Kevin Ambrose

Kevin Ambrose, who was a victim in a shooting in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago. (Family photo / May 8, 2013)

"God, I miss that boy," his sister said.

Ebony Ambrose said her son was attending Columbia College, majoring in a theater program for production. In high school he often worked behind the scenes for school productions.

He picked up dancing when he joined a program about 2009 at the recommendation of a neighbor, said Ebony Ambrose. 

"I love my son, but he's not the greatest dancer," she said. But her son  stuck with it.

The neighbor who recommended the dance program, Pierre Lockett, was shocked to hear of the death this morning. Lockett said Kevin Ambrose was involved in the Joffrey Ballet youth program as part of the After School Matters program, and traveled to South Africa three years ago.

"He wasn't a gang-banger and he wasn't involved in trouble," Lockett said. "This was a senseless act of selfishness to take someone's life who was out here trying to make something out of himself."

Lockett, who is the director of community engagement at the ballet company, said Ambrose was a very respectful, dedicated, hard worker who helped others.

"The person who did this didn't stop for a second to think how this would affect his mother," he said. "She saw her son walk out the door and never come back, and his sister had to do the same. This has caused a ripple effect. It's so close to Mother's Day and now his mother will remember this every year for the rest of her life."

Ambrose's mother said she made sure that her kids participated in structured activities growing up so they wouldn't get caught up in the wrong things. He played baseball, participated in science summer job program and other organized activities.

Still, Ebony Ambrose said she was concerned about the dangers of Chicago. Last year she encouraged her son to look at colleges outside Chicago, but he said he wanted to be close to his family.

"In Chicago you have no choice but to worry, " she said, adding that she is now considering moving.

She said she wonders now if she had moved earlier whether her son would still be alive.

"There's not a map you can follow. You can do all the right things and still come up the same outcome," she said.

Kevin Ambrose planned to transfer to a city college so he could take his general education requirements at a cheaper school, then he wanted to become a police officer.

Ebony Ambrose isn't sure what motivated her son to consider a career in law enforcement, but she said the decision fits with his character.

"I'm going to chalk it up to Superman," she said. "He wanted to help people. He wanted people to be safe."

More than 50 teenagers gathered inside Harold Washington Library Wednesday evening for a spoken word event dedicated to Kevin Ambrose's life.

His picture was displayed on a TV screen while teens took turns performing poetry about the pervasive way violence effects their lives.

"Now you're dead for nothing," Andrew Jackson, 18,  said to a chorus of teen supporters. "No good reason at all."

Jackson met Ambrose about a year ago at the library spoken word poetry forum.

The two were not that close, but Jackson said Tuesday's shooting is a reminder why youth programming like the teen poetry forum is important.

"We come here to express ourselves instead of doing what they did to Kevin," said Jackson.

nnix@tribune.com

dawilliams@tribune.com

Twitter: @neacynewslady