Accounts indicate Zaevion Dobson, a Knoxville, Tennessee, teen, died shielding three young girls from gunfire by gang members Thursday night, but words his family members and friends spoke to various media outlets show his heroics won't be forgotten.

Zenobia Dobson, Zaevion's mother, spoke about his actions and finding optimism despite "her baby's" death.

"It was an honor for my son to protect another individual," Dobson told CBS News.

Jaylin Posey - a friend of Zaevion's - also told CNN the 15-year-old's willingness to protect others proved inspiring, though "it was sad he had to give up his own life for it."

Zaevion's brother Zack, who was at the scene during the event, said he was in disbelief about what had happened.

"I picked him up, and I sat him in my arms, and I was shaking him, and I was like, 'I love you, wake up, I need you, wake up,'" CBS News quoted Zack as saying.

The girls Zaevion shielded from gunshots also spoke about his efforts.

"If it wasn't for Zaevion, if he would have just ran off the porch, we would have probably been shot," CNN quoted Kiara Rucker as saying.

None of the girls were injured.

Details provided by police indicated Zaevion, his brother and some friends were "just hanging out and trying to celebrate the holidays" when a group of men started shooting at them, the Daily Mail wrote. The shootings happened around 7 p.m., with the shooters firing multiple times and Zaevion shielding the girls, Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch said.

Rausch also remarked on Zaevion's sacrifice.

"I have a military background, that's the actions of heroes," Rausch told CBS News.

Among extracurriculars Zaevion participated in were football and being a mentor for an organization in Knoxville.

The teen's football coach, Rob Black, told Bleacher Report that Zaevion was "a very contagious young man who was very liked by his peers and his teachers." Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero called Zaevion "one of our success stories."

CBS News reported family and teammates plan to bury Zaevion the day after Christmas.

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