Honored for his act of heroism, a young boy from Milwaukee was posthumously awarded the Carnegie Medal Sunday, Jan. 28 for risking his life to save others. With only 18 civilians recognized nationally this year, he's the youngest in the nation to receive this honor.
Family members gathered Sunday morning at Hephatha Lutheran Church, where they honored the Lord and Kevin Little.
"Each day is a struggle," Areial Rice, Little's mother said.
For Rice, Sunday morning was full of both grief and hope.
"I'm just blessed he could be remembered in such a good way," Rice said.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett presented his parents with the Carnegie Medal -- posthumously awarded to the boy.
"This is recognition of an incredible young man, wonderful son, brother, grandson and little boy who loved music and basketball," Barrett said.
He was a young man who gave his life for others. On Oct. 20, 2015, Little saved the lives of his grandmother and four children, only to lose his own after an arson near 36th and Silver Spring Dr. Six children had to be rescued from the burning home - four of them by their grandmother. Little died while trying to save his 2-year-old cousin, Tae'najah Morgan. His body was found draped over hers, as thought he was trying to shield her from the flames.
In October 2016, Michael Morgan was sentenced to serve 71 years in prison -- convicted of setting the fire that killed Little and Tae-najah Morgan.
Tae'najah Morgan died one day later, and Kevin Little died on Nov. 8, 2015 at the hospice facility where he was being cared for.
"He paid the ultimate price," Rice said.
The award offered some solace to his family.
"Blessed. Just excited my son is being honored. The award helps a lot. I'm very proud of him. It's because of him I have this strength to carry on," Rice said.
Loved ones, church and community members and the Milwaukee Fire Department's Honor Guard paid tribute to the young hero.
"I know he is in heaven smiling down and happy," Rice said.
As this was the church where Little was baptized as a baby -- the ceremony also included children getting pictures of the momentous and spiritual occasion -- a reminder that the goodness of God lies within them too. Through a horrible tragedy emerged life lessons from a courageous little boy.
"What we can learn from Kevin is just the importance of love, the importance of bravery. It teaches you how important family is," Mayor Barrett said.