LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Tyree Smith would have been 17 years old on Monday, but the teen was shot and killed waiting at the bus stop four months ago.
His friends and family gathered at the intersection where he was shot in September to light candles and honor his life Monday night.
His aunt, Sharonda Smith, put finishing touches on the renewed memorial at the intersection of Chestnut St. and Dr. W.J. Hodge St.
"He's not here but he was loved when he was here," Smith said. "He is still loved now."
Tyree's mom, Sherita Smith, stood alongside her sisters in a celebration that almost didn't happen.
"At first, I planned it but then I said, 'No, I'm not going to do that,'" she explained. "I know it's something he would want us to do. We got to celebrate his life, he was a happy person."
Sherita Smith also told WHAS11 News she was thankful for LMPD's homicide unit and the arrests they made in December. Two 16-year-old JCPS students were charged with complicity to murder. Since they're juveniles, the legal process is hard to follow.
But, the Smiths said, progress is being made.
"I just wish they had turned to God instead of turning to guns," Sherita said.
But Monday was not about them. Jan. 24 is Tyree's day.
The would-be-17-year-old was remembered through smiles and similarities.
"We has so much stuff in common, it's pitiful," Sherita said, laughing with Tyree's three aunts around her. "We don't like cheese, we don't like chocolate cake. We're people persons, ya know? We just smile, we'd rather be happy."
As sputtering rain put out the candles at Tyree's memorial, Sharonda found peace in another bittersweet similarity. "It was raining on the day that it happened and there's a saying, 'When there is rain, heaven has gained an angel.'"
Community members also gathered to honor him the day after he was killed.
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