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Irvine shooting victims shared a love of basketball

Monica Quan met her fiance, Keith Lawrence, at the courts at Concordia University. The couple were found shot to death Feb. 3 in the parking structure of their condo complex.

February 10, 2013|By Thomas Curwen and Frank Shyong, Los Angeles Times

If she was self-conscious about her height — 5 foot 6 — the point guard was never intimidated, confident in her role on the team. She knew how to anticipate plays and judge what the other players needed.

"She inspired many young women to play better, improve their game, play harder," said Monica's close friend, Antonia Caffey. "She inspired so many younger girls with how hard she worked."

Monica won a full scholarship to play basketball at Cal State Long Beach but transferred after two years to Concordia University, a Christian school in Irvine. She wanted more playing time and took courses to prepare herself to become a coach. Her first job was an assistant coach at Cal Lutheran.

Keith also ended up at Concordia for his final two years of school, where he studied business administration. He was one year behind Monica and first noticed her practicing on the court.

"There's a girl I'm always shooting with," he told his father one day. "She's really nice, but kind of private. I'm going to ask her out."

They started to date, and whenever friends talked about her, he would smile and grow quiet. At her college games, he got to know the Quans, who made a point of watching their daughter — as a player and as a coach.

After his graduation, Keith attended the sheriff's academy in Ventura; he did his field training with the Oxnard Police Department. His ambition was to work with youth, according to his training officer, Robert Valenzuela. He was able to realize that dream when he started working at USC last August.

The couple had their challenges. Friends says that Monica felt he might have loved basketball a little too much; she wanted him to stay focused on their future.

He wanted to make her happy and supported her as best as he could. Whenever they played pick-up games and were on the same team, said his best friend, Chris Merriweather, Keith -- who was also a point guard -- always fed her the ball.

"He told me that he wanted to get his career right," Keith's father said. "He wanted to present himself as the man she wanted him to be."

Keith and Monica were quiet about their life together, and their engagement came as a surprise to most who knew them. Keith initially planned to propose to her at a Nike store. He would buy her some shoes and pretend to drop something on the ground, then reach down and stand up with the ring. But his younger brother, Chris, told him it was a terrible idea.

He then decided to propose to her at home in Irvine. After getting advice from Monica's mother who knew her tastes, he had a ring specially made. That day, Monica's parents set up cameras to record the moment, and then left.

He scattered rose petals on the floor, he later told his father, and when Monica came home, Keith struck a romantic pose. He got down on a knee and asked her to marry him. She said yes.

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