FRESNO, Calif. - The community came together Friday to honor a former standout high school athlete, lost too soon. Nearly two years after his death, Valley locals are remembering Deondre Howard with a monument in his name at Edison High School.
Game day at Edison High was not about the Tigers' final score. It was about the moment players paid respect to Deondre Howard's monument minutes after its unveiling. Known as "Day Day", the former standout athlete stood at five-foot-seven, 140 pounds. Size didn't matter. "Day Day electrified on the football field and excelled as a pitcher for the Tigers baseball team. Head Coach Cliff Rold won't forget Howard's epic performance against Hanford.
"Hanford had some great, great ball players. And at the end of the day, he had given up two hits and struck out 12 and we were en route to our second Valley championship. He was that guy," said Rold.
Natasha Harrison says she grew up with Day Day and calls him her best friend. Harrison remembers seeing Howard just days before he was gunned down.
"I got to see his beautiful smile. I smiled back and that was it. I never got to speak to my friend again. A week later he was gone," said Harrison.
Almost two years later Howard would be 23. His mother says detectives tell her they still don't know who killed him and why. She's says she's looking for justice but on this day Jonte McCreary says she can hear her son's reaction to his monument.
"He'd be like man, they got my thing up there at Edison ma," said McCreary.
Now a legacy his loved ones hope will keep him close to the game he put so much into. Rold wants "Day Day" to know he was more than just a player he coached.
"That he was an inspiration. Not just to his teammates but to his coaches, the people that surrounded him," said Rold.
At least five organizations contributed to the making of the monument. Multiple individuals contributed to the cause as well.