PSU Altoona’s Higley fights through tragedy


“Not everybody has someone they can relate to you know, especially like their dad,” Marshall Higley said.

From day one, Marshall Higley always had his number one fan watching.

“Just go out back, and he would sit there and watch and watch you shoot, and it’s cool to have someone there, especially at a young age, like hey dad look what I’m doing?” Higley said.

Each time he hit the court, his dad Thomas was always within ear shot.

“He was always the one sitting in the first row and I could hear him if I made a mistake, I could hear him if the ref’s made a mistake, he was probably the loudest in the gym.”

“He was a diabetic his whole life, so he was never the healthiest but he was always there and still good to go,” Higley said.

Marshall was back home after his sophomore year at Penn State Altoona, working at his family’s restaurant when something went wrong. 

“My uncle pulls me aside, and says hey look you got to call 911, so I’m in the restaurant, I’m the one who has to call 911, I didn’t really know what’s going on, I just knew it wasn’t well, so I’m telling them like I don’t really know go to 303 Madison Street, and then I rush home and it’s not a good scene,” Higley said.

Thomas Higley passed away on June 7th, 2017 from congestive heart failure.

Marshall: “Still to this day, you don’t really know how to process something like that, especially at such a young age,” Higley said.

Still in shock, Marshall returned to school and a familiar place.

“I was able to get away, and kind of allowed me to get my mind off some things and get myself right,” Higley said.

 “For those two or three hours, that’s all you really think about, it’s theraputic,” Penn State Altoona Head Coach David McGreal said.

But with each game, something didn’t feel right.

“When you’re done and you don’t have someone calling you and being like ‘hey good job’ or ‘hey you should’ve done this and that, then it kind of hits you, yeah like this is real, he’s not there anymore,” Higley said.

So Marshall did what his dad did for so many years, he kept fighting.

“Puts everything into a different perspective of how lucky you really are and makes you want to work for him, someone who wasn’t necessarily able to do all that.”

A place Marshall still loves, fill with grief knowing who isn’t there anymore, but each day, he’s reminded of something his dad taught him.

“Everyday you’re given the opportunity to go out on the court and play, or even just walk around town and go to class, and just don’t take anything for granted because you’re not guaranteed tomorrow at the end of the day,” Higley said.

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