Tim McLean's family spoke out publicly on Saturday for the first time since his shocking death on a Greyhound bus.

The Winnipeg man's uncle read a statement from McLean's family to reporters at a press conference in Winnipeg early Saturday evening. Alex McLean said his nephew was a "little guy with a heart bigger than you could know."

"He made friends effortlessly, disliked no one and accepted everyone for who they were," McLean said.

"Tim spent his life travelling and meeting new people and always saw the good in everyone."

McLean said his nephew was a "stubborn soul and a kind one."

A fellow Greyhound bus passenger allegedly killed and beheaded Tim McLean on Wednesday night in a vicious knife attack. The attack occurred just outside Portage la Prairie.

McLean's friends said learning about his brutal death, which made international headlines, devastated them.

"I don't know how (his family) is coping," McLean's friend Colleen Yestrau told CTV Newsnet on Saturday.

"I do send my heart out to them," she said, sobbing throughout a phone interview.

Yestrau said she will visit the McLean family on Saturday and return some of the 22-year-old's belongings. McLean was a roommate, she said.

"He was just an all-around great guy. He was never in a bad mood. He always liked to have fun. No one can ever replace him. Tim was one of a kind," Yestrau said.

McLean was returning home after working as a carnival booth operator at a fair in Edmonton.

Witnesses said McLean was sleeping when a man seated next to him started to stab him in the neck and chest with a large knife. Frightened passengers scrambled to get off the bus as the man, who was not known to McLean, continued to stab his victim.

Passengers said the man ended up cutting off McLean's head and held it up for others to see.

"Maybe those passengers will forget (the incident) one day. For his friends and family, this is one of the most tragic days of our lives," McLean's childhood friend William Caron told CTV News.

Vince Li, 40, of Edmonton, has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with McLean's death. Li is expected to return to court in Portage la Prairie on Tuesday. He is in jail under video surveillance.