Chicago Tribune

'I had to see my son be put in a body bag.' Mom shows 8th-graders the heartbreaking aftermath of heroin overdose.

FRANKFORT, Ill. - Alex White took his first steps at 10 months old.

Once he could walk, he ran. Once he could run, he climbed. The neighbors used to call his parents and say, "Did you know Al's on the roof again?"

"From the time he was little," his mom, Kim White, said, "I knew it would take every ounce of my being to keep this beautiful, high-spirited young man alive."

He was a hugger.

"Never a handshake, always a hug," his friend Austin Zenere said. Alex and Austin met in first grade. They played travel baseball together. "And it wasn't a quick hug. He made sure to hold it."

Alex wouldn't abide teasing.

Kids were harassing another boy on the school bus when Alex was in fourth grade - stealing his hat, passing it around. The boy's mom called Alex's mom that night to thank her. Alex had shut down the teasing and returned her son's hat.

"He was the type of guy who 100 percent wouldn't do anything malicious," his friend Adam Meyers said. "He was never going to join in on poking fun."

He was loving.

Even in front of his football-playing, weight-lifting teenage friends, he always reminded his mom, "I love you." For her birthday one year, he wrote her a poem:

You've been at my side since I was small enough to hold.

I can see why you're never

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