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Cardozo player’s slain dad remembered in St. Albans

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Tifford Gibbs-Field, a small forward on the Benjamin Cardozo HS basketball team, said farewell Sunday to his father, who was senselessly murdered last week in Maryland and had played for the same high school coach years ago.

With tears in their eyes members of the congregation at services for Tifford “Wayne” Fields at the Gilmore Funeral Home in St. Albans slowly walked to the podium to describe their memories of the devoted father and loyal friend.

With their voices cracking, each recounted how Fields affected and influenced their lives.

Fields, 36, a lifelong Jamaica resident who recently moved his family to Maryland, was killed Jan. 15 outside a west Baltimore restaurant as he tried to stop another man from stealing his new 1992 Lexus.

“Before today I was maintaining,” said Tifford Gibbs-Fields, 17, Fields’ oldest son, as he bit his lip and tried to hold back the tears. “But not now, just seeing him lying there like that.”

Basketball was one of Fields’ great loves and he played guard on the Bayside’s Benjamin Cardozo HS basketball team. His son, now a senior small forward at Cardozo, said it was very important for him to follow in his father’s footsteps and play basket for the Judges.

“It was my dream since I was a little boy — 5 years old,” Gibbs-Fields said. “I just wanted to play for Cardozo because my father played there. I knew I was going to go there.”

He described his father as a man who was always there for him in both praise and punishment.

One of his fondest memories of his father, he said, was being out on the basketball court as his father made him and his younger brother Trinity run drills because “practice makes perfect” and with practice “the better you get.”

As a true basketball lover, Fields would not miss any of his sons’ games and got the biggest kick out of seeing them play or reading about them in the paper. Even though, he had moved the family to Maryland and transferred a Maryland branch of Long Island Pipe Supply, where he was a truck driver, Fields returned to Queens every weekend to watch his son play ball.

Gibbs-Fields lived with his grandmother in Queens so he could finish high school in the borough

Police said as Fields and his wife Tracy, 35, were eating dinner in Root’s Unlimited Kitchen and waiting for Trinity, 11, to finish basketball practice, they saw a group of men standing around his car. When Fields got to the car, he found one of the men sitting in the driver’s seat and yanked him out. Someone then fatally shot him.

At the solemn and tearful standing-room only ceremony, which drew more than 200 people, family, friends and neighbors hugged, cried and laughed as they remembered Fields. And many could not comprehend why or how the person whom they loved so much could have been killed.

John Reina, Fields’ best friend and a fellow basketball junkie for the past 21 years, said the two of them were inseparable. Growing up, Fields stayed at his house when he got in trouble and he stayed at Fields’ house when he was in trouble.

“The relationship was beyond friendship, beyond brotherhood,” he said, at the funeral home at 191-02 Linden Blvd. entrance way as he rubbed his hands together trying to hold back the tears.

Reina said throughout the years the two constantly searched out ballgames and basketball tournaments. They won their share with Fields as a guard and Reina as a small forward.

“All our trophies are the same,” he said. “I went to John Bowne High School and he went to Cardozo. He is still upset at me because we beat them” a number of times.

He said his friend was a family man who adored his wife and children and would do any thing for them.

“It is terrible — Wayne was the youngest,” said his sister, Pamela Ivy, who described them as Bonnie and Clyde. “They just moved there and were very happy. He would sacrifice himself for his family. He had everything going for him.”

Ron Naclerio, the Cardozo basketball coach who coached father and son, said he was extremely upset by the murder.

Naclerio said when Gibbs-Fields started at Cardozo, his father “let me know his son was there, but never pushed me to put him on varsity or pushed me to give his son playing time.” He said Fields recently told him that he appreciated the way Naclerio had pushed him to succeed.

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

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