All Alicia Mahdi has left of her son, Kevin Barbee, is memories.
"The last time I saw him, he told me he loves me," she said. "I'm glad I got to see him, and I'm glad we left with him saying, 'I love you, mom.'"
On Friday, the family of the 15-year-old McGavock High School student sat down before a select group of local journalists, just three days after his death.
According to Metro police, Kevin was visiting with friends Tuesday night at the Burning Tree Apartments in Hermitage. At some point, a gun was brought into play, and Kevin was shot in the face.
The family decided to speak out, not about how Kevin died, but how he lived.
"We were at World Market, and a lady was struggling with her package, and he ran up to the lady to help her put her package in the back of the car," Mahdi recalled. "That's the last good memory I had of him."
"He just cared about people and family," Kevin's father, Kedrin Barbee, said. "His whole thing was, 'What I am I going to do when I grow up to help people?'"
To those closest to him, Kevin was a jokester who was serious about what he wanted to do with his life. He enjoyed cooking breakfast, but couldn't pass up Rotel dip or pizza. He stood up to bullies and always looked out for others.
His father, who was also his best friend, was often at a loss for words before the media cameras gathered Friday, but both parents said there are lessons to be learned from their son's death.
"These kids are playing with guns and posting pictures on Facebook like it's fun, and it's not," Mahdi said.
"I want people to come together and know that, 'I got your back. You got my back. I'm going to watch out for your child. You watch out for my child. No matter what.' That's what we're missing," she said.
Barbee added, "As parents, we have to sit and listen to our children. Not just talk to 'em."
On Thursday, President Obama visited Kevin's school as scheduled with the blessing of Kevin's family. Before he addressed the crowd, he met with the family to offer condolences.
When asked what was shared between them, Kevin's mom couldn't recall.
"I haven't ate. I haven't really slept, so like my mind is going 1,000 miles a minute," she said. "Meeting him was overwhelming."
Despite being overwhelmed by the events of the last few days, Kevin's family decided to come forward to show death at a young age is not glamorous.
"This is permanent. We're destroyed. My life will never be the same," Mahdi said through tears.
She continued, "In the midst of all of this, I have to speak out. I have to save your son. I have to save any of these kids out here. It's going to get worse if we don't stand up!"
While the family did not want to comment on the investigation surrounding Kevin's death, his mother told Nashville's News 2 her heart goes out the family of the accused gunman, 17-year-old Kaemon Robinson.
A memorial service for Kevin Barbee will be held Tuesday, February 4 at The River Church located at 224 Stewarts Ferry Pike in Nashville.
A public visitation is set for 9 to 10:30 a.m. with the service beginning at 11 a.m.
The family is also accepting donations to help with unexpected medical and final expenses.
Donations are being accepted at The River Church or through the church's Web site, TheRiverNashville.com.
1306 N. Broadway NE Knoxville,
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