Video tribute recalls gay ATL youth found dead

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The sister of a homeless gay youth found dead in a Midtown hotel room last month released a touching YouTube tribute to her 20-year-old brother on Sunday.

Matthew Ralston was found dead on Aug. 17 at the Residence Inn on Peachtree Street when two hotel employees checked his room. They discovered Ralston's body face down on his bed and police said they found drug paraphernalia in his room.

On Sunday, Ralston's sister Justina published the YouTube video and posted a link in Project Q's coverage of his death. The seven-minute video opens with a splash of Ralston's baby pictures set to Bob Marley's “Everything's Gonna Be Alright.” It includes family photos, celebrations and tender moments before closing with “Runaway Train” from Soul Asylum.

The tribute ends with this: “Praying your soul is in a happier place. We love and miss you.”

Ralston, from Prattville, Ala., recently relocated to Atlanta and spent the last few weeks couch surfing among friends. Days before his death, he approached Lost N Found Youth, which cares for homeless LGBT youth, for help. The non-profit housed Ralston for a night but returned him to Midtown the next day when he said he wouldn't abide by the shelter's drug-free policies.

Lost N Found described the group's interactions with Ralston in a Facebook post after his death, but did not name him. Project Q Atlanta identified Ralston and reported additional details of his death after confirming it with Atlanta police and the Fulton medical examiner. Lost N Found deleted its original post on Aug. 23 and published a revised version on Aug. 27.

After Ralston's death, his parents and sister said they didn't know he was homeless and using drugs. A medical examiner told police that although an exact cause of death wasn't yet known, preliminary indications pointed to a drug overdose.

“It is important that people know that we didn't abandon our son,” Melissa Ralston told Project Q in August. “No one knew what he was going through or that he was homeless. We would have done anything we could. I want people to know that Matthew had a very loving and caring family.”

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