PEORIA, Ill. — One day after the death of Peoria basketball royalty, friends and family are remember the greatness of Howard Nathan.
Nathan, 47, died Sunday after a nearly three week stay in the hospital. A cause of death was not released.
Nathan was Peoria’s first Mr. Basketball award winner as the top high school player in Illinois. He won that award as a senior for Peoria Manual in 1991.
“Everybody wanted to be Howard Nathan. Everybody,” said former Manual star player Willie Coleman, who was a part of Manual’s run to four consecutive state titles between 1994-1997.
Nathan, who was the shortest Mr. basketball winner at 5-10, went on to play college basketball at DePaul and Louisiana-Monroe. He had a brief NBA career with the Atlanta Hawks.
“I think it’s well known around the city that he’s probably the greatest payer to come out of Peoria at the high school level,” said 15-year NBA veteran Shaun Livingston, a former Peoria High School All-American. “He set the standard for the Peoria Pipeline, if you will.”
A 2006 car accident left him paralyzed from the waist down. But it didn’t slow Howard Nathan from influencing more hoops stars.
He became an assistant coach at manual under Derrick Booth.
“He also taught individuals how to be a warrior at heart. Howard never had a bad day, he never complained,” said Booth, Nathan’s high school teammate for four years. “Every day he came in with his wheelchair, despite his situation, you never heard him complain once.”
Memorial services are now set. The funeral Saturday at Church of the Living God in Peoria at 10 a.m.
Visitation is at 9 a.m. Saturday at the church located at 2815 W. Lake Avenue.
“He never complained, he always had a good spirit, he always encouraged others. Even when he is not feeling food,” said brother Charles Nathan. “Most people don’t do that.”