The eldest of four children, Deon Cruz moved in with his grandmother to help take care of her. He felt a sense of responsibility for those he loved, but also had a sense of humor that drew people to him.
"He has so much to give. He's so smart and so helpful, and funny and respectful. He's just Deon," said his mother, Charmaine Cruz.
"He had just graduated," she said, recalling the day in 2017 when Deon graduated from Notre Dame High School. "And he was so proud of himself because that whole time he was going there he was worried because classes were tough. But when he graduated you can see the relief, that sense of 'Yes, I did it.'
"And he was so proud of himself for doing it. It was like he felt he could do anything. He was ready to do so much more – he could do so much more."
Charmaine Cruz said her 19-year-old son liked to fix cars and was an avid baseball player. He played for the Sinajana Giants and other teams growing up, and recently joined the Pay-Less team.
"We had a game that day," she said. "He was on his way to grab his things to go to that game when it happened."
On Monday, Charmaine Cruz was in Sinajana when her phone rang. It was Deon.
"He said, 'Mom, I got into an accident.' And I didn't know if he was joking or not because he was always joking around. So I asked, 'Are you hurt? Are you joking? What's happening?'" she said.
"Then he told me, 'I can't feel my legs.' ... I grabbed my stuff ... and I got in my car to go check my boy."
On the road, she said she was getting directions from him, trying to find out what happened and the extent of his injuries. He said he had been driving on Route 4 in Ordot when he suddenly saw a car leaving a store parking lot. He tried to swerve out of the way and ended up driving across the oncoming lane and off the road.
"I was headed there, driving there from Sinajana, and I saw the police cars and the ambulance passing me," she said. "I got there but the police wouldn't let me go to him, but I had him on the phone. He kept saying he was fine. But he wasn't. I could hear him, it took like five or six of them to get him out of the truck. He was yelling."
'He was funny and kind'
Charmaine Cruz said, at the hospital, Deon continued to joke around as family and friends arrived to visit him. The family learned he had shattered his femur. Three days later, on Thursday, Deon Cruz died.
"The whole time when he was at the hospital and all of his friends came, he was still joking, and ... people are asking if he's OK, and he was like, 'I'm fine, I'm gangster.' He was always doing that – joking – and just acting like he's so tough," she said.
Her son had tattoos, she said, and looking at him people might have thought he was a tough guy at first.
"But he was funny and kind. ... That's why he had so many friends."
At the hospital, she met his friends from school and work, and others he befriended from around the island through baseball or working on cars.
"If you meet him, you'll know already that he's, like, such a character. And so, last night was the first night of the rosary. And his friends were there, and later on they were singing and making jokes, saying, 'This is what Deon would say if he were here.'"
She said his friends fixed Deon's bike and have taken his truck, which isn't running.
"They took it because they're going to fix it. They're like him, they all fix cars, so they're going to fix it so they can drive it on the day of his funeral," she said.
Words of gratitude
Charmaine Cruz had words of gratitude for her son's friends and everyone who has sent a kind message to her and the family.
"Everyone is saying prayers for him ... these friends of his, and I've even met some of their moms and they're telling me what a good, kind and respectful kid he was," she paused, and through the phone could be heard trying to hold back from sobbing.
"These boys are his friends and they've been there since he was in the hospital, and they're still around right now helping with the rosary. And when I see them and I think of my son and I – I don't know how do you do that. I don't know. He's only 19."
She provided The Guam Daily Post with photos of Deon, adding a small note: "Here are some pictures just to paint a small picture. There is so much more. And he would have been more."