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Arkansas family, friends still mourning loss of teen one year later

"Because I can forgive. I would just want to show them what they took from me. You took away a good kid."

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark — The holidays are supposed to be a joyous time that you spend with loved ones and family, but for some people the holidays can remind you of someone you lost. 

Last year, 18-year-old Dailon Tyler was shot and killed Christmas Eve while gift shopping with his siblings. One year later, and his family says things haven't gotten easier for the holidays. They've focused on keeping his memory alive, while coping with his death.

RELATED: 'Mama, come save me': Little Rock teen killed after Christmas shopping with siblings

Renalda Jones is Tyler's mother. 

The day after Christmas, she's surrounded by laughter and love with her family and loved ones. It's a far cry from the tears she's used to having over the last year.

"It's hard. He was a good kid. He didn't deserve it. The way I lost my baby? It was wrong. It wasn't right. We're in grieving counseling groups. We're in several groups because my kids are torn because of this. It's not just my kids. His classmates and teammates, they go through it," said Jones.

Tyler was a football player.

His fellow teammates, Jaylon Smith, Ed Dailey and James Jordan are signed players in college. They came back home for the holidays to pay respects to Dailon and visit his family.

"Sometimes we act like Day Day," said Smith.  

He says it's important for them to come back and show love to Jones because it can lift her spirits, knowing that they can be viewed as an extension of her son.

"Seeing her have a smile on her face every time we come around just brings us joy," said Dailey.

Jordan's been called Tyler's twin. He says they've known Tyler and his family for years, playing football together and seeing Jones' strength helps him cope with his best friend's death.

"Seeing how strong she is through it all, like knowing that's somebody I can go talk to. I mean, she knows how we was, how we all was with Day Day. She helped me get through it a lot," said Jordan.

Family and friends went to Tyler's gravesite this Christmas Eve to visit them.

Jones says she couldn't bring herself to go.

Last year, Tyler suggested doing a secret Santa with the family. It's something they tried to plan again this year.

"We didn't even celebrate yesterday. We did everything the day before. We really did. 'Cause it took a lot for me to get up Friday and still do it," said Jones.

With still unanswered questions about Tyler's death, it's the fun memories that his family and friends hold on to.

His teammates kept his memory alive on signing day by having Tyler's picture there with them since he was supposed to sign after high school, too.

Jones says she knows the healing process will take time.

"There's people in the grieve counseling group, who's been going through this 5 or 6 years, 10 years, 15 years, you know? No justice and they know what I'm going through. It's a process. Man, this is nothing I would wish on anybody," said Jones.

Even with the heartache, Jones says she doesn't hold any hate in her heart for whoever shot and killed her son. 

"Because I can forgive. I would just want to show them what they took from me. You took away a good kid. I'd feel bad for you because if justice is served, now your mother has to lose you. The difference is, she can see you in jail. I won't ever get to see my son again," said Jones.

Tyler's case is still open. 

Anyone who has information is asked to contact the North Little Rock Police Department tip line at 501-680-8439.

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