Family turns East Cleveland motel into housing for football mentorship program

Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 1:05 PM EDT
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EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - In East Cleveland along Euclid Avenue lies the notorious “Noble Motel,” which is a spot known to attract crime.

James Howard, and his wife Veronica, approached the motel owner this spring and asked to lease out the property.

The owner agreed to do so.

“We are thankful definitely for the owners of this establishment for allowing us to bring this concept here,” said Veronica.

Howard’s concept for the motel is a gun prevention violence program where they take young men in who are chasing after their collegiate football dreams, house them at this motel, while they attend school at Cuyahoga Community College and play football under James for “Howard Huskies.”

“Honestly, it means a lot to me because I didn’t know what I was going to do after high school and Coach Howard exposed all my weaknesses, but now all those weaknesses have become my strengths,” said Desmond Copeland, a Howard Huskies football player.

The Howards lost their son, J.J., to gun violence 10 years ago, which is what inspired them to start the program.

“It’s just a great opportunity to be able to serve the Lord and be able to help these young men reach their goals and dreams,” said Howard.

The team competing against big names like “IMG” in Florida, and on Saturday, the “Howards Huskies” will face Naval Academy Preparatory School in Rhode Island.

“I’m looking forward to the Navy game because all the hard work we’ve been putting it like the entire summer, we just want to show what we can do against a big team,” said Copeland.

Over the last two years, the Howards have helped 120 young men. Seventeen of them have gone to play for either Division I or II colleges.

The Howards say they are seeking donations to keep the program going.