A broken-hearted mother, Shirl Baker, walked across the stage at Belmont University today to accept the college degree that her daughter DeEbony Groves worked so hard to earn before she was gunned down in a Nashville Waffle House, CNN reports.
Groves was a student at the school and an avid basketball player who studied social work. She was weeks away from graduation before the tragic shooting that claimed her life.
“Almost two weeks ago, our community suffered an unimaginable loss,” said Robert Fisher, President of Belmont University. “While our hearts were broken, today we have the chance to celebrate DeEbony’s life together.”
In honoring Groves with a social work scholarship in her name, Fisher said “her legacy will live on” through the scholarship which will “provide financial support and encouragement to generations of social work majors at Belmont University.”
Groves brother Di’Angelo, was supposed to march across the stage with his sister. Teary-eyed he accepted his diploma too and he and his mom received s standing ovation from the audience.
“She was a brilliant young lady, very intelligent and a very hard worker,” said Gallatin High School coach Kim Kendrick, according to the Tennessean. “She was a very likable young lady. She was one of three seniors on her team, and she was a great role model for the other players because of her hard work and dedication to her studies and to her school.”
A life cut short by a mass shooter
Travis Reinking sat in his pickup truck outside of a Nashville Waffle House and cased it before taking his AR-15 rifle and gunning down four people before he was stopped by James Shaw Jr. Groves’ close friend Akilah DaSilva also died in the attack.
Belmont University released a statement saying:
“The entire campus community is shocked and devastated by how such senseless violence has taken the life of this young woman, an individual full of immense potential,” the university said in a statement released through its communications department.
“We extend our thoughts and prayers to her family and friends as they come to terms with unimaginable grief.”
Groves was 21 years old.