Antonio Brown didn’t like confrontations.
He was respectful and kind – the type of easygoing kid that was able to make friends wherever he went.
And he was empathetic. He cared about his friends and the things that they might have been going through at home, and didn’t waste any time in seeking his grandmother’s input on what kind of advice he could offer to make their lives better.
The 15-year-old was tragically killed when a shot fired into a Manteca home on July 4 cut short his plans to make a difference in the lives of others as a surgeon.
His family will be holding a candlelight vigil in his honor on Friday, Aug. 7, at East Union High School where Dylan Antonio Brown – who went by his middle name – was an honor roll student.
“He didn’t let things get to him – he didn’t like to worry about things,” said Debra Brown, Antonio’s grandmother. “We’re a loud family – we’re Italian – and he’s the kind of person that would sit back and watch everybody smile.
“I think that people knew that he was special – that he had a good heart. They saw the good in him and the potential that he had. So he was respectful towards adults and people in general and they just gravitated towards him. It’s who he was.”
Details into the shooting are sparse – Brown was hanging out with his girlfriend at her home at the time of his killing, and conflicting reports are circulating as to the situation that led to the fatal shot being fired.
But his life, however short, still made an impact on the people he came into contact with.
When his grandparents opened up their home to friends and family members on the day of the funeral, more than 100 people filtered through to pay their respects.
People he knew from school came over and cried. Others stopped in to tell his family members how much they appreciated him as a friend and a human being.
One boy even went so far as to tell his grandmother that they had a falling out over a girl, but that he wished now that he wouldn’t have let somebody get between their friendship.
“He was a good-looking guy and girls loved him,” Debra Brown said with a laugh behind tears. “He had beautiful eyes and a wonderful smile and was able to make people feel comfortable. He didn’t look for attention – he wasn’t that kind of person.
“We had no idea the impact that he had on people until that day when we saw ourselves. We knew what he meant to us but to see that in so many other people – you don’t expect that.”
Brown played baseball at East Union High School and was going to be a sophomore. He attended elementary school in the East Bay, and started at McParland when he came to stay with his grandparents.
He loved sports – playing baseball for the Lancers and hoping to add track and field to his list of extracurricular activities. He boxed at the Richard Perez Gym on Main Street, and played CYO basketball at St. Anthony’s for years. And he liked video games and playing with friends.
Brown said that when “Tony” had concerns about things that may have been going on with friends in his life, he’d come to her and they’d talk – giving her a glimpse at how much he cared about the people around him and how he wanted to do whatever he could to make people feel comfortable and loved. That was just his nature, she said.
He wanted to be the protector.
“You don’t really ever think about something like this happens until it happens, and we realized then how much of an impact he had – we had so many people calling and coming over and sending cards,” Brown said. “We had an account setup online and people were giving that we didn’t even know. It was amazing to see how many people really cared.
“They came and gave their condolences and their strength to help us carry on and it was just beautiful.”
The vigil will be held on the corner of Union Road and Northgate Drive on Friday, Aug. 7, at 8 p.m. It is expected to last for one hour and the family is requesting that people wear white t-shirts and bring a candle. Those with photos of Antonio are also welcome to bring their own in his honor.