Sean ‘Nitty’ Reese, owner of Secrets Night Club, remembered

Passed away after shooting in Homewood on May 31

by Rob Taylor Jr.
Courier Staff Writer

Very few people knew about the time Sean “Nitty” Reese saw a kid walking outside during Pittsburgh’s cold days without a coat, and Reese stopping and giving the kid a spare coat he had in his car.

Very few people knew about the young African American kids who looked up to him, and when they asked him for money, he said, “You have to earn it,” and bought the kids a cooler and water bottles, and the kids would sell the bottles to residents for income.

Reese, a 2003 Perry Traditional Academy graduate, would have turned 35 last Wednesday, July 8. Instead, his life was cut short due to what one person told the New Pittsburgh Courier was a “very unnecessary” disagreement, which led to a shooting at a Homewood block party, early Sunday, May 31.

The shooting killed Reese, who was the owner of Secrets Night Club in Homewood, on Kelly Street.

To many of the millennial generation, Secrets Night Club was a welcome sight. To Reese, it was his one of his primary passions.

Taronda Brown and Ondii Gray, with two of Sean Reese’s children, Khloe Brown Reese and DeMonie Graham Reese.

“When Sean told me he wanted to open up Secrets, we made flyers, and he had me drive (him) all over the city.

Every single person, he put a flyer in their hand, he had a personal conversation with them, and all of those people showed up,” said his longtime girlfriend, Taronda Brown, in an exclusive interview with the Courier.
“Before Secrets, no one wanted to come to Homewood.”

SEAN “NITTY” REESE, in this photo with his longtime girlfriend, Taronda Brown.

And before Secrets, football was Reese’s true passion. Reese was recognized as one of the top defensive players in the City League at Perry. A defensive end/tight end, he was part of a Perry powerhouse—the Commodores won City League titles in football six consecutive years, beginning with the 2000-2001 season.

After Perry, Reese played football for Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

The 6’3” Reese could be seen mentoring youth around town, working in construction (specializing in masonry), and was also a family intervention and prevention specialist for the Community Empowerment Association in Homewood.

“He was committed to using his innovative spirit, people skills, talents and resources for improving the quality of life for himself, his family and community,” Reese’s obituary read, obtained by the Courier.

SEAN “NITTY” REESE, in this photo with his mother, Ondii Gray. Reese was 34 years old.

“Sean was special, he was definitely special,” said his mother, Ondii Gray, in an exclusive interview with the Courier’s J.L. Martello. “I knew that Sean was destined for something great. I just felt it, even then.”

Gray said she decided, after having Reese at age 16, that “I was only going to have one child because I needed to give Sean my all. I felt that is what he needed.”

Gray said she put her all into raising Reese. “I told Sean to be the best at whatever he does, and to do it well. I always told him that he needed to give back to the community because the community gave to him, and to always treat people good.”

Gray told the Courier that somehow, Reese would find a way to forgive those who had done him wrong.

Ondii Gray

“We don’t always know if our children are going to do what we say, but after this, after Sean’s death, I realized that he was doing everything and more than what I taught him to do,” she said. “I understand now what God’s purpose was, why he was here. He was here to touch people’s lives.”

Reese’s best friend was also his longtime girlfriend, Brown. Brown told the Courier that she had known Reese for 11 years, and witnessed his entrepreneurial, go-getter spirit. Sometimes, there would be times that wouldn’t go so well for Reese, but Brown said she always encouraged him to persevere. She used to tell Reese that even “if he had to live in a cardboard box,” she would live right there with him, and together, they would make a way.


Reese is survived by, among others, his mother, his father (Melvin Reese III), Michael A. Mullen Sr., and Brown. Reese is the father of daughters DeMonie Graham Reese and Khloe Brown Reese, and a son, Rhoyal Reese.

Reese’s mother, Gray, said that when she hears the phrase “Black Lives Matter,” she wants everyone to understand that it goes for Black-on-Black crime as well. “God didn’t create us to kill one another,” she said.
Pittsburgh Police don’t have any suspects in custody in the deadly shooting, which also sent three others to the hospital.

“I’m so mad…sometimes I just feel like if it wasn’t for my grandkids, I probably wouldn’t even want to go on anymore, because he was my life,” Gray told the Courier. “He was my only child, and I put my all into him.”

FAMILY AND FRIENDS remember Sean Reese, who died in a shooting in Homewwod, May 31. (Photos by Courier Photographer J.L. Martello)

FAMILY AND FRIENDS remember Sean Reese, who died in a shooting in Homewwod, May 31. (Photos by Courier Photographer J.L. Martello)



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