Friends and family release blue baloons in honor of 9-year-old Myles Thames, who died June 14, during a celebration of his life Friday at Kaiser Elementary School. (DON LEACH, Daily Pilot / December 31, 1969)

A 9-year-old boy who died while playing basketball last week was remembered for his smile and energetic personality at a memorial service Friday in Costa Mesa.

Myles "Smiles" Thames attended Kaiser Elementary School, where Friday's memorial took place. While at a Boys & Girls Club on June 14, the third-grader died after suffering cardiac arrest due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy — a thickening of the heart that makes it more difficult to pump blood.

"It's a beautiful day for a beautiful celebration of a beautiful life," said Isaure Blandin, Myles' aunt, whom he often referred to as "Auntie Pookie."

The ceremony included a performance of "Amazing Grace," as well as a prayer led by Pastor Mike Jonkers of the Harvest Christian Fellowship of Orange County.

"There is no 'Myles was,'" Jonkers said, "because Myles is alive and well in Heaven today."

Throughout the service, Myles' presence could be felt as family and friends shared fond memories of him.

Sherrilynne Dangl, Myles' teacher, presented some of the things her class said about him.

"He was a good friend," the classmates wrote on a poster with a drawing of Myles. "He was a nice kid in class and was also a really good basketball player. He encouraged me to do things better, and I'll always miss him and love him."

Blandin remembered Myles as a "special young man who grabbed your heart."

"He had an energy that was contagious," Blandin said. "Everyone who met him could always comment about him because he just had a special quality that was shared with everybody who got to know him."

Myles' classmates and family concluded the ceremony by releasing blue balloons into the sky in his honor.

The Thames family has set up a bank account for people who would like to contribute to the cost of the memorial service. Those wishing to donate can deposit money at any Chase bank branch to account No. 3035315737.

Cards and offerings can also be mailed to Michelle Thames, 92 Corporate Park, Irvine, CA 92606.

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