Ruben Marin was walking home from a graduation party with Narbonne High teammate Airan Martinez when he saw the gun emerge from a passing car.

Marin, who had just turned 16 years old, instinctively tried to get out of the way while shielding Martinez. But a bullet struck Marin in the leg just below his left knee, and he crumpled to the ground on 251st Street in Harbor City.

“It was just a random incident; everyone was outside,” he said of the June 2015 drive-by shooting. “I don’t know if I was mistaken for someone else or what.”

Regardless, Marin believes “it’s a blessing that it happened to me and not him (Martinez).”

“Not that he couldn’t have handled it, but I know I’m a tough kid, and I believe it happened for a reason.”