Jasper Tyrone Howard (January 28, 1989 – October 18, 2009), known as "Jazz", was a cornerback for the UConn Huskies from 2007-2009. He was fatally stabbed on October 18, 2009 just after leading the Huskies to a victory over the Louisville Cardinals.
Howard had a tough childhood growing up in the Little Haiti, Miami neighborhood, an area known for its poverty and violence. His mother JoAngila Howard worked numerous jobs to support Jasper and his two younger sisters Keyondra and Jasmine. His youngest sister had health issues after battling a severe case of meningitis. His plan was to get a football scholarship and go to the NFL to get money and get his family out of the violent streets of Miami. At Miami Edison High School, Howard was an All-Dade County pick as a senior, and named MVP of the annual Nike Dade-Broward All-Star Game after returning a punt 70 yards for a touchdown and making a 45-yard touchdown catch. He was also the team captain.
Jasper became the first person in his family to go to college when he enrolled at the University of Connecticut. In his freshman season he played in seven games as a reserve defensive back and on special teams but had no starts. During the offseason he worked hard on the field and it started to pay off. He started all thirteen games in his sophomore season as cornerback and led the Big East Conference in punt returns. During his junior season Howard seemed to be getting better every game. In his last game with the Huskies on October 17, 2009 he had 7 solo tackles and 4 assisted giving him a total of 11 tackles in the game,a career high. In the game he also had a huge fumble recovery. In an interview after the game Jasper was quoted as saying “You gotta play every play like it’s the last play you’ll ever play.”
As it happened, that game was in fact the last game he would ever play. Later on the night of October 17, Howard and some of his teammates went to an on-campus dance to celebrate the 38-25 homecoming win over Louisville. Jasper was stabbed to death outside the Student Union Center on the UConn campus where the dance was held. On Monday, October 19, 2009 police arrested Johnny Hood 21, of Hartford, Connecticut. Police said that Hood had been charged with interfering with an officer and with breaching the peace, but that he had not been charged in the stabbing death of Howard. The case is said to be ongoing.
On Tuesday, October 20, Connecticut students held a Day of Silence in memory of Jasper, during which the community wore dark clothes to indicate that they are united in mourning. The next day there was a candlelight vigil held on campus. During the Huskies' game against Big East rival West Virginia in Morgantown, the West Virginia players wore decals on their helmets bearing Howard's No. 6 and displayed Howard's helmet and jersey while they observed a moment of silence; the team plans to carry the helmet and jersey with them on the road through the 2010 season, when Howard would have been a senior. Howard's locker, adorned with letters, cards and the poster board from the Monday night vigil immediately following his death, will also remain decorated until that time. A large mural in the lobby of the Burton Family Football Complex that features former linebacker Alfred Fincher will be replaced with a photo of Howard and a plaque commemorating his life and accomplishments. Additionally, Edsall is planning on establishing a foundation that will help urban kids pay for college and also aid families of terminally ill players, something that Howard believed was important. Further, former Miami Edison Senior High School teammate and current Clemson Tigers cornerback Chris Chancellor will pay tribute to Howard by changing his number from 38 to 6.