Dimitrie Connor was, in many ways, a typical teenage boy.
He loved football and idolized Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo.
He joked around with his friends and was known as the class clown in school.
He dreamed of being an airline pilot or a professional footballer.
But the 15-year-old’s hopes were tragically cut short when he was struck down with a rare illness.
Dimitrie died on 16 January, eight months after being diagnosed with a brain stem tumour.
Almost 1,000 mourners turned out to pay their respects to the popular teen at a funeral service at the William Allen McLaughlin Civic Centre in the East End on Sunday.
Team-mates from the East End United soccer team held a guard of honour and his number 18 soccer jersey was retired and buried alongside him.
His mother Veronica Cole said she had “been through hell” over the past few months, watching her happy, energetic son deteriorate to the point where he could only communicate by blinking his eyes.
Dimitrie, a student at Clifton Hunter High School, was initially admitted to hospital in May last year with weakness in his right side that he thought was caused by a football injury. But his condition quickly worsened and doctors diagnosed a rare brain stem tumour – Pontine Glioma.
He was placed in a medically induced coma and flown to Miami for specialist treatment.
He returned to Grand Cayman in September last year. But he had lost his power of speech and needed the aid of a ventilator to breathe.
His father Donovan Connor said: “That is what happens with this type of tumour. It is a one in a million disease.
“We could still communicate with him. I would say: “shut your eyes tight if you can see daddy and he would shut his eyes.”
Ms Cole said the family had hoped Dimitrie could make a miraculous recovery after he was deemed strong enough to return to Grand Cayman.
“We kept hoping and praying and having faith that he would pull through and get better but the Lord knew better.
“Dimitrie had suffered enough. He’s in a better place right now.”
She said she would always remember her son as a happy, outgoing boy who loved football, loved his friends and was respectful to everybody.
“He was very well mannered, I made sure of that. He never passed anyone on the street, young or old, without saying good morning.
“He was very kind. He would be willing to give his birthright away. He was that type of person.”
Mr. Connor said his son had idolised Real Madrid footballer Cristiano Ronaldo.
He said he had played both as a goalkeeper and an outfielder for East End United.
“He wasn’t always the best player on the team but everybody said he put in 100 per cent effort. He just loved to play football.
“He had a great personality, a great smile and he had manners for everybody.”
His aunt Tesha Dixon, who looked after him as a boy and helped with his upbringing, said Dimitrie’s death felt like losing a son.
She said: “I was very involved in his life. He was like a son to me. I remember when he was five-years-old and he wrote his letter to Santa. He had listed all these toys that he wanted, but they weren’t for himself, they were for his siblings.
“That’s what he was like, he never had a lot but he always thought of others first.”
Dimitrie leaves five siblings, Rochelle Conolly-Rose 17, Jada Connor 14, Michael Rankin 11, Akeleah Cole four and Brandon Cole, 15 months.