Kameron Pratt, scheduled to return after minor shoulder surgery, was shot by an unidentified carjacker who dragged him from his pickup truck at his parents' home in Dallas on Friday night.
Pratt, 34, stumbled to the porch. His brother, Keanon, found him semiconscious, dialed 911 and performed CPR. Paramedics transported Pratt to the hospital but he died shortly after arrival.
The chief petty officer had been savoring two weeks' leave during his fourth overseas tour of duty in four years — most recently serving in the Middle East aboard the USS George Washington. He left behind a 9-month-old daughter, Lailah.
"You think of how many times he's probably escaped death out there in all the places he's been," his younger brother, Kebreon Pratt, said Saturday. "And here he is — home — just trying to spend time with his baby. He was on cloud nine. And then this happens."
Relatives said Kameron Pratt would have completed his active-duty assignment in October. He had hoped to complete a college degree, teach social studies and coach sports in the Dallas school district. He liked sports and loved children, family members said.
About five years ago, the former football player and amateur boxer decided the Navy would help him earn a good salary and enlisted at age 30, 12 years after he passed up an opportunity to enter the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., relatives said.
"I felt it was a positive move for him," Keanon Pratt said. "And I was proud. Really proud."
Police said the carjacking appeared to be random. Two men in a gold Chevrolet pickup pulled up next to Kameron Pratt's Ford F-150 pickup, Dallas police Sgt. Gil Cerda said.
Pratt was parked in the driveway of his parents' home. One of the men, wielding a gun, ordered Kameron Pratt out of his truck before shooting him and stealing the pickup, Cerda said.
Police were investigating but no arrests had been made.
Close-knit relatives mourned Saturday and said they were struggling to come to terms with the death of a man they called "the life of the party" and "happy-go-lucky."
"But he could be quiet and very observant," said the victim's father, Leon Pratt Jr. "He could be very analytical. Most of all, he loved his family, and he loved his friends."