AUBURN GRESHAM — "The lasting memories of my brother, Estavion Green, will never escape my thoughts."
Ariel, 17, now plays basketball to honor Estavion, whose game-worn jersey is framed and hangs on a wall in the school's gymnasium.
It's a constant reminder for Ariel, who said Estavion was far more than an older brother to her.
"He was my closest sibling," said Ariel, one of six children. "I really miss having someone to talk to."
'Very Protective of Her'
The odds have long been stacked against Ariel.
Her mother and father have never been in her life, she said.
So, she lives in the Back of the Yards with her grandfather, Walter Jordan, who raised her with his late wife, Freddie.
Ariel said Estavion was a father figure.
When she couldn't sleep as a child, Ariel would crawl into bed with him. When Ariel needed someone to drive her to high school cheerleading practice as a freshman and sophomore, she called on Estavion.
"He was very protective of her," said Audry Peden, Ariel's senior advisor at Ellison and a Hyde Park resident. "They were very close."
Estavion founded the peer-mediation program at Ellison and was called "the peacemaker" by family and friends, so, it was tragically ironic he was the first student from the 7-year-old school to be murdered.
Estavion reportedly was walking with a group of girls when someone in a car opened fire and shot him in the head. No one has been charged.
"My last memory of him is us fighting over his iPhone charger," Ariel said. "He needed it, so he put his phone in the charger in his room. Then he walked outside, and that's when I heard shots.
"I had a bad feeling. I started calling his phone, and then I remembered that his phone was in the house."
Ariel, who did not believe Estavion was dead until she saw him in a coffin, said that summer was awful. She was paranoid and rarely left the house.
Basketball helped ease the pain. Ariel did not play hoops her first two high school years, but she felt obligated to play in Estavion's honor as a junior.
"More or less, I think basketball has been her coping mechanism," said Ellison head coach Antonio Henderson, a Beverly resident.
She played mostly junior varsity that year, but this season she's been a consistent starter.
The 5-foot-1-inch guard plays much like her brother, shooting 3-pointers with accuracy and shutting down opponents with fierce defense.
"Sometimes, she looks just like him when he played; the facial expressions, how she runs, how she dribbles," said senior Catherine Daniels, a team manager and Auburn Gresham resident. "It's like watching him sometimes."
First, the senior class vice president has to plan the Valentine's Day dance, organize graduation ceremonies and help Ellison win a fourth straight Chicago Prep Conference championship.
After Estavion's death, the school created "The Rock Memorial Thanksgiving Basketball Tournament." The name comes from Estavion's nickname "Rock" as Ariel said her brother was "hard-headed."
She scribed the "lasting memories" passage to be included in the tournament's program, and Ariel said not a day goes by she doesn't think of Estavion.
"I'm just trying to keep going," she said.