SE Wisconsin soccer community remembers Gambian immigrant killed near Madison
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Several soccer communities in southeastern Wisconsin are mourning the loss of a talented player who many say was an even better man.
Kawsu Samba was shot and killed Monday in Middleton, outside Madison.
Samba was described as a hard-nosed, physical midfielder while on the pitch for UW Parkside. But those who knew him best said his inspirational story and his work ethic made more of a lasting impact than anything he did on the field.
Former teammate Miguel Lopez Varela said, "Samba was always a serviceable man. He was always hard-working, with a smile on his face."
UW Parkside Head Men's Soccer Coach Jason Litzke said, "We called it the 'Kawsu smile.' Every time you saw him, he had a huge smile on his face."
Former teammates and coaches say they're in shock after learning of Samba's death.
Samba was born in The Gambia in Western Africa. Soon after immigrating to the US, he earned a soccer scholarship to UW Parkside.
Friends there said he always made people feel welcome and part of the community.
Coach Litzke said, "On the field he was a hard-nosed player. Off the field he was very soft-spoken. Quiet sometimes."
Lopez Varela said, "His disposition to just be there and help and make a difference regardless of him being a star on the team or just another student athlete."
Samba worked at a car dealership in Middleton. He died Monday after he was shot, allegedly by 23-year-old Jakira Anderson, who was upset with a car she leased.
Samba's pregnant wife spoke directly to Anderson at her initial court appearance Wednesday.
"You didn’t only kill my husband, you murdered me too. He was the only one I had, and here I am right now. All I have is my unborn child."
Madison-area State Representative Samba Baldeh is also Gambian, and spoke highly of Kawsu. He said, "He was an excellent person. I know him, he was very active in the community, he was very well loved by his family members."
Kawsu was also a member of the Croatian Eagles Soccer Club in Franklin, driving in from Madison every weekend for games. They called him a fallen brother, and posted a tribute to #20 on social media.
One club member told us Kawsu's family will soon be arriving from The Gambia.
While funeral plans are being finalized, those who knew him best are mourning their friend.
Coach Litzke said, "He was one of the people that truly, in my life, I learned a lot more from him than he learned from me."
Lopez Varela said, "He made a big impact while I was there, so rest in peace, Samba, you will be missed."
Alleged shooter Jakira Anderson is charged with first-degree intentional homicide by use of a dangerous weapon and is being held in Dane County on a $1 million bond.
This Saturday, the Croatian Eagles plan to hold a memorial for Kawsu. It's scheduled to start at 2 p.m. at their clubhouse on S. 76th Street in Franklin.