Disney CEO Bob Iger Pays Tribute To Star Wars Fan And Hero Riley Howell

Disney CEO Bob Iger is joining in on the tributes to Star Wars fan and real-life hero Riley Howell. Howell, who died saving others in a shooting at University of North Carolina at Charlotte back in April was recently memorialized as a Jedi Master and historian in the official Star Wars canon. In a post to Twitter on Sunday, Iger called Howell a "true life hero," noting that Star Wars has always been about celebrating heroes.

In the post, Iger quoted Lucasfilm fan relations team member Lucas Seastrom in recognizing Howell's courage and selflessness.

"Star Wars has always been about celebrating heroes. Riley Howell gave his life to save others and was a true life hero," Iger wrote. "'Riley's courage and selflessness brings out the Jedi in all of us,' said fan relations team member Lucas Seastrom. 'We hope that you may rejoice in his memory.'"

The canon recognition of Howell comes in the newly-published Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Visual Dictionary. In the book, which expands on some of the elements of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, there is an entry for Ri-Lee Howell, a Jedi Master and historian responsible for putting together the sacred Jedi texts known as the Aionomica that were featured in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

"Jedi Master and historian Ri-Lee Howell collected many of the earliest accounts of explorations and codifications of the Force in the Aionomica: a two-volume combination of codex, correspondence, and scrapbook," the entry reads. "Though much of its contents would later be stored in holocrons (which have since been lost), the physical books have passages written in the hands of the original sages, carefully preserved by Howell."

In addition to Iger's tribute, Star Wars legend Mark Hamill also paid tribute to Howell earlier this month.

"SHOUT OUT to RILEY HOWELL whose courage & selflessness confronting senseless gun-violence is inspirational to us all-This real-life hero has become Jedi Master RI-LEE HOWELL in the official #StarWars canon. May his memory live on from here to eternity!" Hamill wrote on Twitter.

Howell, 21, was fatally wounded after rushing a gunman who opened fire in a UNCC classroom on April 30. According to the police, while another student was killed and four others were wounded, it was Howell's actions that prevented the shooting from having an even more tragic outcome. Howell was a lifelong Star Wars super fan and, in May, Lucasfilm reached out to the family, letting them know that Howell would be honored in the then-forthcoming book.

According to one of Howell's friends, Matthew Westmoreland, the tribute is perfect.

"It's a book that's actually been in the movie that he was the custodian of and this Jedi master who kept these records," Westmoreland told Charlotte's WFAE. "That's so perfect, because he had an encyclopedic knowledge of Star Wars. He could tell you anything about it if you asked him. The fact that he's a historian in the Star Wars universe is just spot on. Whoever did their research did a really good job on that."

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is directed by J.J. Abrams and stars Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Naomi Ackie, Keri Russell, Domhall Gleeson, Ricard E. Grant, Lupita Nyong'o, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran, and Ian McDiarmid. You can check out the official description below.

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"Lucasfilm and director J.J. Abrams join forces once again to take viewers on an epic journey to a galaxy far, far away with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the riveting conclusion of the seminal Skywalker saga, where new legends will be born and the final battle for freedom is yet to come."

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is in theaters now.

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