A Mother’s Cry: Nykea Aldridge Family Speaks Out

Pastor Jolinda Wade and Diane Aldridge at prayer vigil for Nykea Aldridge in the Roseland community. Photo: Mary L. Datcher

Pastor Jolinda Wade and Diane Aldridge at prayer vigil for Nykea Aldridge in the Roseland community. Photo: Mary L. Datcher

Located in the Grand Crossing neighborhood, on King Drive South of 63rd St. is the Parkway Garden apartment complex.  Many Parkway Garden tenants are decent, working-class families who reside there because the rent fits into their affordable-housing budget.

The choices can be slim in a city that is steadily climbing in taxes, and low-income families are being pushed farther toward the suburbs. But it can also place many in harm’s way of the gang activity — terrorizing innocent tenants who feel trapped inside their apartments in order to avoid danger.

On August 29, a hot Friday afternoon, Nykea Aldridge, a mother of four, was leaving Dulles Elementary school where she finished registering  three kids — Summer, 12, Sincere, 10, and Shavae, 9 —  for the new school season.

As she pushed her infant daughter knowing the walk to their apartment building would be short, Nykea had no idea this would be her final time pushing her baby girl in her stroller.

Several bullets caught her in the middle of being the untended target.

The young woman fought for her life as she lay on the hot pavement with her newborn unharmed in her stroller.

The 32-year old mom who loved fashion had recently located to the neighborhood. As CPD arrived on the scene, word traveled fast that the victim was the relative of Chicago native and NBA player Dwyane Wade.

Immediately, the priority level of attention was set to high alert. The numbness that had begun to settle for Chicago residents was suddenly a sharp pain that ignited fire through our veins. Wade tweeted his anger for his first cousin’s murder with an ending hashtag — EnoughisEnough.

Mother of Nykea Aldridge, Diane Aldridge at prayer vigil for daughter.

Mother of Nykea Aldridge, Diane Aldridge at prayer vigil for daughter. Photo: Mary L. Datcher

Yes, enough is enough was hundreds of homicides ago.  The same thoughts that put the Wade family in the spotlight as his mom, Pastor Jolinda Wade, consoled her older sister, Diane Aldridge, Nykea’s mother — the pair stood in front of news cameras explaining their loss.  

The message that rang throughout the prayer vigil was the power of forgiveness.

Her family and friends were dressed in Aldridge’s favorite color: purple. Diane Aldridge stood at the podium and declared to the public that she forgave the killers of her daughter.

Two days after Nykea’s death, Darwin Sorrells Jr., 26, and Darren Sorrells, 22, were charged with first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder. Both were documented gang members and on parole for gun convictions.

Pastor Wade concurred with her sister’s decision.

“That’s a decision we chose to give — we don’t mean to be bitter. We don’t choose to be angry. We’re that way, we’re children of God and the word says, we’re supposed to forgive. We want to be obedient to that,” she said. “Plus, that wasn’t Nykea, she’ll flip you off and forgive you and we’re back together like that. That’s the spirit that comes from her mom.”

Fathers Step Up

The children’s fathers have stepped up in support and she is confident that she will not be alone in raising her grandchildren.

Photo: Mary L. Datcher

Photo: Mary L. Datcher

Pastor Wade adds, “The father of the children, they are Black men that stood up and came in. Nykea made sure that had a relationship with their fathers,” she said. 

“We all come in as a village. We know she’s going to have all the help moving forward. Nykea knew the kind of family that we are, so we’re knit together when we have to.” 

Diane Aldridge doesn’t want Nykea’s life forgotten and she said she is dedicated to making sure that her children will know how she tried to make a better life for them.

The sudden loss of their mom has especially been hard on the oldest children. “She loved her kids. Nykea was an awesome mom — trying to move ahead with the kids. She was just trying to make a better life for her and the kids — to make sure that they got out of situations that she had been in.”

As one of the leading faith leaders in Chicago’s African-American community, Pastor Wade understood when she delivered the eulogy at her niece’s homegoing services — it had to resonate beyond Nykea’s gravesite.

“When you come to the table, let’s come together. Everyone is coming but they’re coming in different pockets. No, let’s bring it together. We have things we can instill in our young people.”

A trust fund has been established for the children of Nykea Aldridge at Seaway National Bank located on 87th Street.

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