The family of an aspiring rapper who died in a stabbing last month said he "had the ability to enter a room and brighten it".
Alinjavwa Siwale, 22, known also as Swizzino, died at a property in Affleck Road, Colchester, on 11 December.
Two men have since been charged with his murder.
In a statement released on Monday, Mr Siwale's family said their "lives have been changed forever. We are heartbroken, still in shock and angry."
His song Mr Essex has more than 37,000 views on YouTube and his family said he "loved his rap music".
The statement, released through Essex Police, said: "Nothing can ever prepare you for the loss of a child. It is very, very painful and no mother should ever have to go through this.
"Njavwa had a big heart and made friends so easily, sometimes not in the right circles, and was true to each and every one of them. He supported them, guided them and made them happy."
Mr Siwale, who also played football for Great Notley FC, "loved his brothers to bits and was an amazing father to his son", the statement added.
"He was a free spirit who lived in the present and on his terms. He had big dreams, he was a leader, he had followers.
"He had the ability to enter a room and brighten it with his smile, his attitude, his infectious laugh or just his presence."
Sheldon Mckay, 25, and Phoenix Lee, 19, both of no fixed address, have been charged with murder and are due to appear at Chelmsford Crown Court for a plea hearing on 12 April.