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Vigil celebrates life of Las Vegas toddler who died of head injuries

DaeVon Branon-Banks was a happy, hilarious 20-month-old boy before he died last week, his family and friends said during a Sunday evening vigil.

“He definitely had a personality of his own,” his mother, Gabrielle Branon, said.

About 30 people gathered to share memories, photos and videos of the boy they all just called Dae Dae. Friends held each other as they mourned his death. Others smiled as they celebrated his life.

They released white balloons into the sky at Mountain’s Edge Regional Park in the southwest valley.

DaeVon suffered head injuries last weekend after being thrown across a room twice, police said. He died Tuesday evening at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center.

A foster parent, 34-year-old Craig J. Dickens, told police Aug. 13 that he fell from his crib, but doctors determined that abuse caused the injuries, Metropolitan Police Department said.

Dickens faces a murder charge and is being held at the Clark County Detention Center without bail.

Branon, 34, said her son was placed in foster care after someone accused her of being high as she drove him in a car in late April.

She said her son was curious about what life had to offer.

Dae Dae’s uncle, 33-year-old Martin Quintana, said the boy was close with his family despite living with his foster parents.

“He was always happy,” Quintana said.

Many, including Dae Dae’s grandmother, Ramona Branon, emphasized how much potential he had.

“Had he lived a full life, he would’ve done many, many great things,” she said.

Others, including Quintana and 65-year-old Elizabeth Francis, DaeVon’s great-aunt, also said he was strong kid.

“He wasn’t a crybaby at all,” Francis said.

Quintana agreed.

“He was a tough, solid kid,” he said. “We called him ‘Bam-Bam’ because of how strong he was.”

DaeVon had a love for running and for learning, his family said. His grandfather, Gregory Branon, 60, said he could see potential for Dae Dae become both an athlete and a scholar.

Choking back tears, Gabrielle Branon said she hopes the incident brings awareness to such tragedies.

“I’ll never get to hug my son again, or kiss him or anything or tell him I love him,” she said. “I wish I could.”

Contact Bianca Cseke at bcseke@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0381. Follow @biancacseke1 on Twitter. Contact Blake Apgar at bapgar@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5298. Follow @blakeapgar on Twitter.

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