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A teen killed Saturday in New York City’s Bronx borough was defending his younger brother from bullies, says his mother.

Alijay Morgan, 16, was stabbed to death in an encounter with three men at a basketball court in the Morris Heights neighborhood of the Bronx, reports News 12. Police say they found him at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

His grieving mother, Patricia Gay, says he died defending his 13-year-old brother in a fight that quickly escalated, the New York Daily News reports.

“My big one turned around and saw the little one was being bullied by someone his age,” Gay told the Daily News. “They started tussling playfully. Then it got serious. All I know, the kids said they’re coming back with a gun.

“Before you know it, some grown man came up to another kid holding a knife, said, ‘What are you doing with that?’ and took it from him and stabbed my son in his heart,” Gay said.

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Her younger son, Jamar, witnessed the whole thing, Gay added, and said he blamed himself for his brother’s death.

Jamar shared his version of events with the Daily News:

“My brother was protecting me from some kid that hit me out of nowhere. He gave me a wedgie at first. I gave him a wedgie back. Then he started punching me. So him and my brother started talking.

“I love my brother and I wish that never happened,” Jamar said, choking up.

Gay described Alijay as talented and smart with a penchant for fashion; his dream was to be a tailor and men’s clothing designer. He would draw clothing, she said, and “cut up jeans, style them up, color them in.”

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Gay was working at Cipriani’s Catering in Manhattan when she heard about her son’s stabbing. Despite rushing to the hospital to be with him, Alijay died before she could get to him.

“I was distraught, traumatized, confused. Hurt. Heartbroken,” Morgan told the Daily News. “He was gone. I didn’t get to talk to him.”

Police are searching for suspects in Alijay’s killing and are asking anyone with information to call 800-577-TIPS.