Faavaoa Jones tears up while talking about her son, Joseph, who was shot and killed in Pasadena on Sept. 26, 2012.
Joseph Jones would have turned 24 on Sunday.
Instead of celebrating his birthday, family and friends are planning a memorial service.
Jones was shot after midnight Wednesday while he and friends were hanging out near Newport Avenue and Stanton Street in Pasadena, police said. He died at a hospital.
Details about the case were sketchy, but police said they were looking for a gunman, described only as a black male in his late teens or early 20s. Police didn't have a motive.
Family members, who arrived to the scene late Wednesday morning, said the incident may have started after their son confronted a man who tried to rob him.
"I'm lost," said his mother, Faavaoa Jones, fighting tears. "I just pray and I know he's in good hands. I know he's happy up there. And he wants us happy too. And I will do that for the rest of my life. But I'll miss him so much."
The family said they moved to an apartment in Pasadena with the hope of buying a home because it was safer than their former South Bay neighborhood.
Joseph Jones' father, David, an executive for a cargo airline, said his son was bi-polar but brilliant.
He loved computer science and everything about computers.
He'd been accepted to Stanford, the father said, but a car accident in which he hit his head, exacerbating his mental illness, derailed those plans.
The family said they plan to cremate his remains and scatter his ashes in Samoa, where his mother is from.
Police, meanwhile, canvassed the neighborhood for clues and used a bloodhound to try to pick up the scent of the gunman.
Anyone with information about the shooting was urged to contact Pasadena police at (626) 744-4241.