‘Couldn’t be a better gift’: 21-year-old who died protecting classmates honored with Star Wars tribute

The family of the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, student who charged an armed gunman on campus in April got a wonderful Christmas gift on behalf of Lucasfilm this holiday season. Riley Howell, 21, was fatally shot April 30 after confronting a gunman in his classroom. Since then, the Howell family says they have had a difficult time healing and living without him. “Some moments, it’s OK, and some moments, it’s ‘I don’t think I can do this,'” said Riley Howell’s father, Thomas Howell. “You just take every minute as it comes.”Riley would have celebrated his 22nd birthday Dec. 13, making this month even tougher for the Howell family. Days ago, sadness turned to excitement and pure joy following the release of the new “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary.”Lucasfilm honored Riley’s heroic sacrifice by reimagining his name as a Star Wars character. “Ri-Lee Howell” is listed as a “Jedi Master and Historian” in the book, a tribute from Lucasfilm that the Howell family says is invaluable. “This person that we love is no longer alive and for me it was gratifying in that Riley’s act, which I think of as one of pure love, was remembered in this really noteworthy way,” said Riley’s mother, Natalie Henry-Howell.Riley was always a huge Star Wars fan.Star Wars was Riley’s favorite saga the entirety of his 21 years of life.For the Howell family, who had several Star Wars-themed birthdays and Halloweens, Star Wars will now act as a forever legacy for the sacrifice their son made. The Howell family said the tribute could not have come at a better time, following a saddened December without Riley.“To place him in the Star Wars galaxy which is this epic story that he has loved since he was a kid there just couldn’t be a better gift,” said Natalie Henry-Howell. Natalie started the Riley Howell Foundation Fund following Riley’s tragic death.It is a fund that supports organizations that benefit victims of gun violence. To learn more about Riley Howell’s legacy, and the Riley Howell Foundation, visit rileyhowellfoundation.org.

The family of the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, student who charged an armed gunman on campus in April got a wonderful Christmas gift on behalf of Lucasfilm this holiday season.

Riley Howell, 21, was fatally shot April 30 after confronting a gunman in his classroom. Since then, the Howell family says they have had a difficult time healing and living without him.

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“Some moments, it’s OK, and some moments, it’s ‘I don’t think I can do this,'” said Riley Howell’s father, Thomas Howell. “You just take every minute as it comes.”

Riley would have celebrated his 22nd birthday Dec. 13, making this month even tougher for the Howell family.

Days ago, sadness turned to excitement and pure joy following the release of the new “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary.”

Lucasfilm honored Riley’s heroic sacrifice by reimagining his name as a Star Wars character. “Ri-Lee Howell” is listed as a “Jedi Master and Historian” in the book, a tribute from Lucasfilm that the Howell family says is invaluable.

“This person that we love is no longer alive and for me it was gratifying in that Riley’s act, which I think of as one of pure love, was remembered in this really noteworthy way,” said Riley’s mother, Natalie Henry-Howell.

Riley was always a huge Star Wars fan.

Howell Family

Howell Family

Star Wars was Riley’s favorite saga the entirety of his 21 years of life.

For the Howell family, who had several Star Wars-themed birthdays and Halloweens, Star Wars will now act as a forever legacy for the sacrifice their son made.

The Howell family said the tribute could not have come at a better time, following a saddened December without Riley.

“To place him in the Star Wars galaxy which is this epic story that he has loved since he was a kid there just couldn’t be a better gift,” said Natalie Henry-Howell.

Natalie started the Riley Howell Foundation Fund following Riley’s tragic death.

It is a fund that supports organizations that benefit victims of gun violence. To learn more about Riley Howell’s legacy, and the Riley Howell Foundation, visit rileyhowellfoundation.org.