Martin Cobb was his family's "man of the house," raised as he was in a home without a father, the 8-year-old's mother told the Associated Press.
"As soon as he could talk, I told [him] he's the man of the house," his mother told the newswire. "That's what he did. He's a hero."
Facts about what happened to the 8-year-old—built small for his age—and his 12-year-old sister last week are slowly being pieced together. A 16-year-old neighbor has been charged with murder in the death of Martin and strangulation in the assault on his sister.
Martin's mother told AP that the teenage boy who is now under arrest had carried the crying, battered little girl to her Richmond, Va., home and told her that a white man had attacked her daughter. The teenage boy is black. The girl initially backed the teen's story, an action police say was coerced.
The police found that the teenager had threatened the girl into lying about who had attacked her Thursday. The teenager remains in custody as a juvenile with a hearing scheduled for May 20.
The police have yet to confirm exactly how young Martin died, only saying that he had severe head trauma.
Martin was remembered by his mother as being a "mama's boy," but he was also a born fighter. He had to have open-heart surgery when he was only 3 months old, and doctors were doubtful that he would survive.
"He's right here in my heart and super strong," Martin’s mother said her son.
Read more at the Associated Press.