Like so many young people, Tyler Nii loved to make fun of the person who brought him into the world.
The American tourist, who died in a tandem skydiving tragedy in Queenstown this week, was also the "typical younger brother", his mother Nancy Nii told the Herald last night.
"He was always bugging and wanting to be just like his older brother Kevin, but yet always looks up to him and his wife Junejune with respect and love."
To two-year-old Jessa, Nii was her beloved "Uncle Lyler". For Jessa's unborn brother, he will be the uncle whose path he did not quite cross.
Nii lost his life living the dream of so many — travelling to New Zealand, having amazing adventures and making memories to hold on to for the rest of your life.
That dream turned to tragedy when the 27-year-old and his NZONE skydiving instructor plunged into the freezing waters of Lake Wakatipu four days ago.
near Jack's Pt 20 minutes later, but Nii couldn't be found. He is presumed dead.
This week, as the Police National Dive Squad assess conditions to recover Nii's body from the 250m deep lake, his grieving family will arrive in Queenstown.
They were struggling to believe what had happened, Nancy Nii said, from her home in California, last night.
"We are all still in shock and have not come to believe it to be true. We need to see where and how this terrible accident happened. I suppose it will help us come to grips with the situation I hate to say closure but ..."
The family had wanted to come to New Zealand as soon as they heard about the tragedy, but authorities advised them not to, Nancy Nii said.
They desperately want to bring their son and brother home.
"We are hoping to go to the lake and praying that we will be able to bring Tyler back home with us, so we can start our healing process. We have no idea what to do other than that.
"It has been so tough for us to be so far away and feeling so helpless."
They had been comforted by news from New Zealand, both relating to the search for Nii and the tributes from friends that had been published in the media.
"We have [also] been so touched by all the caring people that we have dealt with so far during this horrific situation. Thank you all and with deep appreciation once again."
Her son had always been smart, active and athletic, Nancy Nii said.
"At the age of two he was into every sport he could, from basketball, golf, tennis, soccer, baseball and volleyball."
After graduating from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, he worked as a tennis coach for kids in the San Francisco Bay area.
He had found his place in the world.
"He always amazed us at how good he was with these kids and how positive and encouraging he was with them.
"He was really starting to find himself and becoming more confident in his abilities as a coach and instructor."
Her son lived life to the fullest — in his sport, and beyond, she said.
"[He was] always having his friends over laughing and having a good time. He went on a couple of vacations, to Madrid and London, by himself and loved travelling."
Most of all, he loved those he kept closest.
"He is a sensitive and loving young man. He has a little dog that he got while in college that he loves dearly, Bishop.
"I will always remember him, with a smile on his face, while making fun of me."