OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - The city of Oakland is putting up new welcome signs as people drive into the city. The signs have the message "Love Life," which came out of the pain and persistence of one Oakland father who lost a child.
On a stretch of sidewalk in Oakland, ordinary pavement became a place of prayer Friday night.
Family and friends gathered to remember LoEsha Lacy who was 16 when she was shot and killed across the street from her high school at the corner of 26th and Myrtle on October 20, 1997.
Donald Lacy, her father, remembers hearing how his daughter was caught in the crossfire of bullets never meant for her.
"She would have been 36 and I know she would have had children. I would have had grandchildren," said Lacy.
Her childhood friends are now grown women with children of their own. They joined hands in support of each other.
"I couldn't believe it. I was crying,” said Porshia Lewis while recalling the loss of her friend. “I went to the hospital and when I got there they said that she was gone. So it was really rough. I was 16, she was 16.”
Tanisha Silas says she might have been shot too that night. Lacy had planned to use her first paycheck from McDonald's to treat Silas to a movie. But at the last minute, Silas mother said she couldn't go.
"Whenever she walked into the room she was just full of life and made everybody smile,” Silas said. “She was a happy person.”
From grief, Donald Lacy said he started the Love Life Foundation, an idea that his daughter had shared with him just months before she was shot.
"A friend of hers was killed and she said she wanted to start an organization to speak out against violence," Lacy said.
Her father has tried to keep her spirit and love of life going through the foundation.
This week, the city of Oakland embraced the words "Love life" as a city motto.
New welcome to Oakland signs are being installed and some were unveiled Monday along Durant and Bancroft avenues.
They are a reminder of LoEsha Lay, who was named at birth for her love of life.
"On the way to Highland Hospital, she came out in the car," said Donald Lacy. "I figured she was so eager for life that I gave her the name LoEsha, which is Ibo and Nigerian combined, and means love life."
A young girl's legacy is now living on as a reminder that for every life lost to darkness others continue to shine.
"Hopefully people will begin respecting and loving each other as opposed to disrespecting and committing violence on each other," said Lacy.
There was one person who confessed to the crime. Donald Lacy says he has found a way to forgive the shooter.
The family is asking that the public hold a moment of silence at noon Monday in memory of LoEsha Lacy.