Bills' Shaq Lawson to pay for slain 11-year-old's funeral

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  • By Grant Gordon NFL.com
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Upon a South Carolina summer night, Ja'Naiya Scott sat on her family couch, joined by her older sister and cousin.

Weeks earlier, she had moved on from Whitehall Elementary and was looking ahead to her time at Robert Anderson Middle School -- along with the rest of her life.

More than 35 shots interrupted the late night/early morning hours, injuring and hospitalizing her sister and cousin and, tragically, ending 11-year-old Ja'Naiya's life.

The tragedy, which occurred around 1:30 a.m. Sunday in the town of Anderson, hit home with Buffalo Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson in more ways than one.

"It could have been my little sister," Lawson said Wednesday via The Greenville News. "I've got a little sister around that age, and it could have been one of my family members."

In the aftermath of Ja'Naiya's murder, Lawson has pledged to pay for the funeral.

A three-season veteran with the Bills, Lawson grew up in South Carolina, attending D.W. Daniel High before playing at Clemson.

Lawson reportedly reached out to speak with Marshella Rice, Ja'Naiya's mother.

"I know her heart was hurting," Lawson said. "I was so speechless I couldn't saying anything. I felt for her pain. I felt the pain, too. I felt like any way I could possibly help out, I was going to do that. It hit my heart."

Struck by a bullet in her right shoulder, Ja'Naiya's subclavian artery was severed and she died in the emergency room.

An unknown assailant fired off the shots and no charges have been filed with no suspects having been named.

"Whoever did this needs to come forward and tell the truth," Lawson said. "And whoever's hiding, it's wrong that you're hiding. This is a little girl who is gone. It's just pointless killing people -- killing an innocent child. She was at home, a place she was supposed to be safe."

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