More than a hundred people gathered at East Nashville Magnet Middle School to honor Keyvonte Cunningham, a 13-year-old who drowned last week while swimming at Cummins Falls in Jackson County.
Cunningham was trying to help his friend D'donta Gray as he struggled in a strong current. They both died.
"One thing I can truly say about him is that he's a hero. I give my debt to that dude because he did not die as the victim, he died as the hero, trying to save somebody's life," said Gabriel Huchinson, who ran on the school track team with Cunningham.
Joi Rodgers was a close friend; they grew up together in the same church, volunteering as ushers and serving on a praise dance team.
"He meant so much to me, it's hard to see him go," Rogers said.
Dozens of balloons were released to the sky after a prayer.
"I think he would love it. He would be very happy that we think of him as a good friend," said Lakiyrah Holt, a friend of Cunningham's.
"It means a lot to me. It means that my son was loved by the community. He was doing what God wanted him to do. He was a loving and caring guy," Adkinson said.
Cunningham's funeral is Saturday.
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