Joseph Anthony Aguilera (Grizzly)
20 Years Old

January 28, 1976 to May 19, 1996

Joseph Anthony Aguilera was born January 28, 1976, determined to be different even from birth. He came into this world weighing 11 lbs. and 5 1/4 ozs. through natural childbirth, he had a broken collarbone and his eyes were turned in due to a strabismus. He had surgery at 2 & 1/2 years to correct his eyes, cosmetically as the doctor said you can’t put vision where there isn’t any. He never complained, just adjusted and continued on with life. In his first year of middle school we realized that he was having problems walking and had to be on home study for the full 3 years. After many doctor visits we finally took him to Shriners’ Hospital and they knew what to do to correct the fusion in his ankles, he had two separate surgeries with 6 months of recovery for each. It did not deter him from acquiring friends when he did return, as he was such a pleasure to be around. He graduated from high school with so many friends. He started working after high school and bought a car, which became his pride and joy. His friends would get together to talk about rims, then work on their stereos and cars. Everyone that knew him said he was their best friend and I am sure they were, because that is how he made them feel. He was our rock in the family. I could go on and on about the pleasure he gave me as a mother and to tell you the truth I would not be the only one saying this as his brothers and sister would say the same thing. He had a warm smile, hearty laugh, loved to yell (Mexican style) and warm presence about him, his friends nicknamed him “Grizzly” because he would give all his friends bear hugs. How does one describe someone that gave so much to his family and that has left a big hole in our hearts? We can only say that he was the greatest person to have ever been in our lives. He has become our hero and he is also an unsung hero having helped over 50 people with his donation of his organs, he had filled out his organ donor card after he had lost his brother 8 yrs earlier ( also a donor and 20 yrs. of age, born 1-29-68). We did get to meet their heart recipients who were awesome men.


Joe’s murder has not been solved; the shooter has never been arrested. We know he is a gang member and that he has murdered again. We cannot put other people at risk of being murdered by telling who he is and witnesses will be needed unfortunately. I am okay with the fact that his punishment will come from a higher source. Joe was not affiliated in the gang at all, he was a clean cut, hard-working son, brother, uncle and friend. He was with his friends on a Saturday evening when he was shot. First bullet hit him in the arm, another missed, everyone ran for cover, Joe went down on his knees and was shot again in the head. One of the boys called his girlfriend. As the boys were taken to the police station for questioning the girls went to the hospital. The phone rang at 2:15 a.m., it was Maria (friend) she asked if Joe was home, I replied, “No” and we hung up. At 2:30 a.m. the phone rang again and it was Nikki (friend) who told me that something happened to Joe and that we should go to the hospital right away. I knew he was gone when I saw him. The hospital filled up with family and friends. After the Dr. gave us the prognosis, I looked for a nurse to tell her we wanted to donate his organs. She hugged me and said she was just going to ask me about that.

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Joseph Aguilera