Gloria Adams is making her case from her tiny porch in Northeast.

"My son was a child, too," she says, her husband and sister and a daughter close by. "You can't give precedence of one over the other because of the age of the child."

She means no malice, no harm. She just wants to know, who decides which child is worthy of all the headlines and the heartache? Of all the outrage?

She buried her baby Robert "Bump" Adams on May 8. He was just 16. A positive kid, she says, who loved basketball and video games and music -- the Temptations as much as Tupac. And eating carryout. "He loved eating food out of a box," his mother says, and smiles.

Police say it was around midnight on May 1 at the Tai Jiang Carry Out on Bladensburg Road NE that Robert was stabbed and shot multiple times after a confrontation with three men. They're still trying to sort out what it was about, but they say they're making progress in the case.

Waiting for justice can be so hard.

Adams's porch is packed this week, the yard full of foot traffic. Gloria Adams has lived here, on Maryland Avenue in Northeast, off and on since she was a teenager. Now she is semi-retired, the mother of nine children, ages 14 to 38. Bump was the second to youngest.

His brother David wanted Bump to become a mechanic, like himself. His sister Toni, who works for a mortgage company, was going to teach him how to build Web sites. She wanted him to go to college, as did her own daughter, a sophomore at Penn State. He worked sometimes in the family's small hauling business.

School was a struggle for Bump, his mother says, and he'd get discouraged. So many hopes, so many hurdles.

She worries about saying anything that will make people reach for the stereotypes, and turn her son's life into some sorry street story.

"My son wasn't in no drugs and wasn't in no gang." Her words are careful, her voice even. "He loved his family and he loved life."

She calls over one neighbor after another to testify. He was always respectful, say several. He had an infectious laugh, says another.

And then there is Daniel, 14, the baby of the family. He has come into the yard now, with his bike. He wears a T-shirt with his brother's picture and the letters R.I.P.

Say something about your brother, his mother urges.

Daniel grips his handlebars, plants his feet in the dirt.

"We had fun together," he says. "We rode bikes together. Played basketball together. We went on trips together. We were doing things kids are supposed to do."

His voice breaks just a bit.

-- Marcia Davis

Gloria Adams (with husband Tony Sellman) says her son loved basketball and music.Bump's hopes kept running into hurdles.