James Dudley Jr. loved to play basketball. He loved music, especially rap, and he loved dressing nice.
He graduated from Hamden High School in 2008 and spent the last three years working with special needs students at ACES in North Haven. He also was attending Gateway Community College, according to his family.
"He was going places," said one family member who didn't want to be identified.
"My son was a good kid and he had so many friends," a tearful Patricia Heard said of her son Monday afternoon at Headquarters during a press conference where it was announced that a juvenile had been charged with murdering James.
"He was big time into music, big time into rapping," said his brother Taikwon. "And he was good."
"He used to beat me at basketball when I got older," his father James Dudley Sr. said, "but I used to make him earn it."
"For someone to take his life at such a young age..." Pamela Heard said, her voice trailing off as the tears took over. "He loved to play basketball, he was not involved in drugs, he was always home, he was just an average young adult.
"He had issues growing up," she said, "but just the normal issues that every family faces."
Police say the male juvenile shot Dudley Jr., 22, several times on North Street at about 7:30 p.m. Saturday after the two got into an argument.
Dudley Jr. grew up in a house at 43 North St. with his parents and his brother. At the time, there weren't any drug or gang problems in the neighborhood, Taikwon said, but since the family moved, that's changed.
"It wasn't happening when they were growing up," said James Dudley Sr.
"No, wasn't like that then," Taikwon agreed. And James Jr. still had friends in the neighborhood, he said.
"We grew up there so it wasn't unusual for him to be there," he said.
The family thanked the Hamden Police Department for their compassion during the events of Saturday night and its aftermath.
"They were sensitive to our needs and did everything you could expect a police department to do and kept us updated," Taikwon said.
And James Dudley Sr. had some words of advice for town officials.
"If we take the time to give kids programs, something to do, they wouldn't do this, they would find something else to do," he said. "We can change all this -- they need something to do, they need programs.
"We need to find a solution to this," he said.