Slain state trooper was a 'perfect teammate,' a family man who 'lived out his dream' to serve
It wasn't an impressive stat that made Greg Rieves a respected teammate in his baseball league.
He owned a .390 lifetime batting average as a power hitter for rosters in the Chicago North Men's Senior Baseball League.
But he had a way of snapping teammates out of a slump, a philosophy for the game that endeared him to players across the region, League President Max Reising said.
"His number on my teams will never be worn by anybody else again," Reising said of Rieves' No. 55.
Rieves was fatally shot in a Lisle cigar lounge Friday, less than a year into his retirement from a 25-year career with the Illinois State Police. Surveillance video showed that a woman, "without apparent provocation," shot Rieves, 51, in the back of the head, Lisle police said.
"To go through that many years in a job situation where your life is on the line and then to lose your life in such a way, it's just extremely tragic," Reising told the Daily Herald.
Longtime friend Keisha McKinnor of Phoenix told the Chicago Sun-Times that becoming a state trooper was Rieves' dream job. He retired in March last year and planned to spend his time traveling to warmer weather and enjoying cigars, she said.
"Greg wanted to serve his community, and he lived out his dream," McKinnor said.
McKinnor described Rieves as a family man who loved sports, traveling and cigars.
"Occasionally he'd be out in Arizona, so we'd meet up and talk about our families," McKinnor said. "We both have boys around the same age. He loved his son so much."
"[Rieves] was the most gentle, kindhearted person that you could ever know," said his. "He is so loved and had endless love for others."
McKinnor attended Proviso East with Rieves and the two had kept in touch since.
"Even back in school, his smile was infectious," McKinnor said. "You just couldn't help but smile back if you looked at him."
Rieves was looking forward to the next baseball season and the camaraderie of his Bluejays teammates, Reising said. He could fill just about any position and pitched some, but he was primarily an outfielder, playing at a "110% level."
"He played the game the right way," said Reising, a close friend who knew the slain trooper since the early 2000s. "He played it hard, hustled."
Reising sent about 40 text messages to league players with the news of the shooting, and they shared the same sentiments of respect for Rieves.
He was "like the perfect teammate" because he could rally players without resorting to a "negative word to anybody about how they do things," Reising said.
"Probably one of the most supportive guys I've ever met on the field," said Reising, who last saw him in October.
Rieves' mother, Hattie Rieves, recalled her son's interest in baseball from a young age growing up in Maywood. It was also as a child that he expressed an interest in the law enforcement profession, she said.
Greg Rieves graduated from Proviso East High School in 1986 and went on to Indiana State University, his mother said. There, he became involved in the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity.
"He had a lot of friends everywhere," Hattie Rieves said. "Everywhere he had friends, friends and friends."
Those who knew Rieves -- especially those from his fraternity and baseball circles -- shared memories and tributes about their friend on social media Saturday.
Later in the evening, Proviso East classmates gathered to remember him at Ultimate Cigar Lounge in Villa Park. They declined to comment.
Rieves' mother said she doesn't know much about what happened at the Lisle cigar lounge Friday night. Family and friends were still trying to make sense of the situation as they gathered at her home Saturday night to cope with their loss.
"Everybody's OK," she said. "It's very hard on the family."