Brodie Copeland was mature for his age. The Texas 11-year-old was an aspiring actor and promising baseball player who spoke like an adult—a “Renaissance-man kind of kid,” one of his coaches said.
He was watching fireworks with his father, Sean Copeland, on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France on Thursday night when a large truck tore through the crowd, killing them and more than 80 other people. Brodie was among the youngest victims of the Bastille Day attack.
Sean and Brodie Copeland’s visit to the coastal city was part of a family vacation to Spain and France. On Friday, a community united by baseball in their hometown of Lakeway, Texas, was left reeling from their deaths.
“Brodie is just a one-of-a-kind kid,” said Aaron Cable, head of player development for the Hill Country Baseball Club, through a family spokeswoman. “He’s popular, he’s funny, he’s mature, he’s fun to be around. You could have adult conversations with him when he was 9 years old.”
Cable, who worked with Brodie nearly every week for the past two years, said the 11-year-old also participated in theater productions and aspired to be an actor or comedian. “He’s an overall talented, Renaissance-man kind of kid,” Cable said.
Cable spent a week with the Copeland family at a baseball tournament in Florida before they left for the European trip.
The Hill Country Baseball Club started a GoFundMe page to support the Copeland family on Friday and posted a picture of Brodie playing in the water on the shore of the French Riviera. Friends of the baseball team and parents of other players have commented on the post, sharing their shock and condolences. “God Speed #8” one person wrote. “What a young life to be taken away in such a senseless manner,” wrote another.
Read more: How to Help the Victims of the Nice Attack
Club owner and coach Jonathan Paiz said Brodie—who earned the nickname Copeland Crush—brought excitement to his teammates whenever he went to bat. “Brodie was a fantastic kid, a great baseball player—a promising baseball player, and he got that taken away from him,” he said.
Reached by phone on Friday morning, Paiz happened to be traveling with one of Brodie’s young teammates.
“His parents are going to have to tell him,” Paiz said. “He doesn’t know yet.”
In some ways, Sean Copeland’s life revolved around his youngest son’s many interests. The duo went boating and set up a maze of dominoes in their backyard. They blew up fruit and filmed the explosions, family friend Bill Bishop said in an interview with People, calling the elder Copeland a “very hands-on father.”
“They were just a great family, loved baseball and loved being together and doing everything as a family,” Bishop said, according to People. “He just really enjoyed being with Brodie, whatever it was, whatever he wanted to do. His love was being with his family.”