When his buddies backed out at the last minute from a second-grade ensemble performance of "Greased Lightning" in their grade school talent show, Trevor Smith took the stage alone, fearlessly sporting the requisite leather jacket and bravado of a star.
Years before his death Friday at age 13, Trevor made his mark as a true character — on stage and off — the kind of kid whose confidence, humor and enthusiasm naturally engaged others and drew them to him, friends said.
His easy acceptance of others, kids of all stripes, also marked him as a rarity in middle school, they said.
"He was just a great, all-around sweet kid," said Shelly Coons, a longtime family friend who watched Trevor grow up.
"That boy was fun," said another family friend and eighth-grade history teacher, Isaac Raya. "I couldn't wait to have him in my class."
But Trevor lived just a few weeks beyond seventh grade at Kenilworth Junior High in Petaluma before his death Friday in a roadside accident outside Ukiah.
Authorities said he was in a group of kids going to a birthday party at Lake Mendocino when his host's pickup ran out of gas on Highway 101. Trevor was among several teens who were pushing the truck to an off-ramp when it gained momentum and he was run over by the boat trailer it was towing.
His mother, Pam Caralli Smith, said Trevor's brothers, both in high school, were "being very strong" about their loss, though their brother left a "void here in our house."
"It's this hole in their family," friend Keith Romstad said.
Trevor was the youngest of the boys born to his hairdresser mom and teacher dad, Joe Smith, a special education teacher in Novato.
"They were just brothers, like bear cubs, always rolling around," Pam Smith said.
He attended Sonoma Mountain and Cherry Valley elementary schools before moving on to Kenilworth for seventh grade.
Like his brothers, he loved sports, especially baseball and wrestling, some of which he picked up watching his oldest brother, Dylan, until he was able to try it himself in junior high.
"He couldn't wait for the chance to wrestle," Pam Smith said, noting he'd also recently expressed interest in lacrosse, his brother Tyler's sport.
Raya, Dylan Smith's wrestling coach, recalled noting the joy with which Trevor rooted for his brother.
Once his own turn came, Trevor had none of the inhibitions many kids have about going out alone onto the mat for a one-on-one match in a skin-tight uniform. He was awarded first in league competition for the junior varsity team when the season was done.
"I could tell that he was going to be a really good wrestler," Raya said, "and that he really loved it."
Trevor's passion for sports ran parallel to an interest in drama and musical theater that had him performing with Cinnabar Theater beginning around age 7, as well as Center Stage Kids Productions, both in Petaluma.
But Trevor didn't need to be on stage to be "in character." He loved performing and making people laugh, whether in history class or working as umpire at a Little League game, friends said.
"To be quite honest," said his mom, "whether it was a baseball field, or a wrestling mat, it was always a stage for Trevor."