Facing death in the eyes can be very difficult to deal with and friends and family of Tommy Howe are facing this now. In the last issue of The Spartan, you were introduced to Howe as a former Vermont high school basketball star fighting his battle with cancer. On Feb 6 2010, he lost his three year battle. He died in Arizona where he was getting alternative treatment.
The basketball community in New England, especially in the Boston area and the state of Vermont, were affected by his loss.
Amass-Boston Head Coach Charlie Titus perhaps felt it more than most. Howe was coached by Titus for two years at Amass-Boston during the 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 seasons.
“He had a warm personality both on and off the court. He was very athletic, was never selfish. He was a team player throughout the season,” Titus said.
Howe was a member of the 2005-2006 Little East Championship Team that went to the NCAA tournament that year.
But that was before the osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer. For the last three years he fought this cancer like he fought on the hardwood. Doctors tried chemotherapy and radiation therapy, but it only worked temporarily. He had to have his left leg amputated and have a prosthetic leg put on from his knee down.
A year later, the doctors found the unthinkable for Tommy. The tumor moved from his knee to his lungs, and eventually started to spread in other parts of his body.
He flew to Arizona for alternative treatment. A fund-raiser raised $23,000 to help. But two weeks later, came the news that no one wanted to hear. Tommy Howe passed away.
Time stopped when everyone heard the news, including for some on Castleton’s campus. Paul Culpo, head coach of the men’s basketball team, recruited Howe when he was coaching at Hartwick College.
“He was a gentleman when we talked on the phone,” Culpo said. “He was a very athletic player in high school.”
Kyle Hall, a member of the men’s basketball team, talked about playing against Howe in pick-up games at Colchester High School.
“When I was in eighth grade, I went to see the varsity team play and Tommy would be playing every game. He was a great player both on and off the court,” Hall said.
Tommy Howe was my best friend and for him to leave like this hurts me deep down inside. Tommy would always stop by the house smiling as he opened the door and would scream my nickname “C-LAP!”
He would never back down from any challenge and would always play until the last horn would sound. I still remember the times we used to play AAU, middle-, and high school basketball. Every day we would joke about how we would play for Syracuse some day.
Tommy Howe fought adversity all his life. He wouldn’t complain or give any trouble to anyone. He is a person who was dedicated to his family, friends, teammates, and community. Tommy Howe was a true hero in my eyes and will forever be my best friend. Rest in peace Tommy.