On the night of Sept. 27, 2018, Damion Moore tagged Wayde Sims in an Instagram post. Sims never replied.
The next morning, Sims was shot and killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, following a fight outside a party.
“It was just so bad,” Moore, senior center, said. “I don’t know how to explain it. It was so bad. That was my best friend, so it was heartbreaking.”
Sims, a forward on Louisiana State University’s men’s basketball team, was 20 years old and about to start his junior season. Dyteon Simpson was arrested and charged with second-degree murder, The Advocate reported.
Moore and Sims played for the same Amateur Athletic Union team, the Louisiana Elite, starting in their sophomore year of high school.
This season, Moore changed his number to 44 to honor Sims, who wore the same number at LSU. Moore wore 23 in his first three years at Temple. Even though Sims’ death occurred before Temple started its 2018-19 season, Moore wanted to wait until his final year at Temple to change his number, he said.
“He’s just as caring and compassionate about people as Wayde was,” said Fay Sims, Wayde Sims’ mother. “It just shows how special Wayde was to Damion that he wanted to change his number.”
Moore woke up with a lot of text messages on the morning of Sims’ death and was initially confused about what happened. After reading a news article someone sent him, Moore started to cry, he said.
After finding out about Sims’ death, he just wanted to be by himself, Moore said. He watched old videos of himself and Sims to remember him.
Moore took a few days off from basketball after Sims’ death and attended his funeral in Baton Rouge with his AAU teammates.
“It’s just a wonderful thing when you get to meet back up with players that you played with,” said Herb McGee, a senior guard at the University of South Alabama, who played for the Louisiana Elite with Moore and Sims. “Obviously, it’s not wonderful meeting up the way we met up, but everything happens for a reason and God has a plan for everything that happens.”
Not only was Sims beloved by his AAU teammates, but he was also beloved by his teammates at LSU, Moore said.
“We never took anything personal when we wanted to talk to each other about how we played or anything,” Moore said. “We never judged each other. Everything was just on to the next game. Him as a person, he was just so loving and caring. That’s why so many people loved him down there in LSU.”
Moore has appeared in nine games this season, averaging 1.9 points per game and playing 8.1 minutes per game.
At first, it was tough for Moore to transition back to basketball after Sims’ death, but now he is not as hard on himself when he makes mistakes on the court, he said.
“You could tell I was frustrated with everything I did because I wanted to be perfect on the court for [Sims],” Moore said. “But now, I just take my time. Knowing me playing hard, playing physical, actually working and doing good on the court, I look up. There’s a lot of pictures of me just looking up and that’s who I’m talking to and thinking about. It’s an honor for real. If he was here today, I’d tell him how much I love him.”