Hunter, 21, of Schenectady. But she spent her teen years in Albany and attended at Albany High School, those who knew her said.

She also played basketball on multiple local teams, including Albany High School and the Albany Lady Stars.

"She was the best point guard, rebounder, and scorer on the floor at all times. Personally she was a lovable person," Hunter's coach with the Lady Stars, Antwan Morrison, told The Gazette Tuesday via Facebook.

"Off the court, she was laid back and silly," Morrison added. "She was a big family person. Loved her family so much."

Latest: Police ask public's help in probe of deadly Niskayuna shooting

Hunter was shot and killed shortly after 8 p.m. Monday outside of the Hillcrest Village West apartments in Niskayuna, police said.

Police and witnesses said a gathering had been going on there on the Memorial Day holiday when police said as many as eight shots were fired. Hunter was taken to Ellis Hospital by paramedics, where she died.

Niskayuna police continued to investigate the shooting death Tuesday with the assistance of the New York State Police Major Crimes Unit. 

Police were interviewing any potential witnesses and working with other agencies to develop leads in the case, police said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Niskayuna police through the county dispatch center at 518-630-0911.

News of Hunter's death made its way through the local community, especially the local basketball community, throughout Tuesday morning.

Hunter's work on the court won her multiple awards. As a senior in 2016, she earned Daily Gazette second-team All-Area girls' basketball team honors.

Her skills were known by teammates and competitors alike.

Shenendehowa parent Yacouba Sangare's daughter played with and against Hunter, and he also knew her through his teaching. 

"She was very bright, very smart and an unbelievable basketball player," Sangare said Tuesday.

Another Shen parent who saw her play from the opposite side, former NFL player Derek Brown, recalled her skills on the court making those watching, including himself, take notice. His daughter Sydney played for Shen and met Hunter on the court.

"I always called her AI [for NBA player Allen Iverson] because of how she handled the ball," Brown said.

Morrison recalled coaching Hunter with the Lady Stars briefly in eighth grade and in 10th and 11th grades. She later spent time at college in Rochester on an athletic scholarship, he said.

Her personality always showed through, Morrison said.

"She wanted to defeat you any way possible. Her athletic ability and potential was out of this world," Morrison said. "I was around her mostly with basketball, but we had lots of down time in between games and traveling to events where she would laugh and joke and have fun."

Latest: Police ask public's help in probe of deadly Niskayuna shooting

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