Ex-Wisconsin assistant coach Howard Moore gets standing ovation at game after 2019 car wreck

Former Wisconsin player and assistant coach Howard Moore is greeted by Wisconsin coach Greg Gard Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Madison, Wis., in in his first public appearance at the Kohl Center since a 2019 car wreck killed his wife and daughter and left him with serious injuries. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)

Former Wisconsin player and assistant coach Howard Moore is greeted by Wisconsin coach Greg Gard Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Madison, Wis., in in his first public appearance at the Kohl Center since a 2019 car wreck killed his wife and daughter and left him with serious injuries. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Former Wisconsin player and assistant coach Howard Moore received a standing ovation in his first public appearance at the Kohl Center since a 2019 car wreck killed his wife and daughter and left him with serious injuries.

Wisconsin honored Moore’s family during a ceremony before the Badgers’ 91-83 loss to No. 13 Illinois on Saturday. Moore made a surprise appearance and had his arms aloft as he was wheeled onto midcourt by former teammate Rashard Griffith after a video tribute aired on the scoreboard.

“You can see that he’s a fighter,” said Tracy Webster, Moore’s former Wisconsin teammate.

During a halftime ceremony, Wisconsin athletic director Chris McIntosh said the newly constructed men’s basketball offices at the school will be named the Howard Moore Family Men’s Basketball Offices.

“Howard Moore represents the best of what it means to be a Badger,” McIntosh said. “His love for this university runs so deep, and his impact on this program is immeasurable and deserves to be memorialized.”

After he was wheeled onto midcourt during the pregame ceremony, Moore was joined by former teammates Michael Finley, Chris Conger, Shawn Carlin and Webster. Moore was surrounded by Wisconsin’s current team for a photo in front of one of the baskets.

Moore was working as an assistant on Wisconsin coach Greg Gard’s staff when his family was involved in a May 2019 car wreck in Washtenaw County, Michigan, that killed his wife, Jennifer, and 9-year-old daughter, Jaidyn.

Authorities said a 23-year-old woman was driving west in the eastbound lanes of the Detroit-area freeway when she struck the car head-on carrying the Moore family. The woman was also killed.

Moore suffered severe burns from the wreck and later had a heart attack during his recovery. He was moved to a long-term care and rehabilitation facility.

His son, Jerell, was 13 when he was injured in the car wreck. He spoke to the Kohl Center crowd at halftime while joined by Moore’s brother and parents.

“I’d just like to say from the bottom of my heart, thank you, all of you,” Jerell Moore said. “You have made this journey for me and my family so much easier and so much more powerful for us to move on and to keep going forward.”

During a halftime news conference, Moore’s brother, Darnell, offered an update on the recovery process.

“Physically he’s getting very strong in his legs,” Darnell Moore said. “We’re working on getting his strength within his legs, getting his core strong again, a lot of physical therapy. … Unfortunately, as you know, a cardiac arrest does cause a loss of oxygen to the brain. There’s things we have to get back to as far as motor skills and things like that. It’s a long journey.”

Moore met with Wisconsin’s current coaching staff before the game.

“He knew where he was,” Gard said. “I know that, he knew where he was. He gave me a big smile when I saw him prior to the game and squeezed me so tight.”

Howard Moore played for Wisconsin from 1993-95 and was an assistant coach with the Badgers from 2006-10 and 2016-19. Moore also was Illinois-Chicago’s head coach from 2010-15.

Wisconsin warmed up Saturday with shirts “Do Moore. Be Moore 4 Moore” and included the No. 34 that Moore wore during his playing days. That slogan also appeared on ceremonial ties worn by the Wisconsin and Illinois staffs during the game.

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