IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Too Young to Die: Gage Wilkinson

The 12-year-old liked to make S'mores with his sister until the early morning hours.

"If he could sleep with his dirt bike, he would," Missie Wilkinson said about her son.

By his fifth birthday, Gage Wilkinson owned his first dirt bike. After an hour of riding, he removed the training wheels. He played football and baseball for five years before dedicating his time to extreme sports.

Gage, 12, was a seventh-grader at Dayton Intermediate School in his hometown of Dayton, Nev. On days when he didn't have school, Gage rode his dirt bike from sunrise to sunset, periodically checking in with his parents and asking for gas money. When he returned, he was covered in dirt "from head to toe."

"When he took his shower you had to clean the tub out," his mother told msnbc. "That was an OK thing because he was doing what he was supposed to do: he was being a boy." The family's front yard was missing grass because Gage and his friends built dirt ramps and rode around the area. He hoped to start racing his dirt bike as an amateur this summer; eventually he wanted to participate in ESPN's X Games. "He made me nervous a bunch," his father, Mike Wilkinson, told msnbc.

While he rode, he searched for rocks to add to his collection, which he'd started when he was 3.

Gage liked to make S'mores on the kitchen stove with his older sister until the early morning hours. He had a big heart. One Christmas he asked his parents to buy presents for his friend whose family was struggling financially.

Gage was shot and killed in a hallway at a friend's home in Dayton on May 19. The investigation is ongoing.

More children's stories>