Dec 16, 2009

UConn star Slain at Homecoming Dance

An article I wrote a while back about the death of Jasper Howard. It is a little outdated now, but is still my favorite article so far.

UConn cornerback Jasper “Jazz” Howard had the game of his life October 17th at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. Jazz had 11 tackles and a crucial forced fumble deep in his own territory preventing Louisville from scoring in the third quarter. That stop helped Uconn win 38-25. Not even 12 hours later, Howard was dead. Howard, a 20 year old junior from Miami, Florida, was stabbed outside the student union in Storrs after a fire alarm was pulled at a University sponsored dance. A fight between 2 groups that included Uconn students, and non-students broke out at the dance. Brian Parker, a 19 year old sophomore from Sarasota, Florida, was also stabbed in the fight Parker and Howard were transported to Windham Community Memorial Hospital. Parker was treated and released, but Howard was airlifted to Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, where he was pronounced dead.
Howard’s mother and step father were flown to Connecticut following the death of their son. They met with Jazz’s teammates and gave them words of wisdom to help them through this ordeal. Howard’s step father, Henry Williams said in an video, “Play this season, and play your heart out for Jazz because he’ll be up their looking down and that’s going to satisfy him, that’ll make him happy.” Jasper Howard was an expecting father at the time of his death. UConn punter Desi Cullen said, “As Jazz looks down on us, I can promise him and his family, that son or daughter will have 105 uncles.”
On October 20, the Black Student Association asked everyone on campus to wear dark clothing to indicate that the University is united in mourning. The University also held a day of silence for the first murder at the university in 30 years.
Howard came to Uconn to get away from the street violence in Miami. Chris Chancellor, a former teammate at Edison High School in Miami, also left the dangerous streets to play football in a safer environment at Clemson University. Chancellor wore Howard’s No. 6 jersey number in Clemson’s game against Miami on October 24 in memorial to his fallen friend. In an video, Chancellor said when asked about the importance of wearing his former teammate’s jersey number, “The last game I played in Miami was with Jazz in a playoff game, now I’m going down to Miami to play my last game, so it’ll mean a whole lot to wear No. 6 down there.” This tragedy struck the entire football community, especially the teams in the Big East Conference where UConn plays. Before a game between Big East teams Pittsburgh and South Florida, both teams lined up and met at midfield to show solidarity to Jazz.
UConn’s first game since the murder was held in West Virginia. West Virginia students made a banner that was displayed outside the Uconn tunnel saying, “Today, we are all Huskies.” Before the game, both teams lined up to observe a moment of silence. West Virginia football coach Bill Stewart said, “It’s all about honoring Jasper Howard and honoring a fallen brother.” West Virginia joined UConn in wearing no. 6 stickers on their helmets to show support to the friends and family of Howard. After the emotional start to the game, West Virginia jumped out to an early lead with an opening kickoff return for a touchdown. Jordan Todman responded in the first quarter with a 5 yard touchdown run to make it a ballgame. It was a back and forth game all afternoon in Morgantown with 6 lead changes. With 3:50 remaining in the fourth quarter Cody Endres completed an 88 yard touchdown pass to Marcus Easley to take a 24-21 lead. But UConn couldn’t hold on. West Virginia got a 56 yard touchdown run out of their star running back, Noel Divine, to take the 28-24 lead. UConn rallied down the field and showed tremendous heart, but they couldn’t come back in the end. After the game, UConn coach Randy Edsall said, “Jazz was proud of their effort, not of how the game turned out, but of their effort” Coach Edsall should be looked at in higher regards after the effort it took to get his guys ready after this extraordinary challenge. UConn came into Morgantown with a 0-5 lifetime record against West Virginia. The last time Connecticut was in West Virginia, they lost by over 40 points, and now, putting all that aside, and include the death of their friend and teammate, although the scoreboard says otherwise, UConn won that day.
The UConn Division of Athletics has created 2 funds for anyone that may be interested in making donations in Jasper Howard’s name. The Jasper T. Howard Scholarship is a scholarship that will be given out annually to a student athlete who plays cornerback and embodies the leadership qualities that Howard showed. When making donation to this scholarship, make checks payable to UConn Foundation-UCADF with Jasper T. Howard Scholarship indicated in the memo line. The Jasper Howard fund will assist in funeral costs, travel expenses, and to support Howard’s unborn baby.
You can make donations to the following address:
Jasper T. Howard Scholarship
c/o UConn Foundation, Inc.
P.O. Box 150430
Hartford, CT 06115-0430
Jasper Howard Fund
c/o People's United Bank
2075 Hillside Rd.
Storrs, CT 06268
Johnny Hood, a 21 year old Hartford man was charged with interfering with an officer and breach of peace immediately after the fight. Parker identified Hood as one of the men involved in the fight. On October 27, police charged 3 men in connection to the murder of Howard. John William Lomax III, a 21 year old is charged with murder and conspiracy to commit assault. A 20 year old Bloomfield resident, Hakim Muhammad is charged with conspiracy to commit assault, and Jamal Todd is being charged for pulling the fire alarm.
Source: AP, Yahoo Sports and

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