Adenhart was 22. A few hours before his death, he walked out of Angel Stadium -- triumphant. He'd pitched six scoreless innings, far and away the best outing of his promising career with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
At Angel Stadium Friday night, Jered Weaver will receive the Nick Adenhart Award, given to the team's best pitcher from the previous season.
The bronze statue depicts Adenhart, a 6-foot-3 right-hander, following through on a pitch.
"He was a great kid, a great friend and a great teammate," says Weaver, chosen for the award by Angels players. "Obviously it's a little bittersweet. Obviously you wish we didn't have to hand the award out. But for it to be named after Nick, and for it to be for the Angels' pitcher of the year, I think it's a great name to go along with that award. It's going to be a tremendous honor."
Baseball fans grieved Adenhart's death throughout the 2009 season. On a brick pitcher's mound in front of Angel Stadium's main entrance, they left hand-written notes, framed photographs of Adenhart, candles, baseball caps, balloons and teddy bears.
Onto Angel Stadium's center field wall, the Angels affixed a picture of Adenhart and his jersey No. 34. There last September, after winning the American League Western Division, Angels players assembled for a celebratory photograph.
Time has marched onward, whisking with it many of the symbols of grief and acknowledgment. To Adenhart's family, the Angels offered the shrine's artifacts. Other items will go into a display case at Angel Stadium, along with a larger version of the statue that Weaver will receive. Adenhart's visage no longer adorns the outfield wall.
"You have to move on," says Tim Mead, the club's longtime Vice President of Communications. "In '78, when [Angels outfielder] Lyman Bostock was killed, the team moved on the next year. You have move on to the next year, and that's what we're doing. We honored Nick Adenhart as an organization and as a club.
Adenhart's closest friend on the team, catcher Bobby Wilson, says that Adenhart's presence is still felt.
"He has not left this clubhouse," Wilson says. "He has not left the lives that he has touched in this clubhouse, and the friends and family around him.
"I don't think any of us need a picture or anything around him. He's in our heads and he's in our hearts."
These are still emotional days for Wilson, whose birthday falls one day before the date of Adenhart's death. The backup catcher, drafted by the Angels eight years ago in the 48th round, recently made the team's Opening Day roster for the first time.
Only a week ago, Wilson was sitting at a ballpark in Scottsdale, Ariz., welling up as he watched a 16-year-old right-hander from the Chicago area pitch in a high school tournament.
The pitcher was Adenhart's half brother, Henry Gigeous.
"It was weird to watch, because everything was similar," says Wilson, 27. "The motion, the pitches, the big curveball, the pregame warmup.
"The signaling of pitches, he gave it the same way Nick did. The same mound presence. You could tell he wanted the ball, just like Nick always did. Seeing Nick do that so often and being part of it -- it was tough to watch. It was definitely difficult."
Wilson went to dinner in Arizona with several others who were close to Adenhart: Henry, Adenhart's stepfather Duane Gigeous, Adenhart's mother Jane, and Jon Wilhite, a former Cal State Fullerton catcher who survived the Adenhart crash.
To hear Wilson, Adenhart's family, friends and former teammates still have Nick in their lives.
"I know he's watching down," Wilson says. " I know he's taking care of me, looking out for me, looking out for his family, looking out for his brother Henry. And, looking out for the Angels."
When Adenhart shut down the Oakland Athletics the night before he died, Jim Adenhart was among the 40,000-plus fans at Angel Stadium. Nick had told his father to fly out from Maryland, saying he would see "something special."
Jim Adenhart, who lives in Hagerstown, Md., met with Angels manager Mike Scioscia and several Angels players and coaches last August before a game at Camden Yards in Baltimore.
At that time, Adenhart told the Los Angeles Times that he had been coping with his son's death as best as he could, going to bereavement counseling and reading several books on the subject.
"But there is really no blueprint on how to deal with this," Jim Adenhart told the Times. "Sometimes you feel like you're getting a grasp on it, and then something will come out of the blue that will set me back."
The father told of dreams.
In one, "I will see Nick in a restaurant," Adenhart said. "I'll go in, I'll get within a close vicinity to Nick, I'll see him from the back, and then he's gone. That one stuck with me for three or four days."
In another, "my wife called and said Nick will be at the house," he said. "She said, 'They made a mistake; he didn't really die.' I was really excited. Then I woke up, and reality hit. I don't know what to expect every time I lay my head down at night, but it's got to get better."
The trial for the 23-year-old man charged with killing Nick Adenhart and two others is scheduled for July.
An attorney for Andrew Thomas Gallo recently filed a motion in Orange County to change the venue.
Gallo has pleaded not guilty to charges including three counts of murder, driving under the influence of alcohol and driving with a suspended license because of a prior DUI conviction.
Also killed in the crash were Courtney Stewart, 20; and Henry Pearson, 25.
Shortly after midnight last April 9, Adenhart and friends were headed to a dance club. Their journey ended on a Fullerton street, seven miles from Angel Stadium.