KENDALL, Fla. -

Thursday marked seven years since Miami Hurricanes lineman Bryan Pata was killed outside his apartment in Kendall.

His mother, Jeanette Pata, said the overpowering pain never goes away.

"My heart is still broken," she said. "Why? I want to know what reason he got killed. Why?"

The question has tormented her for seven years: Why would someone want to kill her son, the youngest of nine?

"Somebody knows something," said Pata.

Bryan Pata was a 6 feet 4 inches, 280-pound gentle giant, and a fun-loving kid with a big smile -- a star on the 2006 University of Miami football team. The next level for Pata was going to be the NFL as a possible first-round pick.

Police said Pata, 22, was killed execution style, shot in the head in the parking lot of his apartment complex in Kendall after he returned home from football practice on Nov. 7, 2006.

The Pata family only has their memories, remembering and wondering what could have been.

"It will make us feel a lot better knowing the person who took his life is behind bars," said Nelly Pata, Bryan Pata's sister. "We can't get him back, but if we knew who killed him and they're paying for what they did to him, it would make us feel a lot better."

The family has long believed he was murdered by someone who was not happy he was dating his then-girlfriend. They said that person confronted him several times in the weeks before the shooting.

Detectives may believe it but haven't been able to prove it.

Anyone with information on Pata's murder is asked to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.