NCCU drafts 10-year-old Howell Brown
In 2012, Howell Brown was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor.
Two years later, Brown, 10, has been offered a spot on the N.C. Central University Eagles football team.
Through a partnership with Team IMPACT, NCCU players and head coach Jerry Mack held a surprise press conference welcoming Brown to the team.
“It makes me excited,” Brown said. “It feels good; I’ve got some new friends.”
Brown will be sitting on the sideline at the team’s games this season.
He has completed his treatment for Stage IV Pineoblastoma as of September 2013 after surgery and chemotherapy, with no signs of the tumor remaining, said his mother Sue Brown.
Sue Brown said football means a lot to Howell, especially the team mentality of the sport.
“I’m ecstatic and we’re very honored to be here,” she said. “It’s worth a million dollars.”
Brown entered the surprise press conference at NCCU Alfonso Elder Student Union around 2 p.m. Sunday, with the entire team chanting his name.
Mack said Brown’s presence on the sideline will be an inspiration to the players and that it was a special day for NCCU football.
“Don’t give up; keep going over the wave and you’ll eventually hit the smooth part,” Brown said when asked what advice he would give to others going through a similar situation.
Brown said his two-year journey has inspired him to pursue oncology as a profession. He said he has met kids with similar problems and wants to help them.
Sue Brown said Team IMPACT, a nonprofit that matches children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses with local college athletic teams, approached the Browns while he was at Duke Hospital and set up the opportunity for Brown with NCCU.
After the conference, Brown played games with the Eagles, including bowling, foosball and ping-pong, all the while showing his sense of humor.
“If (the Eagles) don’t win, I’ll have to get mad at him,” Brown said, pointing to Mack during the conference.
Sue Brown said that after the radiation, specialists were concerned with cognitive side effects but after they administered an IQ test, Brown’s verbal skills were “off-the-charts.”
The treatments impacted Brown’s mobility and he was required to use a wheelchair. But through physical therapy, Brown has retained partial mobility with the hopes of retaining full mobility in the future.