West Louisville basketball coach mourns role social media played - WDRB 41 Louisville News

West Louisville basketball coach mourns role social media played before victim's murder

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A West Louisville basketball coach is mourning the loss of one of the youths who used to be on his team -- and he's talking about the signs on social media that foreshadowed his death.

"Really, social media is a voice for a lot," said Derrick Miller. "What they do is, they either cry out for help, or they cry out for what they want to do."

Miller coaches the "Who's Next" basketball team -- a staple in west Louisville. He says basketball provides west Louisville youth with "an alleyway to get out of the street." The team has been a shelter for youth for 15 years, saving children and saving lives.

Lately, "Who's Next" has a double-meaning. 

"I've had between nine and 11 family members get killed in murder to the streets," Miller said. "You're going to get a call about the next family member, or the next friend, or the next ex-ball player."

He says 50 of his former players are in jail or have died in a Louisville crime. The latest came Wednesday afternoon, when Robert Leachman, one of Miller's former players, was shot to death.

In many of these violent deaths, there were signs of trouble on social media before the shooting even started. Leachman's death was no exception. In the last week, 20-year-old Leachman's Facebook page made mention of phone theft and gun sales. Leachman also shared pictures of young people flashing signs. 

Another post says directly, "I'm not hiding."

Louisville Metro Police say juvenile crime is on the rise, and while Leachman is not a minor, roughly half the murder suspects or victims in the city are under the age of 25.

"The majority of kids that are in the youth detention center are there because of something that started on social media and resulted in something happening in the street," said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. "This is a relatively new phenomena of the last five or 10 years and it's something everyone needs to understand." 

Miller mentors from experience. 

"They slammed those jail gates and told me I had to do 10 years in prison," Miller recalled. "Yeah, it hurts."

So he lives by the hope of who's next -- to win in the game of life. 

"You can't save all of them, but you've got to try," Miller said.

Funeral arrangements for Leachman are pending. 

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