Jalisa Goodman made progress, slowly, since she was paralyzed in an accidental shooting in 2010 in the Kensington-Bailey neighborhood.
She was taking BOCES classes while living and undergoing physical therapy at the Baker Victory long-term care facility in Lackawanna.
"Though she couldn't speak, she seemed to be acknowledging us and our comments to her through facial movements," said her aunt, Monica Morrell. "She had been fine with us on Easter."
But things changed last Wednesday, when the 15-year-old died unexpectedly of complications from the shooting after being taken to Women & Children's Hospital for a routine medical examination.
Jalisa's family has spent the past several days preparing for a memorial service this week at True Bethel Baptist Church.
It's been a somber end to the promising young life of a former cheerleader for the Buffalo Wolverines and member of the Gospel Deliverance drill team.
The tragedy began early Oct. 31, 2010, while Jalisa, then 13, was talking on the phone in one room of a Bickford Avenue home while a group of people gathered in another room started playing with a .38-caliber handgun.
A shot rang out. A bullet passed through a wall and hit Jalisa, who was standing on the other side. The bullet lodged near her spine.
Greyler Williams, then 22, of Depew, who had been smoking pot with friends before he handled the gun, turned himself in a week later. He pleaded guilty to an assault charge and was sentenced last April to seven years in state prison.
During Williams' sentencing, Tiera Goodman, Jalisa's now-24-year-old sister, told State Supreme Court Judge Penny Wolfgang that her sister seemed to be "slowly progressing," though she was facing at least a fourth round of surgery as doctors labored to remove bullet fragments from her neck.
"We don't know if she's ever [going to be] able to come home," Goodman said.
After the shooting, Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown decried the incident..
A wake for Jalisa will be held from 10 to 11 a.m. Wednesday in True Bethel Baptist Church, 907 E. Ferry St., with a memorial service at the church to follow at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
In addition to her aunt and sister, the teen is survived by her mother, Dawn Mack; her father, Joseph Goodman; her grandmothers, Mary King and Ella Ervin; two other sisters, Jonar and Joslyn; and three brothers, Joseph, Far-D and Jamar.