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Kaylen Denise Thomas

Age 16

McLoud, Oklahoma

In her honor, purple balloons released

Had things been different, last fall she would have played for her school’s varsity basketball team. Known as a dedicated student, her favorite colors were purple and blue.

“You’ve got an empty chair there, and that’s tough on kids,” the superintendent of her school district said afterward. “I didn’t get into this job to bury children.”

Kaylen Denise Thomas, 16, was shot in the head at a friend’s house in McLoud, Oklahoma, on Oct. 5, 2018. The friend, 15, was charged with first-degree manslaughter. The day after she died, purple balloons were released in her honor at a school football game.

By Noor Jerath · Age 15
Meet the Reporters

More than 300 athletes

Elisha Amon Cole

Dreaming big, working on his portfolio

Taveon Donte' Brooks

Basketball point guard, would-be rapper

Natwan Kian Holyfield

Supposed to go to homecoming, prom

Orlando Myron Anderson Jr.

He was so full of life

Sharon Castro

She always helped those who struggled

Avi Liam Franco

He loved to learn and explore

Zyhame Kila Jones

An artist, basketball player and car-lover

Kendrick D. Davis

Not quite clear on his dreams

Lorenzo Moore-Vaughn

About to start his senior year

Jeremiah Ascencio

Last moments spent cradling his brother

Vicente Valero III

He was a modern Renaissance man

James Alexzander Shorter

He’ll never taste grandma’s cookies again

Jayden Fondeur

His older brother found him first

Jontae Billups-Brooks

An athlete and a music lover

Ray Glasgow III

Bench wears jersey instead of captain

Ra’Quan Darius Jones

Didn’t get to see his GED

Ta Quan Pinkney

Bright future; gone too soon

Ricky Lamar Green Jr.

His children never saw him box

Jovontia Antonio Jones

A runner grieved by seven siblings

Brandon Nathan Tyson

Friday night lights end in tragedy