The kid who taught all adults about life

Five years he fought it, the cancer in his brain. Five years is a long time when you’re only 9 and the surgeries and the chemo and radiation start and the visits to hospitals seem endless. But Howell Brown III, a kid from a little town called Clyde west of Asheville, well, he was all grown up in many ways by the time he died and then was celebrated in Duke Chapel a little more than a week ago.

He was eulogized by Duke football coach David Cutcliffe, who found in Howell an inspiration. Howell also knew well the players of N.C. Central University, where he was once awarded a football scholarship.

“He is not gone,” Cutcliffe said at the Chapel. “His influence will live and live and live.”

Yes, all around the country and the world for that matter, there are children fighting deadly illnesses and inspiring their parents and friends all around them. They define courage. They stare at death and back it down as long as they can. They are boys and girls and all are warriors, like Howell. Sometimes they even win. But perhaps it’s not just sometimes. Perhaps, in sharing their courage with others, they win no matter what.

Howell did. Yes, he did.

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