Cathy Brooker said her son, the fourth of nine children, was trying to earn some money when he was killed Sunday at 4:15 p.m. Brooker is clinging to his school ID.
"This is his school ID. I will never take it off," Cathy Brooker said.
Ronald lived with his grandmother on the city's West Side, but was staying with his mother for a few days to celebrate her birthday when he was shot.
"He couldn't even shovel the snow and make his money without worrying about being shot," Joshua Johnson, witness, said.
"Out of nowhere, I heard three shots. And I look out the window to see what happened. And then I just saw a young man fall down, Deonte Polk, neighbor, said.
Police found Hayes unresponsive on the sidewalk outside an apartment complex. He was just a few blocks from his mother's home.
"I walked up there. I seen my grandson laying there on the ground. Police told me he was gone," John Booker, victim's grandfather, said.
Relatives say Ronald wanted to attend college and become a police officer. He was a well-liked student at Banner Academy, an alternative school from which he was to graduate in June.
His mother called him Duck, and friends say he loved music and sports. He had planned to take his mom to senior prom, they said.
"She don't deserve it. He didn't deserve it," Ofelia Nelson, relative, said.
Police have not released a motive or said if they consider the shooting to be gang-related.
"I'm going to miss my baby. I'm going to miss my baby," Brooker said.
Investigators hope security cameras will lead them to the killer.