Family, friends celebrate Stanley Freeman Jr.’s 17th birthday with balloon release

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — May 21 marks what would have been Stanley Freeman Jr.’s 17th birthday. Family and friends gathered at his gravesite to honor him with a balloon release.

The teen was shot and killed in February while leaving school to head to work. He is one of five students from Austin- East Magnet High School who have died in shootings this year.

His family and the community are still mourning his sudden loss.

“He just meant a lot to me and I just hate it that I lost my oldest brother,” said Stanziyae Kyle, Stanley’s sister.

“Stanley was like a son. Just a great kid. And he had his goals and he had his dreams and he knew what path he wanted to go down,” said Nathan Guy, Stanley’s basketball coach.

This year, their gift to Stanley is making sure his name lives on forever, while also spreading a message about gun violence.

“He was an innocent life and he didn’t deserve anything that happened to him. Something like that shouldn’t happen to somebody like Stan,” said Kiaya Ballinger, Stanley’s oldest sister. “This shouldn’t even be anything that’s happening. Especially to my brother or any of our family members. We shouldn’t even be here right now. We was supposed to be celebrating him. So for him not to even come to his 17th birthday, it should bring awareness to the community that this is a problem.”

A month after the shooting, two teens were arrested in connection to the shooting death of Stanley Freeman Jr.

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