Teens killed in 2016 Club Blu shooting honored in annual youth basketball showcase
Basketball players from all over Southwest Florida are showing off their skills in a tournament to honor two young lives that were cut short almost five years ago to the day.
Youth gathered Thursday for the fourth annual Stef’an Strawder Showcase Memorial, honoring both Stef’an Stawder and Sean Archilles, the two teens killed in the shooting at Club Blu in Fort Myers in 2016.
Middle school basketball players took to the court at Mariner High School in Cape Coral for the first of three games that will be played as part of the showcase.
The bleachers were packed with families of the players, family members of Sean and Stef’an and coaches who joined to scout player talent at the event.
It’s the fourth annual showcase, but the first tournament of its kind event was actually held a year before it became a memorial for Stef’an and Sean.
“Basically, Stef’an was worried about his size,” Lt. Sylvester Smalls explained. “I said, ‘We’ll put together a little game, and we can get you out there.’”
The event was put on, so players like Stef’an could showcase their talents to college coaches, hoping to make it to the next level.
“I told him, you know, ‘We can call it a moment, but let’s make it a movement,’” Smalls said.
Just weeks after the first event, Stef’an was shot and killed along with Sean.
“I’ve been here since the beginning,” said Keith White, Stef’an’s uncle. “I won’t miss them unless I’m not here anymore. I will be a part of keeping his legacy alive.”
White says his nephew’s legacy now lives on through the kids who compete.
“When smalls came to me with this idea, he didn’t know he was going to have that many kids graduate and then actually look back at him and say thank you,” White said.
The event, of course, also honors Sean, whose older brother, Dsean Archilles appeared at the showcase.
“I really do feel the love, and I really appreciate it,” Dsean said. “So that’s why I get more going.”
Dsean also hosted a camp in his brother’s memory this summer and already has plans for more. He told us he hopes to host another event in his brother’s name in December.
“Do it for them, mandatory. Know what I’m saying,” Dsean said. “Got to keep their name alive.”
Some of the organizers told us Stef’an would have graduated college in 2020. Some of his classmates he went to school with attended spoke during the event.
The shooting will have happened five years ago on the day this coming Sunday.
College coaches say this event really brings out the best in these players.
“It’s about the community,” said Jerald Ellis, the head coach of the FSW women’s basketball team. “It’s about the players, and it’s about the young people that aspire to be college players, or just aspire to go back and do what we’re doing, give back to the community one day themselves.”