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Too Young to Die: Marty Kent

The 17-year-old family man often initiated daily phone calls with his older siblings.

The phrase "family man" usually conjures the image of someone middle-aged. Marty Kent was a 17-year-old family man. He once found $60 on the sidewalk and gave it to his nieces to split instead of initially taking a share for himself. Last year on Christmas, Marty invited his girlfriend and two friends to his family's celebration. But he also set aside time to spend with his parents and siblings. "Even though he was a teenager, he wasn’t too cool for family," his sister, Robin Jones, told

Marty, the eighth of nine children, often babysat some of his 15 nieces and nephews for an entire weekend, and initiated daily phone calls or Facebook conversations with his older siblings. Whenever one of them planned to visit the family household in Modesto, Calif., he changed his plans to ensure he would be available. When the family vacationed in Las Vegas, he shepherded his younger relatives to the arcades and amusement parks. "If it was a down day, he always knew how to make everyone happy," his brother, David Kent, told, adding that Marty often danced and sang to lighten the mood.

Marty, an avid fan of the Philadelphia Eagles, was outgoing around his friends but in public kept his feelings to himself. "I think he would smile even when he was mad because he didn't want people to know he was mad," Jones said. He was a senior at Elliott Alternative Education Center in Modesto and planned to graduate this year. He recently purchased his class ring, choosing his ruby birthstone and initials as a design. Academics came easily to him, and he thought about pursuing a career in business. "I'm somebody, and I know I can do it," he said.

Marty was shot and killed on Jan. 2 after jumping in front of a bullet to protect his mother on their front porch in Modesto.

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