BENTON, Ky. -- Preston and Maddox Cope were inseparable from the start.
“We had a good relationship," Maddox said. "We pretty much liked everything the same. Did everything together, pretty much. From baseball, to hunting in the woods, to playing, fishing. All that.”
“He idolized him to the point where family dinner at a restaurant, he would wait for Preston to order, and he would order what Preston ordered," said Maddox's mother, Teresa.
Both fans of the St. Louis Cardinals, the game of baseball was a way for the two to bond.
But all of that changed on January 23, 2018. Maddox lost his brother in the Marshall County school shooting.
“Sometimes I don’t feel like he even knew who he was," Teresa said. "He idolized Preston so much; he wanted to be just like him. He started to have to figure out who he was after he lost Preston.”
Preston was a sophomore on the Marshall County baseball team, but he never got the opportunity to play on the varsity team. Five years after his death, his brother is trying to honor his legacy.
“He wanted to honor his brother, and to be able to do what his brother didn’t get to do," said Maddox's father, Brian. "That’s to play varsity baseball.”
Maddox is now a sophomore at Marshall County, and is getting that opportunity this season on the varsity squad.
“I’m trying to live up to how he played on the baseball field, and how he was well-respected," Maddox said. "That really motivates me.”
It’s what motivated Maddox to wear the number five - the same number that Preston wore as a Marshal. He also plays the same position at second base.
“Looking out there, sometimes it’s just a moment where I can just see Preston out there at times," Teresa said. "I know he'd be proud."
Five years after the Marshall County shooting, Preston Cope’s legacy hasn’t been forgotten. Marshall County named its indoor facility and its baseball field in Preston’s honor. Now that his brother is donning the orange and blue, he’s found motivation and purpose in honoring his brother’s legacy.
“When I get in the batter’s box, or before I get in the batter’s box, I always see the scoreboard," Maddox said. "And it makes me feel good that everybody still remembers him by the little stuff like that, and it drives me to try to play my best throughout every game.”
Shortly after Preston’s death, the Cope family coined the phrase, “Play like Preston.”
Maddox has worn that reminder on his wrist every day for the last five years. It reminds him to make the most of every moment.
“It drives me to live everyday how I want, because you might not be here tomorrow," Maddox said. "Just play the game as long as you can, give it all your heart and play your heart out. And leave it on the field.”
And that’s just what he’s doing, with his angel in the outfield enjoying a front row seat for it all.