Staten Island softball game honors legacy of NYPD officer who died on 9/11

A family on Staten Island honored the life and legacy of one NYPD member who lost his life on September 11th with a memorial softball game Saturday. NY1's Lindsay Tuchman takes us to the third annual celebration Saturday.

Four siblings fondly remember their older brother, who they call the bravest man they know. 6th Precinct NYPD Officer James Leahy of Staten Island died on September 11th after entering the World Trade Center to help people evacuate.

"He was the oldest of five children, " said Denise Henick, one of Leahy's sisters. "Our father died when we were very young and he was 13, and he took the role of being a father figure to all of us, looking out for us, and helping us whenever we had troubles.

"So we have so much admiration and respect for him, and then when he went a step further and became a police officer and ultimately gave his life on 9/11, that admiration and love and respect just grew even more for him," Henick continued.

Keeping his memory alive is what led them to start the Police Officer James Leahy Memorial Softball Game three years ago. It was a chance for family and friends to come together.

Hosted by the Mid-Island Little League, the event has grown and added many vendors, and organizations have donated food and entertainment.

"A softball game like this, it means a lot because my brother used to always do things with the family," said Michele Safatli, one of Leahy's sisters. "Us getting together once a year like this, it's something that he would have enjoyed doing."

"Always playing around, always joking around, always teasing everybody," said Danielle Vella, one of Leahy's sisters. "Just a fun loving guy, he was."

Officer Leahy was one of 274 Staten Islanders who perished in the World Trade Center Attacks. His sacrifice inspired many to join the NYPD, including his younger brother.

"I'm very proud of my brother," Artie Leahy said. "He's my hero, he's my hero."

And non-family members like Officer John Siciliano of the 122 Precinct.

"He's the reason why I wanted this job, and his family members also, and it's just a great feeling to be a part of this and to know him and his family," Siciliano said.

So, as family and friends enjoyed a day on the diamond, they celebrated the life and the courage of Officer James Leahy.

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