Howard High alum and Houston Texans player, Devon Still, says Amy Joyner-Francis’ death “doesn’t really tell what Howard is really all about.”
News of the death of a student at Howard High School in Wilmington last week spread around the country.
Devon Still heard about it from a former Howard High classmate not long after the incident happened. “I was heart broken like everyone else,” Still said in an interview from Houston.
He said it was tough seeing his alma mater being portrayed in a negative light. “An innocent girl lost her life at a school where it’s supposed to be safe. She’s supposed to be there getting an education. It was definitely heart breaking.”
Still attended Howard for four years through 2008. He then went on to play four years of football at Penn State, graduating with a degree in Criminal Law and Justice.
Still said Howard High is not a violent place. For him and his classmates, it was a place to find respite. “To me, it was more of a family-oriented atmosphere,” Still said. “With Howard being in Wilmington, the surrounding area was not that good, but [Howard] was kind of a place that we were able to go to escape all that negativity.”
He said students need to focus on the right things to ensure their future success.”Be mindful that one stupid decision could alter your whole life,” Still said.
While Howard might be in a tougher area of Wilmington, young people can’t allow their environment to determine who they are or what they will become. “Stop spending so much time worrying about the wrong things like social media and proving yourself to other kids and trying to be tough and all that other stuff. Just put your focus on changing who you are as a person so you can change your family’s outcome and change that environment that you were raised in.”
Still has dealt with adversity since leaving Howard. The story of his daughter Leah’s battle with cancer has been widely told. Still sat out the 2015 season to help care for his daughter, who is now cancer free.
Earlier this year, Still signed with the Houston Texans. “It’s a big turnaround from where me and my family were these past two years with my daughter battling cancer and me sitting out last season in order to help her through the rest of her treatments,” Still said. “Everything is starting to look perfect about the future.”