Michael Vaz Obituary, Death – In 1999, the youth boys basketball league in Springfield was astonished by the dominance of a particular team. This team, led by an eighth-grader named Mike Vaz, achieved a perfect 10-0 record, leaving opponents in awe of their skill and talent. Standing at six feet tall, Vaz played with remarkable versatility, assuming the roles of both a dominant center on defense and an agile point guard on offense.
As word spread of his exceptional abilities, curiosity turned into admiration as players and spectators witnessed his incredible speed, accurate shooting, and shot-blocking prowess. Mike Vaz went on to become a celebrated athlete at the High School of Commerce, excelling in both basketball and football. However, on a tragic Friday morning, the Springfield community was devastated to learn of Mike Vaz’s untimely passing at the age of 38.
A Phenomenal High School Career:
After leaving a lasting impression on the youth basketball league, Mike Vaz continued his sporting journey at the High School of Commerce. Graduating in 2003, he left behind an impressive legacy, scoring a total of 1,274 points throughout his basketball career. His exceptional performance on the court earned him the prestigious John “Honey” Lahovich Award, recognizing him as the best player in the region. Vaz’s sporting talents extended beyond the basketball court. He was a standout star on the football field, leading Commerce to three Super Bowl victories. Recognizing his immense contributions, he was honored with the Angelo Bertelli and Norman Dagenais awards, given to the top player in Western Massachusetts. The Springfield Public High Schools Sports Hall of Fame inducted Vaz in 2013, celebrating his outstanding athletic achievements.
A Community Icon:
Mike Vaz’s impact extended far beyond his athletic accomplishments. In Springfield, he became a beloved figure, captivating spectators with his agility and strength in both football and basketball games. Commerce boys basketball coach Lavar Click aptly described him as the “Michael Vick in Springfield,” drawing parallels to the legendary football quarterback known for his electrifying play. Vaz’s performances on the court were legendary, where he demonstrated remarkable skill and dominance. As a young player, he often appeared to be a man among boys. His untimely passing left the community devastated, mourning the loss of a local hero.
Friendship and Brotherhood:
During his time in middle school, Mike Vaz’s talents caught the attention of fellow player Brian Kelly. Through competitive matches against each other, Kelly and Vaz forged a deep friendship. Their bond strengthened when they joined forces on the basketball court and football field at Commerce in 2001. Vaz’s presence on the football team was remarkable. His combination of size, strength, and agility made him an exceptional quarterback, and his hard-hitting tackles as a safety struck fear into opponents. Kelly fondly remembers witnessing Vaz’s crushing hits that left opponents reluctant to face him. Together, Vaz and Kelly formed an unbreakable bond, supporting each other through the ups and downs of life.
The Life-Altering Shooting:
In 2013, tragedy struck Mike Vaz’s life when he became a victim of a shooting on Wellington Street in Springfield. The incident left him paralyzed from the shoulders down, confining him to a wheelchair for the remainder of his life. Despite the immense challenges he faced, Vaz maintained a positive outlook and remained a devoted friend to those close to him. His loving nature and willingness to go above and beyond for others endeared him to everyone who knew him. Kelly expressed his gratitude for Vaz’s unwavering support, acknowledging that he wouldn’t have overcome many of life’s hurdles without his friend by his side. Vaz’s impact extended beyond his athletic prowess; he was a kind-hearted and inclusive person, connecting with people of all backgrounds and cultures.
The Unbreakable Spirit:
Following the life-altering shooting, Mike Vaz displayed remarkable resilience and determination. Despite his physical limitations, he continued to work towards improving his situation and even regained control of his hands. Kelly attested to Vaz’s indomitable spirit, describing him as a fighter who faced numerous challenges with unwavering passion. Vaz’s fighting spirit kept him alive for ten years after the shooting, inspiring those around him with his courage and perseverance.
Mike Vaz’s legacy as a remarkable athlete, community icon, and compassionate friend will forever live on in the hearts of the Springfield community. From his awe-inspiring performances on the basketball court and football field to his unwavering positivity in the face of adversity, Vaz touched the lives of those who had the privilege of knowing him. His untimely passing at the age of 38 leaves a void in the hearts of many. As the community mourns the loss of a true legend, they find solace in the memories of his exceptional talents, his infectious personality, and the lasting impact he had on those around him. Mike Vaz’s story serves as a reminder of the power of sports to bring people together and inspire them to overcome challenges, embodying the true spirit of an extraordinary athlete and an even better human being.