Riley Howell is a part of the Star Wars universe after being immortalised as 'Jedi Master and Historian'..
In the wake of tragedy, stories of heroism and resilience often emerge, illuminating the profound impact of selfless acts in the face of adversity. Talking about selfless sacrifices, Riley Howell, a 21-year-old UNC Charlotte student whose courageous actions during a campus shooting on April 30th, 2019, have earned him widespread recognition and admiration. His sacrifice came when the gunman unleashed chaos and terror on UNCC's campus, Howell fearlessly charged at the assailant, ultimately sacrificing his own life to thwart the attack. His brave intervention undoubtedly saved a lot of lives and prevented further tragedy. After a thorough investigation, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney was quick to commend him as a hero.
However, Riley's sacrifice did not go in vain as he got etched into the books of Star Wars. His contribution was duly recognized by his favorite franchise: Star Wars. A devoted fan of the iconic franchise, Riley's love for the fictional galaxy is well-known to his family and friends. His younger brother, Teddy, fondly recalled Riley's enthusiasm for lightsaber duels and his vast knowledge of the Star Wars universe. In a touching tribute to Riley's memory, Lucasfilm, the production company behind Star Wars, immortalized him as "Jedi Master and historian Ri-Lee Howell" in the book "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – The Visual Dictionary." With Riley embedded in the book, he has been described as a collector of early Force explorations and codifications, Ri-Lee Howell's legacy as a Jedi Master now lives on within the pages of Star Wars canon, forever enshrined in the hearts of fans worldwide. However, Riley's inclusion in the Star Wars universe began with a heartfelt letter from James Wes Carrens, a Florida man, who was deeply moved by Riley's selfless heroics. After discovering Riley's love for Star Wars and his courageous act of heroism, Carrens penned a kind request to Lucasfilm, urging them to honor Riley's memory in the Star Wars galaxy.
Touch by Riley's bravery, Lucasfilm reached out to Riley's family with a strong message of condolence and tribute. In a letter from Lucas Seastrom of the Lucasfilm Fan Relations Team, the company expressed their admiration for Riley's courage and selflessness, acknowledging his heroic impact on those around him. Riley's girlfriend, Lauren Westmoreland, was pleased with the news of her late love's inclusion in the Star Wars universe. Reflecting on Riley's passion for Star Wars and his meticulous attention to detail, Lauren expressed her views on the significance of his portrayal as a Jedi Master and historian. She went on to say, "He would absolutely be over the moon that he is now a Jedi forever," Lauren shared. "And especially one that is a historian that preserves Jedi texts! That’s how he was with Star Wars, he was very detail-oriented and could tell me every little thing."
Upon release of the film, Riley's family attended the premiere of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, they carried his memory with them, saving an open seat in the theatre and bringing his ashes as an ultimate tribute. For Riley's mother, Natalie Henry-Howell, the experience was both heartbreaking and cathartic, offering a sense of closure and connection to her beloved son. Riley Howell's heroic legacy serves as a prime example of the power of courage, love, and remembrance. Through his selfless act of heroism and his love for Star Wars, Riley's spirit continues to inspire and uplift millions of lives across the planet.