CEDAR RAPIDS — Former Cedar Rapids Washington High School basketball player Latasha Roundtree, who was fatally shot this weekend, was remembered Sunday for her passion and her potential.
Roundtree, 19, was shot around 10 p.m. Saturday in the 600 block of 16th Avenue SW. Police said she was treated at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids before being taken to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, where she died just after 3 a.m. Sunday.
Investigators are treating her death as a homicide, and no arrests had been reported by last night.
Washington girls’ basketball coach Frank Howell fondly recalled his former player, who was known as Tasha or Tasha Mac.
“She had one of the most energetic and warm smiles that you’re ever going to see,” he said. “She played with passion on both ends of the floor.”
Howell had high hopes for Roundtree’s future. Last year, as a senior and the team’s starting point guard, she averaged nine points and five assists per game before tearing her anterior cruciate ligament in a regional final loss to Iowa City High.
She’d accepted an offer to play basketball at William Penn University in Oskaloosa, where she was going to red-shirt this season, but Howell said she had recently returned to Cedar Rapids.
“I don’t know if she had the patience to sit out the year,” he said.
Her decision to leave the university disappointed both Howell and Washington Principal Ralph Plagman.
“Tasha had a lot of potential,” Plagman said. “She was a very gifted athlete and had a wonderful personality.”
Plagman said school administrators wanted desperately to see Roundtree succeed, and many teachers treated her like family. He said his staff knew she didn’t have an easy upbringing: Her mother, Angelia Roundtree, died in July 2006 when one of two cars drag racing along Mount Vernon Road crashed into her vehicle.
Tasha Roundtree “could have gone on to do great things,” Plagman said. “Unfortunately, she faced many obstacles in her life.”
On Sunday, news of Roundtree’s death spread quickly across social media sites, including Twitter and Facebook. Former teammates and classmates posted comments remembering her as a free spirit with a goofy personality. One writer said she wished they could play basketball together one last time.
Hundreds of friends, classmates and teachers and some relatives held a candlelight prayer vigil last night at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 14th Street SW. Friends passed around a basketball to sign in Roundtree’s memory.
Howell said many people loved and respected Roundtree.
“So many people believed in her,” the coach said. “I still don’t know if it’s completely hit me at all, to tell you the truth.”