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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Vigil draws 200 to honor slain former Spokane Indians player

UPDATED: Tue., Oct. 5, 2021

Cassie Jay, on right, lights her sister Addi Jay’s candle during a candlelight vigil in memory of Chris Gradoville, a former Spokane Indians player who was shot and killed last week outside his home in Omaha, Nebraska. About 200 friends, family and others gathered the parking lot of Inland Oral Surgery Tuesday, sharing stories and remembrances about Gradoville.  (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVI)
Cassie Jay, on right, lights her sister Addi Jay’s candle during a candlelight vigil in memory of Chris Gradoville, a former Spokane Indians player who was shot and killed last week outside his home in Omaha, Nebraska. About 200 friends, family and others gathered the parking lot of Inland Oral Surgery Tuesday, sharing stories and remembrances about Gradoville. (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVI)

Energetic, competitive, amazing.

Those were some of the adjectives people used to describe Chris Gradoville, a former Spokane Indians baseball player and Spokane business owner who was fatally shot outside a home last week in Omaha, Neb.

About 200 people shared stories, cried and laughed at a candlelight vigil Tuesday night outside the former Academy of Sports Performance, a fitness facility Gradoville owned and operated in north Spokane.

“Chris forged a wide path across our country and he cultivated so many wonderful relationships,” Brian Mather said. “The large crowd gathered here tonight is a testament to the impact he made on this world.”

Mather owned Academy of Sports Performance with Gradoville, 37, and currently owns Spokane Chiropractic and Sports Injury Clinic, which is in the same building.

Keith Bell said before the vigil started that Gradoville trained his son and daughter at ASP and became their mentor. He said his children both texted Gradoville every day up until they day he died.

Bell’s children both went on to play in college. His daughter played softball at Portland State University and his son played baseball at Corban University in Salem, Ore. Bell said Gradoville played a huge factor in his children’s sports success.

“They owe a lot to him,” said Bell, who described Gradoville as an amazing, energetic man.

Paula Mykines, whose daughter worked with Gradoville, described Gradoville as a fun guy who was upbeat and easy to be around. Cierra Ervin, another who turned out to the vigil, said he was a “teddy bear.”

Andrea Dean, who organized the event, said it turned out much larger than she thought.

“Every kid that he coached, person that he mentored, Chris just made them feel like the favorite,” Dean said. “That was a gift.”

Gradoville was shot multiple times Thursday outside a home he recently leased in Omaha.

A renter at the Omaha home, Ladell Thornton, 43, is suspected of killing Gradoville, who was the director of baseball operations at Creighton University.

Gradoville joined the Creighton staff as the director of operations last fall and had played as a “standout catcher” for the school from 2004 to 2007, according to Creighton athletics. He graduated in 2007 with degrees in marketing and business and also spent four years with the Texas Rangers, according to Creighton.

Gradoville also worked in Omaha in sports performance. He lived in the Omaha area with his wife, Nikki, whom he met while playing for the Spokane Indians in 2007, according to his Creighton bio.

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