May 27, 2014

An Athlete, a Smile, a Secret Life

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Blayke Ladd was a star basketball player with an infectious smile.

But on Aug. 14, 2013, he was shot to death at the age of 21 in an Oklahoma City hotel room.

Now, Blayke and his smile live on in his mother’s memory and in a framed picture in her office that she kisses every morning when she arrives.

Donna Ladd and her son saw each other in church and talked often. He would always end their conversations with, “I love you mama, and I got you.” Now all she wants to know is why her son was taken from her.

Blayke Ladd plays with his son Braylon at church. The 21-year-old basketball star was shot and killed in an Oklahoma city hotel room Aug. 14, 2013

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Blayke Ladd plays with his son Braylon at church. The 21-year-old basketball star was shot and killed in an Oklahoma city hotel room Aug. 14, 2013

“A mom is not supposed to bury her children. Her children are supposed to bury her,” Ladd said. “He was supposed to bury me.”

Blayke was found dead in the Lincoln Inn Express Hotel and Suites when he missed a drug-related court date earlier that day. Two men were charged with murder and attempted robbery with a firearm in his death. One committed suicide and the other will stand trial at an unknown date, Ladd said.
Now, Ladd is trying to get to the point where she can celebrate her son’s life, instead of mourning his death. She plans to do that by telling his story whenever she can in an attempt to stop gun violence.

Blayke had been a star basketball player at Edmond Memorial High School. Ladd called her son’s involvement in drugs part of his “secret life,” details of which she expects to come out in trial. Although a part of her doesn’t want to hear the details of her son’s life, she knows it will be essential in telling his story.

Ladd plans to tell anyone who will listen about Blayke’s life, from his high school basketball days to his involvement in illegal activity and the birth of his son Braylon. She hopes every detail might deter someone from picking up a gun.

“To me, I want it to be a message to the young people that bullets don’t have eyes and bullets don’t gain permission and using a gun is like shooting with your eyes closed, even if you see your target,” Ladd said.