His sister described him as "open, sociable and likable."
Siraje Hussein Abdi, 32, was on his way to meet his sister and brother in Nairobi Sunday when the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 jet in which he was flying crashed six minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa's Bole International Airport.
Abdi had been in Morocco for three months visiting his wife and decided to travel to Nairobi to meet his siblings, whom he had not seen in years.
"He called my sister from Addis Ababa. He told them what time his plane is arriving, and said he needs to be picked up from the airport," Abdi's sister Ardo told VOA Somali.
Abdi, also known as Mu'ad, was among eight U.S. citizens who died in the crash.
His family of 13 siblings is now gathering in Addis Ababa to console each other, waiting for their brother's body to be recovered.
Abdi arrived in the United States in 2002, where he lived with his brother Hassan and attended South High School in Denver, Colorado.
"He was brainy," Hassan said.
Abdi completed high school in 2005. The following year, he moved to St. Cloud, Minnesota, where many Somalis were being resettled through a U.S. government program. He became a U.S. citizen in 2007.
He briefly attended college but left to find work to support himself and his large family, including his mother who still lives in Gurra'a, the Somali region of Ethiopia where he was born.
Three years ago, Ardo said, he bought a truck and became a driver, transporting goods between cities.
"He was social, generous. People loved him,” Ardo said. "May Allah give him mercy."