Riley Howell, a lifelong Star Wars fan who was killed in April while tackling a campus gunman at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, was immortalized as a Jedi Master by the Lucasfilm Story Group.
The Jedi Ri-lee Howell, inspired by Howell, appears in the “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: Visual Dictionary.” The dictionary is a companion publication to the new film and was released the same day. It is considered canon.
Lucas Seastrom from the LucasFilm Fan Relations Team sent a letter of condolence on behalf of the studio to the Howell family in May, writing “Riley’s courage and selflessness brings out the Jedi in all of us.”
“As a small tribute, our Story Group has incorporated a re-imagining fo Riley’s name as a character in the Star Wars galaxy,” the letter continued. The Howell family was asked to keep the gesture confidential until the release of the film and the book.
Riley’s girlfriend documented the experience in a TikTok video, which you can watch below.
“Riley was the biggest fan of Star Wars that I’ve ever known, ever since he was little! So when we got this letter from Lucasfilm it seemed too good to be true. Until we saw this! Thank you for giving my love the best Christmas gift this year and making him part of the Star Wars universe forever,” the video text read.
In addition to being in print, Howell also has an entry on the popular “Star Wars” wiki site Wookieepedia.
Howell was an Army ROTC cadet and granted full military funeral honors for his heroism. His likeness was also turned into a corn maze in the town of Canton, N.C.
“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is in theaters now.
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