The widow of a slain Capital Gazette journalist honored his legacy by finishing the book he was working on when he was killed last year.
Veteran sports reporter John McNamara was one of the five people killed in the Annapolis newsroom shooting in June 2018. He was writing “The Capital of Basketball: A History of DC Area High School Basketball” at the time.
His widow, Andrea Chamblee, picked up the project and found some solace in completing it.
“It was a chance to think about something else than my life without John and my quiet dark house," she said.
David Elfin helped Chamblee finish it.
“She has been an absolute bulldog on this project,” he said. “She has kept it alive, found a publisher."
Elfin had worked with McNamara before.
“When you've lost a friend and you're working from his, it's not your typical project," he said.
Capital Gazette employees McNamara, Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters died after a gunman stormed into their newsroom in Annapolis and opened fire on June 28, 2018.
Police found Ramos hiding under a desk. Police said he targeted workers — in one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in the United States — after they published an article in 2011 about criminal harassment to which he had pleaded guilty.
Chamblee learned of her husband's encyclopedic knowledge of local high school sports when she found a box among his things.
"There was one box with a file that said ‘photos I want to use,’ and there were 178 photos in there without the captions because John knew who they were," she said.
“The Capital of Basketball” is filled with pictures and memories of a half century of high school basketball in D.C.
“The D.C. area has produced more NBA'ers and hall of famers than any other city in the world," Chamblee said.
But it was more than just a game for the high school standouts who found themselves shut out of professional playing and coaching opportunities.
“What those accomplished athletes did was they taught in D.C.-area schools instead, and they became coaches and they mentored these young men," Chamblee said.
Suspect Jarrod Ramos pleaded guilty last week after previously pleading not guilty and not criminally responsible, in Maryland's version of an insanity defense. A jury still will determine whether he was responsible for his actions because of the insanity defense claims.
In a way, Chamblee finds relief in that.
“I don’t have to turn around from this bittersweet moment to reliving the horrible stories that are coming out of the trial," she said.