Row upon row upon row they came - mourners, teammates, family and his "bros."

They all wanted to give one last goodbye Saturday - to their brother who used to stay late at night and clean the church. To their teammate who only displayed acts of selfishness because he wanted to be the one making the tackle.

To Dino LaVella Cannon, who lived his life as it was prematurely ended - for his friends, family and God.

To a young man, whose spirit will follow and protect and guide all those who loved him.

Pastors David L. Norman and David G. Reynolds conveyed that message to more than 1,000 friends and family at Cannon's funeral at Greater Vision Community Church.

Less than two weeks after he graduated from Killeen High, Cannon was shot outside a nightclub while vacationing in Florida with his family and later died at an Orlando, Fla., hospital on June 15. He was reportedly shot in a parking lot outside Club Limelite while protecting his sisters after leaving the club around 2:30 a.m. EST.

Cannon and the suspected shooter were involved in an altercation earlier in the evening that reportedly began when the suspect and a group of friends began harassing Dino's sisters.

The suspect was kicked out of the club by off-duty police officers, but waited in the parking lot, where he later shot Dino multiple times in the presence of those who had come to depend on him for his never-ending smiles.

Sure, the community could have simply focused on vengeance Saturday.

The suspect has not been caught and, at this point, it seems likely that the Orlando police will never find Cannon's killer.

They have even resorted to handing out fliers, hoping for a real lead.

But Saturday, no one at Cannon's funeral was worried about finding vengeance.

Vengeance belongs to the Lord, one of Cannon's uncles said. This was a tearful celebration.

For a short time, Cannon belonged to them all, and they were all made better because of him.

That was what they gathered to reflect upon and celebrate, while selfishly wishing Cannon would've been given more time, wishing they could've been given more time with him.

Cannon lived a life that served as an example of faith to many in attendance and that is why one after one, people spoke about when given the chance Saturday.

Kevin Pyles, a member of the Cannon's close-knit group of friends that affectionately called themselves "Bros," smiled as he spoke of his close friend's faith and how he will live on in everyone who knew him.

"Dino was a teammate, best friend, classmate, brother and a spiritual role model," he said. "He revealed to all of us that it was possible to have a strong belief in Christ, while also continuing to live life to the fullest."

To Pyles and many, many others, Cannon will reveal himself again as a guardian angel - he was in life, too.

He introduced Ronald Lanier, another member of the "Bros," to Christ, a moment Lanier said was the biggest "blessing" in his life.

Killeen football coach Sam Jones described Cannon as respectful, outgoing, obedient and spiritual - the definition what true Roos are.

His sister, Desiree', pleaded for his life and his love to be a lesson to everyone in attendance.

"We all loved him. He will be greatly missed and, to all his friends, don't let his death be in vain," she said. "All he wanted for y'all was to go on and succeed, go off to college, do what you need to do, get your education."

But, with his untimely death, those who loved him so much, had to say goodbye one last time, because what he represented was what he was most loved for.

And, to truly celebrate his life, his life must continue through the lives of those he touched - the friends who needed his smiles to make a bad day go suddenly right, the teammates who followed his by-example leadership and the family who helped make him the man he needed to be to those who needed him.

That is what row upon row of people reflected upon Saturday, remembering Cannon as a true Roo and a young man of seemingly unbreakable faith.

A young man who is now the entire Roos nation's guardian angel.

Contact Nick Talbot at or (254) 501-7569

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