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MLB.com Columnist

Barry M. Bloom

Greens honor daughter by reaching out to Newtown

Greens honor daughter by reaching out to Newtown

Greens honor daughter by reaching out to Newtown
PHOENIX -- After the horrific events at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., on Friday morning, Roxanna Green flew into action. As a mother and now an activist who lives with her family in Tucson, Ariz., Roxanna sensed she was needed 3,000 miles away.

"I think it was something she felt like she had to do," said her husband, John, when reached by phone on Tuesday in Tucson. "I'm glad she did it, too."

John and Roxanna were the parents of Christina-Taylor Green, the vivacious 9-year-old elementary school student killed during a 20-second shooting spree in Tucson that took the lives of six people and wounded 13 others, including then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, nearly two years ago.

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Christina came from a family with a solid baseball lineage. Her father, John Green, is a scout and national crosschecker for the Dodgers. Her grandfather, Dallas Green, had a long career as a manager and general manager, and at 78, is still a valued executive for the Phillies, the team he managed to its first World Series title in 1980.

Their son, Dallas, is 13 years old, and as a player with a live arm, is keeping the family's baseball tradition alive. Even Christina, once the only girl playing in the Canyon del Oro Little League, dreamed of becoming the first female Major League player.

Roxanna was invited to New York on Monday for the news conference hosted by Mayor Michael Bloomberg highlighting the efforts of the group "Mayors Against Illegal Guns," that is trying to legislate assault gun restrictions. She was there with a number of parents, whose children recently have been killed because of gun violence. Roxanna then made an unscheduled trip to Newtown. She wanted to console parents who were dealing with the immediate stages of the painful grief she had not so long ago experienced.

"I just wanted to tell [them] that things will get better with time," she said when interviewed by CNN's Anderson Cooper on Monday night. "Unfortunately, it's a pain that never goes away. I have a hole in my heart and I will forever. But I'm just praying for them that they find some kind of peace."

On her lapel, Roxanna wore the memorial pink pin with embossed metal baseball stitching that surrounds Christina's "CTG" initials.

The morning of Jan. 8, 2011, it was so chilly that Roxanna sent Christina back into the house for a sweatshirt before she left with a family friend to the nearby shopping center where Giffords was staging the first neighborhood gathering of her second term in Congress.

Much like the 20 children who left for school on Friday in Newtown, that was the last time Roxanna saw Christina. She was born on Sept. 11, 2001, set against the backdrop of the terrorist attacks on the U.S., and died as the result of another tragedy.

"This has been pretty tough watching all this," John Green said. "This stuff keeps happening. After [the shootings this summer] in Aurora, we really thought about getting involved. The first year, year and half after Christina was killed, we just tried to take care of ourselves. I would say we're doing pretty darn good considering the circumstances. Now we're starting to look at the rest of the country and how we can contribute.

"We don't have an exact prescription of just what should happen. It's going to take a lot of effort and some people are not going to like it. But you know what? We can't allow our children not to feel safe going into schools, churches and communities. That's just a basic part of American life we just shouldn't take for granted."

They started by founding a memorial foundation in Christina's name to fund school projects and help children in need. Roxanna wrote a book, describing the agony of Christina's death and immediate aftermath entitled, "As Good As She Imagined." A beautiful picture of Christina's smiling face is on the cover. The Greens were bent on keeping the memory of their precious daughter alive.

Through the 9/12 Generation Project, the Greens have sponsored a film and curriculum for middle school and high school students that gives them the tools to reach out in their own communities when any traumatic event transpires. The pilot program places that curriculum in every middle school in Arizona, every middle school in the five boroughs of New York and one in each of the other 48 states, John said.

And this week, Roxanna is in Newtown, trying to soothe the pain she knows all too well.

"I'm proud of her," John said. "I wasn't sure if she wanted to continue on because of the constant reminder. This really brings it all back. It really does. It's tough to take and it certainly brings back those days when we were really struggling. In a way, she found by writing a book and having the foundation it keeps Christina close to our hearts.

"But when you look at the tragedies that have happened, then you see the hope, the community involvement and people who really care, it lifts your spirits up, too."

Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow@boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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