It was like father, like son; Ladarian T. Phillips even had customized T-shirts to prove it.
Being a father to his 18-month old son, Ladarian Jr., was his proudest accomplishment. Phillips, 30, dreamed of teaching him how to pitch a softball and seeing him graduate. He was teaching the toddler how to dance. The duo often wore matching outfits.
“Now he won’t get to see his son grow up,” said Laporshia Phillips, his younger sister. “That little boy changed his world, and now his death is changing his son’s.”
Phillips was one of two men killed over the Memorial Day weekend over what started off as an argument about a parking spot on South Beach. That shooting led to a police chase and another man being killed, this time by Miami Beach police. The shootings marked an abrupt turn for Urban Beach Weekend, which in recent years has been comparatively calm.
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Police said Phillips was shot and killed by Jeffery Alexander, 19, who was visiting from New York.
Phillips was standing on Second Street and Ocean Drive with a friend when he saw a white BMW hit his friend’s gold Buick several times while trying to park. Phillips and his friend crossed the street and asked the driver how many times he was going to hit the car, starting an argument with the driver and Alexander, a passenger in the BMW. The driver handed a gun to Alexander, who fired two to three rounds before fleeing, police said.
Phillips was shot in the back and died. His friend, who was shot in the leg, survived. Alexander was arrested and charged with second-degree murder and attempted murder.
The BMW ultimately crashed with cop cars. One of its occupants was shot and killed by two Miami Beach police officers.
“What police say sounds about right,” said Laporshia Phillips, 28. “He was a peacemaker, always stood up for others, even if it didn’t concern him.”
Phillips was born and raised in Homestead. He attended A.L. Lewis Elementary School, Campbell Drive Middle School and Coral Shores High School in Tavernier in the Florida Keys. The man loved softball, especially playing with his father, who lives in the Keys. He worked as a security guard at a nightclub in Key Largo and often worked construction during the day.
But Phillips had run-ins with the law as well. In the last 11 years, he was arrested 14 times, usually on charges of habitually driving with a suspended license. About half of them were dropped. But twice, in 2013 and 2010, he was convicted of aggravated assault.
Despite his background, Phillips’ family said his son gave him a new start from a troubled past.
“That boy was the game-changer,” Laporshia Phillips said. “He changed everything.”