OAKLAND -- As the reward for information leading to Emeryville resident Aya Nakano's killer grew to more than $30,000 Tuesday, friends and family said goodbye to a young man with an intense love for basketball and a passion for Motown and soul music.

Nakano, 22, who was gunned down last week after an unknown driver rear-ended him, was remembered as a guy who loved to tease and poke fun at friends but also laughed when people turned a joke on him.

"Our friends (especially his roommates), loved to (joke with) each other, and he could take it and give it as well as anyone," said Steve Zegalia, who met Nakano as a freshman at the University of Oregon. " He was just one of those people that you love to hang out and spend time with, because he was usually good for a laugh and had a positive energy about him."

Nakano was a dedicated basketball fan who owned at least 30 pairs of basketball shorts, and supported the Golden State Warriors. He also loved music: oldies, slow jams, and everything in between. "He had a not-so-secret love of Motown and soul music," said Zegalia.

Nakano, who lived with his mother and her partner, was returning home from playing pick-up basketball at UC Berkeley about 11 p.m. June 12 -- only an hour before his 23rd birthday -- when a car rear-ended his Jeep Cherokee. Nakano pulled over on Market Street near Stanford Avenue in North Oakland, got out to talk to the other driver and, according to his family, an argument ensued.


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No one, including investigators, knows why, but one of the two men in the late-model four-door silver sedan shot Nakano before the car sped away. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

"We're still trying to determine the motive for this senseless killing," said Oakland police Officer Eric Milina, the lead investigator on the case.

Nakano's uncle, Troy Aquino, plastered the area with fliers offering a $5,000 reward the day after the slaying. Crime Stoppers of Oakland is offering up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect or suspects and another $16,000 has been donated through the website gofundme.com after Aquino set up the online reward fund.

"To his moms, he was an only child whom they loved dearly ..." Aquino wrote on the fundraising website. "To his relatives, he was always a source of fun. Easy to get along with and great to have around. Sometimes the butt of the jokes or the one dishing it out."

He radiated compassion and joy of life, said Kevin McCarthy, who met Nakano at Sacred Heart Preparatory High School in Atherton in 2004. "He taught me that there's no better person in the world than who you are in your heart and who you are when no one is looking."

Nakano earned a degree in sociology from the University of Oregon last year and had worked with his mother's partner, Jean Aquino, at a worldwide logistics company.

At the memorial service Tuesday, she recalled one of their last conversations.

"I'm happy Jean, I'm happy. Are you happy?" Nakano asked her. "I'm blessed," he replied to himself. "I'm blessed."

"You guys made him happy," Jean Aquino told mourners, choking back her own tears. "Family made him happy."

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Oakland Police at 510-238-3821 or Crime Stoppers at 510-777-8572. To donate to the reward fund, go to http://www.gofundme.com/39z06g.

Contact Kristin J. Bender at kbender@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/kjbender. Contact Brittny Mejia at bmejia@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/brittnyariel.