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— Michael Brown Jr. was on the verge of starting college, eager to launch himself into the adult world. Instead, on Monday he’ll be mourned at his funeral, more than two weeks after his fatal shooting by a white police officer — an act that ignited days of violent protests and reawakened racial tensions that still linger in the nation.

Family and friends recall a young man built like a lineman — 6-foot-3, nearly 300 pounds — with a gentle, joking manner. An aspiring rapper who dubbed himself “Big Mike.” A fan of computer games, Lil Wayne, Drake, the movie, “Grown Ups 2” and the TV show “Family Guy.” A kid who was good at fixing things. A struggling student who buckled down to finish his courses, don his green graduation gown with red sash and cross the stage in August to pick up his diploma.

“My fondest memory of Mike is seeing a big kid coming in with a smile on his face, his headphones on and a big can of iced tea … and say, ‘Hey, Coach K, What’s going on? …. What do you need me to do this morning,’ ” recalls Charlie Kennedy, a Normandy High School health and physical education teacher.

Brown loved music even as a young child. Ophelia Troupe, his art teacher for five years in elementary school, remembers a polite, reserved boy who lit up when she would play her son’s hip hop beats as a reward if the students behaved.

“Michael was the one to say, “Be quiet so Ms. Troupe can play the beats,’ ” she recalls.

President Barack Obama is sending three White House aides to the funeral.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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