They were unlikely victims, friends and family members said.
They each had different dreams, but the four boys wounded in yesterday's Randallstown High School shooting were on their way to achieving their goals.
Junior Marcus McLain, quarterback of the Rams' winning varsity football team, dreams of going to college and seeing his name on the NFL's starting roster.
Alexander Brown, 17 and a senior, has a similar vision. His is of free throws and swooshing three-point shots, friends said.
He hopes to walk on to the basketball team at Hampton University after graduation next month.
William Thomas - called "Tippa" by those who know him well - is reserved, affectionate and mannerly.
A senior on the Randallstown football team, he has been accepted to Morgan State University on an engineering scholarship.
And Andre Mellerson loves to make people - especially the ladies - laugh.
Friends and family members were in disbelief yesterday that the four athletic, ambitious young men had been caught up in such violence.
"I was saying to myself, 'It wasn't him. It wasn't him,'" said Brown's cousin Emanuel Capers. "But it was him."
McLain seemed to live and breathe football. His father coaches a Pop Warner team.
Off the football field, friends said, McLain is a typical teen-ager who likes shopping at the mall and talking to girls.
"He just wanted to get out of high school, go to college, play football, get to the NFL. That's his dream," said sophomore Brandon Ortiz, 15.
Mellerson - good-looking and fashionable - wasn't the type to be involved in anything negative, friends said.
"He's a ladies' man," said freshman Latea Bell, 15.
"He don't start no trouble. He likes to keep his mouth shut."
'Will to live'
Thomas, the most seriously wounded, had only recently moved to the area from Georgia to live with his aunt and guardian, Ann R. Godwin of Pikesville.
Already, he has shown himself to be a good student, Godwin said, and a talented football player.
Thomas was looking forward to going to the senior prom next week, Godwin said, and had rented a tuxedo.
And he was eagerly awaiting graduation.
After graduation, Thomas plans to play football at Morgan State, his aunt said.
"He is young and strong and has a will to live," Godwin said.
Thomas was unconscious last night, she said.
At Maryland Shock Trauma, where Thomas and two of the other three boys were taken after the shooting, a crowd of distraught and anxious relatives, teachers, coaches and friends gathered to await some news of the students' conditions.
Inside the hospital, they paced the floor, waiting and hoping.
"We're all family," said Kenneth Hannah Jr., 17. "We're with them the whole way."
Sun staff writers Sara Neufeld, Jonathan D. Rockoff and Jamie Stiehm contributed to this article.