"He loved to wear shorts and T-shirts in any weather and grab the gel to spike his hair," his family said in a loving obituary. "He would often sing at the top of his lungs, and once asked, 'How old do I have to be to sing on a stage?' "
Indoors, he spent his time playing games on the iPad -- especially the lawn mowing one. Outdoors, he loved to dive off the diving board, "swim like a fish" in his grandfather's pool and ride his bike -- without training wheels, mind you.
"I need to go outside, Mom. I need fresh air," he would often say.
He was born four weeks early -- because he was hungry, his family joked.
James had a voracious appetite. His favorites? His dad's egg omelets with bacon, and his mom's French toast.
He looked up to his older sister, wanting to do everything she could.
"They were the best of friends, going to school together, playing games together, and making endless drawings and crafts together."
The boy, whose family fondly called "J," will be incredibly missed, they said.
Grace McDonnell, 7
Grace was the "light and love of our family," her mother told CNN.
She loved her brother, school, the beach and wanted to be a painter.
For her 7th birthday in November, Grace requested a purple cake with a turquoise peace sign and polka dots. And that's exactly what she got.
"She was all about peace and gentleness and kindness," Lynn McDonnell told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "Grace didn't have an ounce of hate in her, and so we have to live through Grace and realize that hate is not how our family is."
The family drew cupcakes, ice creams cones, lighthouses and seagulls -- all things Grace loved -- on her tiny white casket.
Anne Marie Murphy, 52
A hero. That's how a first responder reportedly described Murphy to her father.
He told Newsday that authorities told him her body was found in a classroom, covering young children killed in the shooting in an apparent attempt to shield them.
"She died doing what she loved. She was serving children and serving God," Murphy's mother, Alice McGowan, told the newspaper.
A married mother of four, Murphy was artistic and hardworking, her parents said.
"She was a happy soul," her mother told Newsday. "She was a very good daughter, a good mother, a good wife."
Emilie Parker, 6
She could "light up a room," Emilie's father said about his oldest daughter.
Robbie Parker described her as "bright, creative and very loving." Emilie was always willing to try new things, he said, except food. Her laugh was infectious.
"My daughter Emilie would be one of the first ones to be standing up and giving her love and support to all of those victims, because that is the type of person she is," Parker said.
He said she was "an exceptional artist and she always carried around her markers and pencils so she never missed an opportunity to draw a picture or make a card for someone."