The seven-week search for Leyland teenager Anthony Stubbs ended in tragedy this week.
Police found a body hanging in woodland close to Worden Park on Monday afternoon, and informed his devastated family soon afterwards.
Tributes have poured in for the 16-year-old boy, who went missing from his home in Leyland Lane on November 25.
A statement from Anthony’s family said: “Anthony was the light of our lives. He brought so much joy and happiness to all who were fortunate enough to know him.
“What has happened is such a shock and has left us beyond devastated; words can’t even begin to describe how we feel at the moment.
“He was such a caring and loving boy who couldn’t do enough for other people, he always put others before himself.
“He was really proud of his daughter Lily and he was such a great dad - the fact that she is going to have to grow up without him in her life is a tragedy.
“As well as a dad, Anthony was a much loved son, brother, boyfriend and best friend and we can’t see how life will carry on without him; we all miss him so much.
“We would like to thank everyone for the lovely messages of support, love and prayers.
“We would also like to thank the police for their efforts, for finding Anthony and for the support they have offered us as we try to come to terms with what has happened.
“We would now ask for some privacy so that we can remember Anthony and come to terms with our loss.”
Headteacher Piers Tolson, of Wellfield Business and Enterprise College where Anthony was due to sit his GCSE exams this year, said: “We always remained hopeful that Anthony would return, and this has come as a great shock to us all.
“Everyone is naturally very distressed at the news, and we will be making sure that staff and students are looked after in the days to come, supported by specialists from the county council.
“Anthony had been with us since Year 7 and he was a caring and conscientious student who gave much of his time to helping others.
“As a member of our student council he contributed to making changes and improvements to the school; he was also a senior prefect and head of one of our school houses.
“When we held school drama productions he was a skilled and dedicated backstage worker, helping with lighting, sound and scenery.
“We will miss him greatly.
“Our thoughts and deepest sympathy are with his family and friends at this difficult time.”
Anthony and his girlfriend of two years, Charlotte Mason, became parents in September when their daughter Lily was born.
They lived together with Charlotte’s family in Leyland Lane, and he visited his mum Denise Machin, from Southbrook Road, everyday.
He helped look after his three-year-old brother Oscar, and was close to his 15-year-old sister, Jodie.
Family and friends have been desperately searching for Anthony since his disappearance last year, and have put up posters around the town in the hope someone had seen him.
Police broke the heartbreaking news on Monday that a body had been found during their investigation.
They said it was unclear how long his body had been there, but it is thought that the tragedy happened a while ago, rather than on the day Anthony was found.