Listen to Chris Chancellor talk about his friend Jasper Howard, Windows Media
CLEMSON -- Clemson cornerback Chris Chancellor grew up in one of the rougher parts of Miami, just minutes from the old Orange Bowl, and can remember hearing the sounds of gunfire as he lay down to sleep at night.
"That's why you get out of Miami," Chancellor said on Monday.
One of Chancellor’s former high school teammates at Miami Edison Senior High School, Jasper “Jazz” Howard, managed to get out of Miami and away from the mean streets, earning a scholarship to play football at the University of Connecticut, and was enjoying a solid junior season for the Huskies.
Then tragedy struck, and Howard was brutally stabbed to death on campus late last Saturday night following a dance, and Chancellor was stunned when he heard the news.
"His relatives, friends called me [Sunday] but I was asleep," Chancellor said. "They said 'Hey man, you know what happened to Jazz?' And then I saw it on ESPN."
Chancellor said he then had an idea to honor his friend and former teammate – he would wear Howard’s No. 6 on Saturday when the Tigers play against the Hurricanes in Miami. So Chancellor approached Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney early Monday morning with the idea, and once it was determined that Chancellor and Clemson’s customary No. 6, Jacoby Ford, would not be on the field at the same time, Swinney gave his blessing.
“Jazz was a great friend, a funny guy,” Chancellor said. “He was an outgoing guy, and we used to walk to the halls together. He just had fun all the time, and never got into any trouble down there. All of the guys from that team were pretty close, and he was a good young receiver. We had some pretty good competitions.
“So when I heard the news on Sunday, and I thought about going to Miami and my dream coming true of playing down there, I automatically thought about putting on that No. 6 and honoring Jazz. So I talked to coach Swinney, and he felt saddened by the news, because you never want to get the phone that one of your players has been killed, so he said ‘I would love for you to wear No. 6 in honor of your friend.’ “
Chancellor and Howard both had witnessed the worst the streets have to offer, and Chancellor said he still has to watch the people he hangs around with because of the jealousies that being successful can cause.
“Growing up in Miami is pretty rough,” he said. “Sending a kid off the college is pretty great for some people and your family and friends are happy for you, but there are so people who don’t want you to be a success and go off and make something of yourself. Jazz had the opportunity to make something of himself, and he was doing that.
“A lot of my homeboys and friends got killed. They grew up living the wrong lifestyle and they had to pay the price for it. There is a lot of jealousy out there, and people don’t want you to succeed, and they don’t care if you live or die. And it’s very sad that happened to Jazz at such a young age.”