SOUTH LOOP — Friends of slain student Kevin Ambrose took to song and spoken word at one of his favorite hangouts Wednesday night to remember the bright and dedicated teen.
Ambrose was shot and killed Tuesday night at the 47th Street Green Line station, less than two blocks from his home. He had offered to meet his friend at the "L" so he wouldn't have to walk it by himself, family said.
That friend, Michael Dye, held an honorary red candle as spoken word poets and rappers performed for the slain teen. The library's YouMedia room, which, in the past has been home to local creative minds such as Chance the Rapper, was nearly filled with mourners.
"This morning Chicago killed another kid. Another kid I know," the rapper tweeted Wednesday. "I'm scared I will die in Chicago from gun violence. ... We're not supposed to be dying like this."
He also tweeted that the amount of murder and violence in Chicago is "not normal." But the ceremony focused on Ambrose's life — not his death.
"I didn't want his death to be used politically, so this is so beautiful — my head has stopped pounding for a minute," said Tykeria Willis, 19.
Willis, a political science major, had seen Ambrose's body the night he was killed, but didn't know it was him until the next morning when the news was all over Facebook.
Her friend, Brittany Stokes, was in tears as she remembered Ambrose. Stokes said he is the third person she knows this year to have died from gun violence in the city.
"We have to go through our friends dying," the 20-year-old said. "I feel this city is some type of poison — it's hitting too close to home."
As performers spoke in honor of Ambrose, Willis and Stokes, both of whom went to high school with Ambrose and are now making their way through college, said the biggest problem facing the city in the future will be its lack of motivated youth.
"I have to really think about if I want to come back here," said Stokes, who leaves for the Disney College Program in August. "To have to wonder if every call I get is going to be a negative one."
Willis, however, said she intends to stay and become a criminal justice lawyer.
"I think by me staying, I might be able to help more people," she said.
Dye, who was the first to see Ambrose lying by the Green Line station, said he'll always remember the last time he spent with his friend before his death.
"Two weeks before this happened, we were just talking about life and music," he said. "I learned more about him that day than I had in five years."
Dye said he intends to fight for the construction of a South Side trauma center for adults as a result of Ambrose's death — the area currently has no Level 1 trauma facility, and Dye believes Ambrose could be alive today if it did.
"I have never been more serious about anything in my life as I am today," he said.