Thousands gathered at Overcoming Believers Church on Saturday to pay their respects to the 15-year-old Fulton High School student shot and killed last week. Zaevion Dobson died shielding young friends in what's thought to be a gang related incident.
"It really is not a shock that he was able to do what he did in that moment," Jihad El-Amin, Zaevion's mentor and tutor, said.
El-Amin said he's worked with Zaevion and his older brother Zack for about three years, teaching them how to become the best men they could be. He said the Fulton football player's selfless act is more powerful than he ever could have imagined.
"That was the ultimate sacrifice to say that I'm going to think about other people other than myself with no hesitation," El-Amin said. "A lot of us can't say that that would've been our instant thought and about the others that we were with and to protect them over our own self."
"He's definitely a hero, you know, for his act," Fulton football teammate Gaston Strong said. "I think everybody will remember him as a real good guy."
Friends close to the Dobsons said the family is coping through prayer, and knowing the impact their son has made across the nation.
"Zenobia's very appreciative of all the outpouring from the community," Mobile Meals program manager Judith Pelot said. "She has a very strong faith and is knowing that there's another plan in place."
"She feels that her son's death will be for a purpose," Pelot said.
Those who came in support of the Dobson family said they hope Zaevion's legacy will be honored and remembered for years to come.
"This light being shined on Knoxville and shined on him in this way is a momentous event," El-Amin said. "Hopefully we can do something where another young man doesn't have to make that choice."
Dobson's burial followed the service immediately at New Gray Cemetery in Knoxville.
He was one of two people killed late Thursday and early Friday in what police believe were related killings.
A funeral was also held for Brandon Perry, the man accused of shooting Dobson.
Knoxville police are still looking for a person of interest in this case.