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.
On his 21st birthday, Shamir Gilmore did something unexpected. He gave his mother a gift as a symbol of his gratitude: An artificial purple rose — her favorite color — and said, “Thank you for giving me life.”
Almost a year later, Nicole Gilmore is still amazed at her son’s touching gesture.
“There’s not going to be another Shamir. He was an original,” she said. “He was different, really different.”
Mr. Gilmore loved hard, and he found joy in sending family and friends encouraging text messages with his signature catchphrase, “Da’ bien,” which he took to mean, “I’m good.”
It was such a part of him that his mother had “da’ bien” engraved on his headstone. Mr. Gilmore was shot April 1, 2021 in the 6300 block of Wister Street in East Germantown and died from his injuries at Albert Einstein Medical Center the following morning. Police have not made any arrests.
Mr. Gilmore was his mother’s first child, born in Philadelphia on July 15, 1999 when she was 21. They lived in West Oak Lane, then Germantown. After Shamir, she had two other sons, John and Nakale.
“When I had Shamir, everything just got so much better in my life,” she said. “He was a major blessing. He changed me.”
As a child, Mr. Gilmore was energetic and silly, and he loved to make people laugh. As an adult, he used jokes to defuse situations, and he channeled his humor into a standup comedy. His social media feeds show him posing for pictures with local comedians.
Boxing, which he started at 15, was another passion. When he was a teenager, he also began to work in construction, which his mother saw as a potential path to independence.
In 2016, when Mr. Gilmore was 17, one of his closest friends, Markeish Johnson, was fatally shot outside of his home in Germantown. That loss affected Mr. Gilmore deeply. On a tribute page for Johnson set up by a funeral home, he left dozens of messages for his friend over the years, updating him on his life milestones: getting his driver’s license, getting a job with the city, becoming a father.
Mr. Gilmore had attended Mastery Charter High School and worked a seasonal job at Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, which he was expecting to turn into a full-time role.
Family was important to him, and he had a sentimental side. He named his son Jyshon after his brother, who had died as an infant years earlier, and he routinely checked up on relatives and friends to share a supportive word.
“I couldn’t believe how many people said they’re not going to get their call or text every day,” Nicole Gilmore said. “This boy was making the rounds and I didn’t even know it.”
Nakale Gilmore, 14, described his older brother as reliable and loyal, and he remembers how Mr. Gilmore encouraged him to “keep striving for greatness,” he said.
Their other brother, John Williams, 18, recently graduated from high school. Mr. Gilmore would have been so proud, he said.
“He would send me texts every morning encouraging me to be better and to stay positive,” he said. “He was always there when we really needed him. There was no hesitation about it.”
Mr. Gilmore wanted to expand his role as a supportive presence to family and friends and turn it into a career. He was interested in being a mentor to young people and helping them live to their fullest potential.
Instead, his loved ones are holding the memories of his encouraging words in their hearts.
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 Mr. Gilmore’s death. Tips may be submitted anonymously to the Citizens Crime Commission at 215-546-TIPS.