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By Sarah Dallof and Elisha Fieldstadt

The grieving mother of one of the victims of a shooting spree unleashed at two military centers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, said Sunday that her son "died doing what he loved."

Paula Proxmire, the mother of Navy Petty Officer Randall Smith, left an American flag and a baseball mitt — representing two of her son's two passions — at a memorial growing near one of the sites of Thursday's shootings that left five servicemen and the gunman dead.

"My son is a hero. He died doing what he loved. He would have had it no other way," Proxmire, from Kansas, told NBC News. “He’s been my hero since the day I gave birth to him.”

Smith, 26, was injured in the shootings but died early Saturday. He was married and had three young daughters.

"He’s my life, he’s my world," Proxmire said. "He's gone."