Football helping the Howard family heal
LAFAYETTE (WVUE) - Walker Howard isn’t just any high school quarterback. In 2020, he proved to be one of the best in the nation. Howard ignited St. Thomas More out of Lafayette to an undefeated, state championship season.
“Since we were younger, we used to work all day, every day, on the weekends, dreaming about this moment,” said quarterback Walker Howard.
After the final whistle, Walker found his father, Jamie, to celebrate with a big hug. Tears were shed, but not over a trophy, more about the rock of their family, Kathryn, not being there.
“The first thing I said is she is so proud of you. He said he knew. So we didn’t talk much we hugged. It was a pretty emotional moment,” said Walker’s father, Jamie.
“I looked at him, we talked about it, just kind of embraced, and teared up together,” said Walker Howard.
Kathryn waged a two-year battle with EHE, a rare cancer that grows from the cells that make up blood vessels.
“I never really knew it was bad at all. She was on hospice. I still didn’t know it was bad, because every time I went home to go see her, she was in bed smiling big. My mom was a bad ass. She did everything with a smile,” said Walker Howard.
Kathryn lost her fight in the fall of 2018. She passed away at the age of 44.
“I still have those times when I breakdown, get upset. Especially when I get really stressed out sometimes, I’m looking for my mom. Your mom always takes care of you,” said Walker Howard.
Walker visits Kathryn at her gravesite weekly. Mother helping son heal.
“My mom was my best friend. We did everything together. I was her little boy. I try to come out here once a week. She’s someone to talk to. When you have a bad day or good day, or have someone to listen to, she’s the best listener. I really enjoy coming out here and talking to her.”
“He is brave like her. Very kind like her. He’s a leader, and not in a vocal way, just very positive. He’s a glass half-full kind of guy. That’s so much like Kathryn. Everyone that knew her, knew she was always smiling, and that’s why he’s just like her,” said Jamie Howard.
Kathryn and Walker shared a passion for football. Jamie excelled at St. Thomas More, and his son planned to do the same. The sport kept the mother-son bond strong.
“It’s something he loves so much. That’s what he told his mother he wanted to do, and he was going to be successful at it, and play in college. I think he’s determined to live up to everything he told her he would do. She loved to watch him play. She loved it,” said Jamie Howard.
Walker is only a junior at St. Thomas More, but his journey to the next level is coming into focus. He’s committed to play football at LSU. Walker is a legacy, both his parents were Tigers.
“It was a family decision. It was during the pandemic, and Coach O was calling me a lot during that time. He got me kind of hyped up. My dad played there. My mom went there. LSU has a special place in my heart, and always will be. They’re like family to me. I’ve know most of them a long time. I like to be around family, and that’s what it is around there,” said Walker Howard.
Jamie played quarterback for the Tigers in the 90′s. His time in Baton Rouge, could best be described as a rollercoaster ride. Filled with some highs, but also some disappointing performances.
“I’m going to support him either way. It makes me very nervous. I don’t want him to deal with my issues at LSU. I want him to make his own name, and do his own thing, which he will,” said Jamie Howard.
Jamie may have some reservations about Walker following in dad’s footsteps, but this is the path Kathryn and son plotted all along.
“I remember when I was dreaming as a kid, I always talked about playing in Death Valley. She was right there, keep on telling me, yes you’re going to do it, you’re going to do it. She would be so proud of me right now, everything going on. I just want to make her proud. Keep getting better, and making her happy,” said Walker Howard.
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