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Stepping Up 

Major League Baseball pays tribute to the youngest victim of Jan. 8

And then there is 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green. Christina was an A student, a dancer, a gymnast and a swimmer. She often proclaimed that she wanted to be the first woman to play in the major leagues, and as the only girl on her Little League team, no one put it past her. She showed an appreciation for life uncommon for a girl her age, and would remind her mother, "We are so blessed. We have the best life." And she'd pay those blessings back by participating in a charity that helped children who were less fortunate.

—President Barack Obama, Jan. 12, 2011

It was a sunny and warm Monday afternoon as the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago White Sox brought the crack of the bat back to Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium. Bases were rounded; umps were jeered; and high winds carried so many balls over the wall that it sometimes seemed like a home run derby.

On the left-center-field fence, a giant No. 12 honored Christina-Taylor Green, the 9-year-old second baseman who was born on Sept. 11, 2001, and killed while waiting in line with a neighbor to meet her congresswoman on Jan. 8.

Baseball was in Christina-Taylor's blood. Her grandfather, Dallas Green, pitched in the major leagues and managed the Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees and New York Mets. Her dad, John Green, played in the minor leagues and now works as a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

As John and his son, 11-year-old Dallas, joined Christina-Taylor's Little League coach and teammates on the mound to throw out the first pitch, the announcer reminded the crowd that the third-grader had dreamed of being the first girl to play in the major leagues.

Before the March 7 game, Roxanne Green told reporters she wants people to remember her daughter as "a giver—someone who was always trying to help the less-fortunate. She was very appreciative. She was very athletic, very competitive. She was fearless."

John talked about how the family is still learning to live with a hole in their lives. It's still hard for him to believe his daughter won't be there when he gets home from a scouting trip, he said.

"I expect to see my son, Dallas, and Christina, and one of them is not there," John said. "It's difficult."

John's first instinct after his daughter was killed "was to go home and bury ourselves and not see anybody." But family and friends wouldn't let that happen. John, Roxanne and Dallas had constant company in the heart-rending weeks that followed. Members from their church are still delivering meals to Roxanne while John is on the road.

"They know this the toughest time of the year for us as a family," John says. "I'm grateful for that."

The Greens are trying to make something good come out of the loss of their daughter. They're honoring her memory with wristbands, pins and patches on Little League uniforms. The money raised from the sales—like the proceeds from Monday's game—will benefit the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Fund, which will support programs for kids.

Roxanna hopes the philanthropy can begin with new playground equipment at Mesa Verde Elementary School, where Christina had just been elected to the student council. In the years to come, she'd like to see the fund pay for computers, sports equipment and college scholarships.

"We miss our daughter tremendously," John said, "but we think this is something she would have been very proud of."

Last week, a federal grand jury returned a 49-count indictment against Jared Lee Loughner regarding the shooting rampage.

Loughner, who is due in court in Tucson this week for arraignment on the new charges, was previously charged with attempting to assassinate Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and two members of her staff, and killing federal Judge John Roll and Gabe Zimmerman, who managed constituent service for the Congressional District 8 office.

But prosecutors were able to expand the charges by saying the Congress on Your Corner gathering was a federal event, which allowed them to seek charges related to all six of the victims who were killed, and all 13 who were wounded.

"There are no distinctions between victims," U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke told the press when he unveiled the new indictment last week. "These victims were exercising one of the most precious and fundamental rights of American citizens—the right to meet freely, openly and peaceably with their member of Congress. It is a civil right."

Despite the new federal indictment, Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall is still expected to seek state charges against Loughner.

If convicted in federal court, Loughner could face the death penalty.

While prosecutors say they can be ready for trial by September, Loughner's public defender, Judy Clarke, has filed a motion to delay the trial until 2012 or 2013, so she can research Loughner's mental state and properly prepare a capital-punishment defense.

Robbie Sherwood, spokesman for U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, said the office would be responding to Clarke's motion in court.

More by Jim Nintzel

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