At age 17, Gervonte Taplin had much of his life mapped out. After graduating from high school, he would attend Southeastern Louisiana University, join its lacrosse team and study information technology to become a video game designer.
“He took initiative as far as education and his future,” his mother, Shatontalyn London said. “He did everything himself.”
Taplin was shot and killed on Christmas Eve in his home on Turret Drive off Millerville Road. His younger brother, age 10, was also injured in the shooting. The shooting happened early in the morning in the Avalon subdivision. It is not clear if there was forced entry into the home, according to the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office.
The agency has released few details about the killing.
His mother had just left the house for work when she received the call — she remembers — at 4:47 a.m.
A teenager was killed and his younger brother was injured in a Christmas Eve shooting off Millerville Road in Baton Rouge.
Taplin was one of 11 children, No. 6 in the lineup, making him the middle child in a big family, according to his mother. But, she said, despite being in the middle, he managed to hold the family together because he was likable and kind.
“He was the one everybody got along with,” London said. “He was the loving child.”
In addition to adopting the role of sibling mediator, Taplin was an avid athlete who spent his days playing football and lacrosse. His mother said he transferred from Capitol High School to Broadmoor High School but continued to play with the Capitol club team.
Taplin fell in love with lacrosse by accident, his mother said. She had brought him with her to pick up his brother from his lacrosse practice, and one of the coaches asked Taplin if he would join the team.
Beyond his love of sports (his mother says he was a big fan of Auburn University’s lacrosse team), Taplin was a responsible and engaged student. He had already started taking coding classes the previous summer, earning a certificate.
London said he loved school and cared about doing well in his classes, laughing as she recalled him dragging her to Southeastern’s campus to learn more about attending classes and joining different teams.
“Me and my other sons were talking about school and I was joking with them today,” she said. “He was the one, if they had a PTA meeting, open house or conference, he’s texting, ‘Momma, don’t forget about the conference.’ He always wanted you to be around.”
London said everyone in the family is taking his death hard, particularly because Taplin was the child who would always show affection and want to be present with the family.
“He was his momma’s keeper,” she said. “That was the child I was expecting to take care of me when I get old. I knew that he would have my back 100%.”
Now, London is working on staying strong in front of her children as she waits for the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office to pass on information involving her son’s case. The younger brother injured had surgery and was released from a hospital on Christmas Day, London said.