Christian Massey was described as a "gentle giant" by those who knew him. A social worker called Massey, a ward of the state since he was 12, her "success story." Just months after graduating high school, where the 6'2", 300 pounder played football, basketball, and even lacrosse (though he didn't know the sport and just wanted to help out), Massey was gunned down in Philadelphia for his Beats by Dre headphones.
The world's an awfully shitty place. But for Massey, who was 21 when he died, things were looking up. He took part in a "mainstreaming program," where special-needs kids spend part of their days alongside non-disabled peers. Massey mainstreamed at Marple Newtown High, in the Philadelphia suburbs. It took him six years to graduate, and he was accepted to a vocational training program to learn construction. He had even bigger plans:
Matthews said it seemed as if the reports teachers filed about Chris always "glowed." She pulled his file out yesterday afternoon and took one last look. "Goals," he wrote. "Attend college after leaving high school. Improve reading and math."
Massey was able to take part in sports for Marple Newtown. He played two years of varsity football, one year of varsity basketball, and served as the baseball team's manager. He even spent a season as goalie on the JV lacrosse team, though he had never played before. He had a "visceral urge to please," writes Daily News reporter Joseph Santoliquito, and that description is just heartbreaking.
"They figured Christian was such a big kid, he'd stop a lot of shots," Reardon recalled with a laugh. "He was the goalie for the JV the entire season. He was happy to do it, and the team was happy to have him. With Christian, it was about being involved and feeling like he belonged. He was just a lovable kid who was a big part of our school, a spirited kid who was good to other people."
Massey moved on to a group home, but used his weekend passes to visit his grandmother in Philadelphia. On Black Friday he bought the newest edition of Beats By Dre headphones, in part by trading in an older model. Wearing them around the neighborhood on Saturday, he was confronted by a would-be robber. Massey refused to give up the headphones and tried to run. The murderer fired five times, striking Massey in the chest, then took off without the headphones. "Why did they have to shoot him?" Massey's grandmother said. "They didn't get what they shot him for so he was shot for nothing."
Massey was conscious long enough to tell police about the robbery, and died a half-hour later. No arrests have been made.
Marple Newtown High mourns loss of man slain over headphones [Philadelphia Daily News]