It was standing room only, with many friends and loved ones spilling into hallways and an overflow room at Sunset View Mortuary on Tuesday to remember Tyler De Martini.
The 18-year-old Berkeley resident, and former El Cerrito High School student, died last week after a along Marin Avenue near the Albany border.
De Martini's funeral took place in El Cerrito on Tuesday morning, with an estimated 400-plus attendees. Afterward, he was buried in a private ceremony for family at St. Joseph Cemetery in San Pablo.
Best friend Jordan Riker, in his eulogy, reflected on meeting De Martini in sixth grade at baseball try-outs at Castro Park. He described Tyler as a "short and stocky kid with a buzz cut and the biggest attitude."
Riker recalled an early practice together, where Tyler gave Riker the nickname "Crazy Legs" because of Riker's running style. That day, Tyler, who was four or five inches shorter than Riker, swooped Riker up and carried him around the field.
Afterward, waiting for practice to begin, the two boys sat talking, "and I just felt like I'd known this kid all my life. He had the best ears. He always wanted to hear what I had to say."
Riker said, in one game, as Tyler slid into second base, a member of the other team hurled a ball toward the baseman to get an out. The ball struck Tyler square in the jaw: "There was blood gushing everywhere." The coach told Tyler to leave the game, but "Tyler just stood up and said, 'No, coach. We gotta win.'"
Riker continued: "He was always thinking of others first: family first, friends first."
Tyler played baseball through ninth grade at El Cerrito High, said Riker, then, to everyone's surprise, stopped abruptly.
Riker said he remembers Tyler's explanation: "I quit baseball because I'm in love with skateboarding. I just can't keep my feet away from the skateboard."
De Martini's cousin, Mimi Cammack, choked back her tears as she spoke in her eulogy about her cousin's "fearlessness, persistence and athleticism," among other qualities.
"He was loyal," she said. "He brought smiles and laughter to the happiest of occasions and also the most difficult ones."
Cammack described Tyler as "a hero to my son," and urged those in attendance to follow Tyler's example and "Laugh often, love passionately and live fearlessly."
Godfather Chris Clark noted, in his remarks, Tyler's unconventional approach to life.
"Tyler didn't live his life in a textbook," he said. "He didn't care much for the classroom.... I want to be as fearless as Tyler was, though I'll probably never jump off of 10 stairs on a skateboard. At that moment, there was nothing that held Tyler back, when he had his skateboard under his feet."
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