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Latoya Wright, a North Philadelphia mother of four with a ‘gigantic’ personality, dies at 37

“She was different, always dancing, and she was really funny,” her sister said. “At her house, you’re guaranteed to laugh and you’re guaranteed to dance.”

Editor’s note: This obituary is presented in partnership with The Philadelphia Obituary Project, a nonprofit committed to memorializing city victims of homicide whose deaths have otherwise been overlooked.

Everyone who went to Latoya Wright’s house in North Philadelphia knew they were in for a good time. Her home served as a gathering spot for family, especially around the holidays, where the music was always blasting and Ms. Wright was the center of attention.

“My sister was the main entertainment. She had a gigantic personality,” Ms. Wright’s sister Porsche Wright, said. Guests grooved to Latoya Wright’s go-to playlist, which included Latto, Three 6 Mafia, Future, and Silk Sonic, as they sipped Olde English.

“She was different, always dancing, and she was really funny,” her sister said. “At her house, you’re guaranteed to laugh and you’re guaranteed to dance.”

The family experienced a major loss Oct. 8, 2020, when their brother Ammron Hargrove was fatally shot in Frankford. Hargrove had relocated to South Carolina and was in Philly to attend a friend’s funeral. He was 29, a father of two, and had worked as a preschool teacher at Methodist Services. Police made an arrest; Hargrove was not thought to be the intended target.

Porsche Wright noticed a shift in her sister as she and the rest of the family did their best to heal. The siblings grew even closer after Hargrove was killed, and they became intentional about creating good memories.

But Ms. Wright felt a pull to leave the city after losing Hargrove.

“She had some money saved up and she was saving and saving and saving,” her sister said. “In order for her to heal, she had to leave.”

The family planned to have a balloon release for Hargrove on Oct. 8, 2021, to mark one year since his murder, but it would not happen.

Around 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 6, Ms. Wright was struck by a stray bullet on North 28th Street near Cecil B. Moore Avenue and pronounced dead that afternoon. She was 37 years old.

“They died 363 days apart,” her sister said. “They were both bystanders, which makes it even worse. They were in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Ms. Wright was born Jan. 16, 1984, in Philadelphia to Wanda Burton and Willie Brantley and was raised by her mother and stepfather, Eric Hargrove. In addition to her brother and sister, Ms. Wright had two other siblings, Shaquon and Caprice, and step-siblings Tiera, Eric, and Erica.

Ms. Wright grew up in Strawberry Mansion, where she attended Frederick Douglass Elementary, at 22nd and Norris, and Strawberry Mansion High School.

Ms. Wright was a mother of four; her children are 19, 16, 12, and 10.

In July 2015, Ms. Wright was featured in an Inquirer article about a new 12-unit affordable-living development built by the Philadelphia Housing Authority at 2800 Oakdale St. in Strawberry Mansion. After being on the waiting list for affordable housing for years, she was approved to live in one of the units, where she resided until her death.

Family was Ms. Wright’s top priority: She was a full-time mother as well as her mother’s caretaker. But she never missed an opportunity to have fun, such as when she and her sister went zip-lining in Fairmount Park.

Ms. Wright loved to cook, especially steak and baked mac and cheese. Her sister told a story about how one day Ms. Wright went over to her house with a large tray of ribs. The ribs fell onto her lap and onto the street as she was getting out of the car, but she still insisted the food was OK to eat.

“She picks up the ribs and says: ‘You can still eat them! They’re still good!’” her sister recalled while laughing. “She warmed them up in the microwave, and as she was taking them out, they fell again!”

Ms. Wright would want to be remembered as a fun-loving person who played hard and loved even harder.

A reward of up to $20,000 is available to anyone who comes forward with information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for Latoya Wright’s murder. Anonymous calls can be submitted by calling the Citizens Crime Commission at 215-546-TIPS.

Resources are available for people and communities that have endured gun violence in Philadelphia. Click here for more information.