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Howard Porter dies

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by slappy4428, May 22, 2007.

  1. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Probation officer had turned his rough life around

    Police were tight-lipped about the condition of an ex-Villanova star who was reportedly near death after being found severely beaten in a north Minneapolis alley.

    By Richard Meryhew and Howie Padilla, Star Tribune staff writers

    Howard Porter, whose life on and off the basketball court was defined by spectacular highs and devastating lows, was close to death Monday night in a Twin Cities hospital.

    The former college basketball superstar, whose professional career never lived up to expectations, traveled a rough road through addiction and rehabilitation that eventually led to a job as a Ramsey County probation and parole officer, where he was responsible for keeping others from many of the mistakes he made. Yet this weekend, in a turn that stunned those who knew and loved him, Porter's badly beaten body was found in an alley in north Minneapolis.

    Police said little Monday about what had happened to Porter or why he was beaten.

    Police also declined to comment on his condition or where he was being hospitalized.

    However, several sources close to the 58-year-old Porter said Monday that the former Villanova University basketball star had suffered severe brain injury and was close to death.

    Family members reportedly were gathered at his bedside Monday night, and a vigil was held for Porter at Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church in St. Paul.

    "I'm just shell-shocked," said Mike Daly, a longtime friend and a teammate of Porter's on the 1971 Villanova basketball team, which reached the NCAA championship game before losing to UCLA by 6 points.

    "It doesn't seem real. It doesn't seem possible. He's done so much for all of us in so many different ways, and yet we have this terrible helpless feeling tonight that there's not much we can do for him."

    Porter disappeared Friday night after leaving his home about 9 p.m.

    Early Sunday, his Cadillac was found, blood in its trunk, in the 200 block of Ravoux Avenue, a neighborhood west of the State Capitol. That afternoon, police sent a plea for public help in locating him.

    A short time later, police learned that Porter had been found critically injured in a north Minneapolis alley and was hospitalized, said sources familiar with the case.

    Police reveal little

    St. Paul police spokesman Tom Walsh said that police had made no arrests in the case and had no information on suspects. And he remained tightlipped about details surrounding Porter's injuries.

    Walsh declined to confirm that Porter had been found in Minneapolis, and would say only that the car that Porter had been driving was found Sunday before police asked for the public's help.

    "It is not in [Porter's] best interests, or the best interests of the investigation, to say anything further," Walsh said.

    Minneapolis Police Lt. Amelia Huffman, however, said that homicide investigators there were working with St. Paul police on the case.

    Walsh declined to comment on possible motives, including whether Porter's job or his drug addiction of two decades ago could have been a factor.

    In the 1980s, Porter was hooked on cocaine and served time on a drug-possession conviction before he went clean in 1989 after undergoing treatment at Hazelden in Center City, Minn.

    Grief counselor were made available Monday to Porter's colleagues at Ramsey County Corrections, which oversees probation officers. No one was commenting because of the ongoing investigation and the unknown factor of whether Porter's job had anything to do with the assault, said spokesman Chris Crutchfield.

    "It's just a dark cloud is over the whole department," he said. "Our hearts and our prayers go out to the family."

    As news of Porter spread, friends and acquaintances expressed disbelief.

    'It's just devastating'

    In a 2001 interview with the Star Tribune, Porter reflected on his life and the adversity that shaped him.

    "I took a ride with the devil," he said, speaking of the drug addiction that nearly killed him. "And the devil picked me up and rolled me for awhile.

    "But I always knew, deep down inside, I felt God wasn't through with me yet."

    Poor and fatherless while growing up in small-town Florida, Porter quickly distinguished himself on the basketball court. He led the Villanova Wildcats to the NCAA tournament each year and scored 25 points in the 1971 championship game against UCLA, but Villanova still lost by 6.

    The worst came later. Porter was chosen the tourney's most outstanding player, but was denied the trophy because he had been one of several college players to have signed contracts with agents representing the upstart American Basketball Association. Villanova forfeited its tournament victories, earnings and second-place trophy and Porter was stripped of his award.

    Shamed, Porter pulled away from his teammates and drifted for nearly two decades, fighting the demons of the lost season, a broken marriage, a mediocre and injury-riddled basketball career and ultimately, drug addiction.

    By 1985, he was broke, hooked on cocaine and sleeping on the couch in his mother's house in Florida. At one point, he was so low he hocked his Final Four watch for drugs.

    After rehabilitation at Hazelden in 1989, he moved to a halfway house in St. Paul. Six years later, he got a job with Ramsey County as a probation officer. As his life turned around, he met Theresa Neal, a social worker at Highland Park High School in St. Paul. They moved in together and started a new life.

    In February 2002, 31 years after he was named the outstanding player in the NCAA basketball tournament, Porter finally got his trophy. It came from Daly and the rest of his 1971 Villanova teammates, who gathered at the school to present Porter with a plaque with his photo, name and tournament statistics.

    "That was one of the most memorable moments of my life," Porter said afterward.

    "He was such a proud man that night ... " Daly said Monday. "This is just devastating. It's just devastating. Nobody anticipated this. Nobody expected this. Nobody deserves this. My heart pours out to Theresa and him tonight."
  2. Re: Howard Porter near death

    Am I the only one who saw this title and thought it said, "Harry Potter near death?"
  3. crusoes

    crusoes Active Member

    Re: Howard Porter near death

  4. lono

    lono Active Member

    Re: Howard Porter near death

    That's just horrible ... no other word for it.
  5. kokane_muthashed

    kokane_muthashed Active Member

    Re: Howard Porter near death

    same here
  6. Rosie

    Rosie Active Member

  7. shotglass

    shotglass Guest

    Re: Howard Porter near death

    I hope young editors don't underplay this. Howard Porter was huge in college basketball.
  8. boots

    boots New Member

    Re: Howard Porter near death

    Shot, this is a perfect opportunity to see where the basketball IQ of the nation is at. Howard Porter was big. In fact his signing with an agent prematurely cost Villanova it's place in NCAA lore.
  9. MileHigh

    MileHigh Moderator Staff Member

    Re: Howard Porter near death

    He died today.

    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Police say former Villanova basketball star Howard Porter has died.
  10. shotglass

    shotglass Guest

    Howard Porter dead at 58

    RIP. Sad story.
  11. shockey

    shockey Active Member

    Re: Howard Porter near death

    r.i.p. :(
  12. NoOneLikesUs

    NoOneLikesUs Active Member

    Re: Howard Porter near death

    Apparently AP can't cough up a photo.
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