The story of Lakeisha Holloway that is being portrayed in the media is quite different from what the family of the Portland, Oregon woman knows and is saying about her.
Holloway, 24, is accused of plowing her 1996 Oldsmobile into a crowd of people on the Las Vegas Strip, near the Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, killing one and injuring 37 others. According to authorities, Holloway’s 3-year-old daughter was in the back seat. Prosecutors said Holloway will be charged with one count of murder with a deadly weapon, according to ABC News. Additionally, she may face multiple counts of attempted murder, child abuse and neglect and leaving the scene of an accident.
However, Holloway’s family knows her as an aspiring young woman and a role model. LaShay Hardaway, Lakeisha’s cousin, described her as an overachiever, telling the Los Angeles Times that Holloway spent long hours as a clothes designer in order to support her daughter. This year, Holloway filed paperwork in Oregon to start her own women’s clothing business, and changed her name to Paris Paradise Morton.
“She’s never been homeless,” Hardaway said in contrast to media and police accounts, also noting her cousin had worked consistently since the age of 16. “It sounds like we’re not even talking about her,” she said, adding that Holloway had a hotel room and had traveled to Las Vegas “to go and check out the economy, and some other things.”
As NBC News reported, Holloway was the recipient of an Education Credit Management Corp. scholarship in 2009. The ECMC Foundation said educators selected high school sophomores to receive the $4,000 scholarships. In addition, as the Oregon news site The Skanner reported in April 2012, Holloway was one of two recipients of the CARE Role model award, which was presented by the Portland Opportunities Industrial Center, a high school and career mentoring nonprofit that helps at-risk young people with education and career training. Business leaders from Intel, Nike and Oregon Live were present to give Holloway and her co-recipient a standing ovation at the event, which was emceed by former NBA point guard and coach, Michael Holton.
The Skanner did mention that Holloway, who was pursuing a career with the Forest Service, discussed being homeless as a high school freshman. She added that her mother had turned to alcohol and left Lakeisha to fend for herself, after struggling for years and losing hope trying to make it with an 8th Grade education.
“I would like to thank the Forest Service for sending me an application and taking a chance on me,” Holloway said. “And I’d like to thank POIC for the love and support and for being more than a program, for being a blessing.”
“Boy, have I come a long ways,” said Holloway in a 2012 POIC video. “Today, I am not the scared girl that I used to be. I am a mature young woman who has broken many generational cycles that those before me hadn’t”
She finished her freshman year of high school with a 1.41 GPA after her mother threw her out of the house, yet graduated from high school with a 3.40 GPA and $17,000 in scholarships. Holloway became the first in her immediate family to graduate from high school and attend college, and thanks to help from the nonprofit, landed a federal job at the age of 21.
Meanwhile, today, Lakeisha Holloway faces murder charges, and some extremists on social media have even dared to exploit this tragedy by claiming, without evidence, that she could be a Black Muslim terrorist. But one thing is for sure: Lakeisha Holloway had overcome adversity to become a success story, a role model with a bright future and a promising career.
We do not know the entirety of the circumstances, but one can only hope that we all learn to embrace the people around us, reach out to them and provide assistance and encouragement when they need it.