Kevin Reyes meticulously selected his graduation outfit days before he was expected to walk across the stage at the University of Miami Watsco Center.
Reyes, a 20-year-old education major at Miami Dade College, planned to wear a white long sleeve dress shirt, navy pants and tan shoes to receive his associate in arts degree.
However, Reyes never got the chance to attend the ceremony.
On May 3 at 10 p.m.—ten hours before his graduation ceremony—Reyes was shot on the left side of his forehead during an armed robbery outside the first floor of the Glorieta Gardens Apartments, 13180 Port Said Rd., according to the Opa-Locka Police Department.
Reyes was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital. He spent the first day in a coma but, fortunately, the bullet did not hit a critical area of his head and he was released on May 6. He is expected to fully recover by the end of the month.
“I lost consciousness then came back. I was in and out,” Reyes said. “I can’t remember everything, but I remember most of it.”
Reyes recalls leaving his first-floor apartment to visit his brother on the second floor at around 9:30 p.m. Once he came back downstairs, a man attacked Reyes as he was opening his apartment. The assailant unsuccessfully attempted to snatch a bulky Jesus Christ medallion and Cuban link gold chain from his neck before forcefully ripping off a lighter Cuban link chain and shooting Reyes in the forehead.
Reyes described the robber as a young dark-skinned male with a black ski mask, a white tank top and light blue jeans.
The incident is currently an ongoing investigation, said Opa-Locka Police Chief James Dobson.
Reyes was born on Oct. 31, 1998. He has always felt a compelling passion for sports, mainly basketball.
“It kept me off the street and out of trouble,” Reyes said. “I live in a bad neighborhood. So, there’s nothing good. If you’re not playing ball, you’re doing bad stuff. That was my distraction.”
Reyes graduated from Miami Senior High School in 2017 and was captain of the men’s basketball team. He played with his teammates six hours a day, every day, during the season to prepare for games.
Until the shooting, Reyes had continued to play basketball every day with his friends at José Martí Park in Little Havana.
“He is a very close friend,” said Clemin Aliva. “I can’t believe someone would shoot my friend.”
Reyes began taking classes at the Wolfson and Eduardo J. Padrón Campuses in the fall of 2017.
“I wanted to start my career,” Reyes said. “I’ve always liked kids and being around them.”
He aspires to be a physical education teacher for high school students. Reyes has helped raise and take care of several of his nephews and nieces, further propelling his passion for working with kids.
Before the shooting, Reyes planned to begin his bachelor’s degree in education at MDC this summer. But because of the incident, he has been confined to bed rest for a month; he still gets headaches, chronic dizziness when he stands for too long and blurred vision throughout the day.
However, Reyes plans to continue his studies this fall.
“I feel like I was born that day again,” Reyes said. “Not a lot of people can live after getting shot in the head. I appreciate everything more. Everything. Just waking up, eating, having family members.”
If anyone has information about the shooting, they can contact Opa-Locka Police Chief James Dobson at (305) 681-1033. Reyes’ family has set up a GoFundMe account to help pay for his medical bills at: www.gofundme.com/jrae98-head.