SOUTH SHORE — 7,056 days.
"Moving forward doesn't mean we've forgotten what happened," said Ebony Ambrose at her son's "Celebration of Life" ceremony. "That's not the moment we want to be in for the rest of our lives."
Rather than dwell on May 7, the night Ambrose died, hundreds filled an auditorium at the Gary Comer Youth Center Sunday morning to celebrate the quirky Columbia College theater student who was good at everything but dancing.
Ambrose was "a young brother who walked every day with light," said Jitu Brown, an organizer with the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization and the master of ceremonies for the event.
The three-hour remembrance event was full of anecdotes about the 19-year-old Kenwood Academy graduate who participated in a wide range of activities from the technical side of theater to the high school football team to a youth group associated with the Joffrey Ballet.
"Kevin is a reflection of all of us and he has made our city a better place," said Kenwood Principal Gregory Jones about Ambrose, who often wore a backwards baseball cap to school and was a whiz in the school auditorium's control room. "Kevin is a student who did everything right."
Though the event was largely joyous and included performances from Ambrose's younger sister Kristen Ambrose on the piano, his high school choir, and the After School Matters Hip Hop Ensemble, a few speakers hoped to use Ambrose's death as a catalyst for change.
Michael Dye, the friend Ambrose was going to meet the night he died, and Justin Harris, who was with Ambrose immediately before the shooting, plan to fight for a trauma center on the city's South Side.
The two friends believe had ambulances taken Ambrose to a hospital closer than Stroger Hospital on the Near West Side, the 19-year-old would've had a chance to live.
The two plan to be part of a protest at the University of Chicago Hospitals, where protesters have long clamored for a trauma center in its new facilities, Tuesday morning.
Other friends, including Kwynn Riley and Charlie Riley, who aren't related, took to verse to express their emotions over Ambrose's death.
"I thought my biography would be written with an ellipsis. Instead it ends with a dot," the two said in their poem "25," written from Ambrose's perspective. "That violence in Chicago, my home, my city, was going to be the death of me. Pure ignorance now comes in form of bullets."
Ambrose's accused killer, Jerome Brown, is being held without bail.
But as a whole, the event was full of fond memories, often interrupted by laughter as people remembered Ambrose's dedicated inability to dance.
The ceremony was bookended by piano performances by Kristen Ambrose, starting with the Superman theme, an homage to Ambrose's favorite superhero, and the Peanuts theme song.
"If I'm not crying, you shouldn't be crying," said Kristin Ambrose.