Australian athlete remembered as family-oriented, loving at service

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA --Family and friends came together Tuesday to say goodbye to a young man who was taken too soon in the town of Duncan.

Christopher Lane was shot to death while jogging in the town of Duncan.

Authorities say two teenagers are now charged with first-degree murder, another is charged as an accomplice.

In Lane's hometown of Melbourne, Australia, a large church was filled with family and friends who wanted to remember the young man rather than the tragic circumstances that led to his death.

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At the beginning of the service, Lane's mother put a Baptismal cloth on his casket, symbolizing the family's faith for eternal life.

That gesture was followed by a procession of friends and family, each laying a jersey that Chris once wore on the casket.

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Sarah Harper, Chris' girlfriend who lives in Duncan, was the last one to make her way toward the casket.

As she put the final baseball jersey in place, she unfolded an Oklahoma flag and placed it on the coffin.

A group of Lane's best friends made their way to the pulpit to lead the congregation in prayers for his family, his friends and his peace.

Chris' three sisters made their way to the microphone, speaking for over five minutes about their time with their younger brother.

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They described him as being neat and punctual, but always competitive.

While that aspect of his personality played seamlessly into athletics, it was not always welcome at home.

They say despite disagreements, Chris was always empathic and could easily stop an argument in its tracks.

The women also spoke about Sarah, thanking her for loving their brother and giving him another family away from everything he knew in Australia.

They closed by saying:

"Many of you may not know but Christopher's full name is Christopher Ryan Lane. But when we were very little, he used to tell people he was Christopher Robin from AA Milne's Winnie the Pooh stories. For the past few days, words spoken by Christopher Robin have kept our family comforted and I would like to share with you now. 'If ever there is a tomorrow when we're not together, there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think but the most important thing is, even if we're apart, I'll always be with you.' This week more than ever, we have realized that Christopher will always be with us in our memories and forever in our hearts."

Chris' father took to the pulpit next.

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He spoke for nearly 11 minutes, saying that the last time he saw his son, he knew that Chris was happy.

He said he had grown from a boy to a man and was planning a life with Sarah, which made the whole family happy.

He thanked the Harpers for taking in Chris and accepting that "funny-talking kid as one of your own."

He closed the funeral by reading the last Facebook message he ever sent to his son the day he was murdered,

"As I'm now living in Adelaide, when Chris was about to start his journey back to the states,ย  we played telephone and Facebook tag but never quite caught up on the last day. But my last message to Chris was, 'No worries, was going to ring when I got to work but got thrown into a meeting. Enjoy the last year and make the most of it and just remember it's all fun. I'll catch up soon. I'm very proud at how you have turned out. Chris, we're all so proud at how you have become and you know you will always be with us."

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Family and friends hope to help Chris' memory live on for years to come.

There is an effort in Australia to name a little league baseball field "Christopher Lane Field."

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