Syracuse Basketball’s Howard Washington: I Had a Stroke


Howard Washington

Photo credit: Dennis Nett,

Update Wednesday, March 11, 2020:
Congratulations to Howie Washington on being named this year’s recipient of the ACC’s Bob Bradley Spirit and Courage Award. Howie will be presented with the award prior to the Orange’s game in the ACC Tournament tonight. The Bob Bradley award is given annually in memory of Bob Bradley, the Hall of Fame sports information director at Clemson University who exhibited a positive attitude as he battled cancer. Bradley passed away in 2000. This is the 14th year that the ACC and the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association has given out the award. The award goes to an ACC student-athlete, coach, administrator, or other personnel in men’s or women’s basketball who has overcome significant hardship to contribute to his or her team, or to society as a whole.

Congratulations also to Mike Waters for winning an Associated Press Sports Editors award for beat reporting for his story about Howie’s stroke, which ran on and in The Post-Standard.

During the fall 2018, Howard Washington, then a sophomore from Buffalo and member of the S.U. Men’s Basketball team, suffered a stroke on campus. Fully recovered, Howie’s proof that stroke can strike at any age — and due to different causes.

Howie’s Stroke

Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, was like any other day. Howie grabbed lunch before heading to a chemistry lecture.

When he left his class, he felt dizzy. Weak and losing feeling in his legs, he couldn’t feel the right side of his body. He said it felt like everything shut down.

Receiving help from two students from his class, Howie made it to a bench and called SU Men’s Basketball team trainer, Brad Pike.

“I don’t remember exactly what I said or what it sounded like. Brad said it sounded like mumbling, but what he got out of it was ‘Help’ and ‘Quad.’ When Public Safety Officer Andrew Clary made it to Howie, his speech was still slurred, he couldn’t feel the right side of his body, and his leg was limp. Brad and Officer Clary got him in the car and headed directly to Crouse Health’s Pomeroy Emergency Services.

The Comprehensive Stroke Center at Crouse Hospital

SU Basketball player Howard washington and Crouse physiciansOnce Howard arrived at Crouse, he was immediately seen by the Comprehensive Stroke Center team. He was met by Neurologist and Stroke Program Medical Director Tarakad Ramachandran, MD (right). It was determined he had two clots in his artery on the left side, leading to his brain.

Crouse Neurosurgeon David Padalino, MD, performed a procedure to remove the clots.

>  Read Part 1 of Howie’s story on



Howie’s Heart Condition

With the clots removed, the focus turned to determining what had caused the healthy athlete to suffer a stroke. Suspecting a heart ailment known as a PFO, or patent foramen ovale, Dr. Padalino called in Crouse cardiologist Fafa Xexemeku, MD, (left) to diagnose Howie’s condition.

Extensive cardiac testing confirmed that the cause was a PFO, a hole in the heart wall that exists in everyone at birth, but usually closes shortly after.

Chief of Cardiology Joseph Battaglia, MD, and Dr. Xexemeku (known to staff and patients as Dr. Fafa) and performed a procedure to close the PFO.

SU basketball player Howard Washing and Crouse cardiologistsJust 33 days after his stroke, Howie was in the Orange lineup for Syracuse’s season-opener against Eastern Washington.

“It still sounds crazy to say I had a stroke,” Howie said. “I feel completely fine now. I’m back playing basketball again and I’m going to play next season. I can’t wait.”

Dr. Battaglia, an avid S.U. sports fan, reflects on the teamwork at Crouse that is keeping the young guard on the court. “The collaboration between David Padalino and the cardiologists was really great,’’ Dr. Battaglia said. “We’re all cheering for Howie.”

>  Read Part 2 of Howie’s story on


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What Is Carepassion

Our passion is treating you with the respect and dignity you deserve. And celebrating what matters most in your life.