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South side Peoria Barbershop opening next month, honors Howard Nathan

(PEORIA) WEEK - There's a new, colorful mural of Peoria's own Howard Nathan on South Western Avenue in Peoria.

For the last few weeks, Megan Troglio, a Dunlap High School graduate, set up her paint, her ladder and brushes to create her first commissioned portrait of her career.

Troglio, ventured to the windy city to secure a degree from Columbia College Chicago - known for its arts and media program - and returned home, painting a handful of murals here too.

Recently, Matthew Slaughter, the owner of MSL Barber Lounge which is set to open September 1st, reached out to Troglio to add some history to each side of his new business.

"He said, 'Can you paint a portrait?' and I said, 'I cannot paint the Mona Lisa, but I will try my best.' Troglio joked. "It's been a worthwhile challenge though. Just to meet to meet everyone and paint something new with an actual message behind it with a person. It's been a lot of fun."

Howard Nathan lives on in the hearts of many in Peoria as a powerful point guard who played a freshman season at DePaul University in Chicago after a phenomenal basketball career in Manual Academy.

The nearly 6-foot athlete was dubbed Illinois Mr. Basketball in 1991 and a McDonald’s All-American.

Nathan also led Manual to the Class AA state championship that year, but the action didn't end there.

Nathan went on to play five NBA games with the Atlanta Hawks during the 1995-1996 season and transitioned as as Assistant Basketball coach for his former high school working alongside Derrick Both.

Sadly, Nathan became paralyzed below the waist after a 2006 car accident when an alleged drunk driver hit his car.

Fast forward to 2019, Nathan would be hospitalized in OSF St. Francis Medical Center's ICU after collapsing in his River City home.

His brother Charles Nathan and sister Angennette Nathan, never left his side as he appeared to make a recovery. But roughly three weeks later, after being in a coma, Nathan passed away.

His legacy in Peoria is most definitely alive though, as evidenced by tributes from former NBA players like Shaun Livingston - a Peoria Native - and across the city, like this new mural.

Slaughter, originally a real estate investor turned shop owner, said "His family still lives in the community and when they ride by, Nathan's presence still lives with them. Howard was a very giving person, and he set the role for a lot of athletes. Not only was he good with basketball. He was good with people." Slaughter added. He also knew Nathan.

Slaughter also didn't take credit for the idea to beautify the building with Nathan's picture, but instead shared that a local barber told him it would be a great idea and so he set the plan in motion.

The mural took Troglio nine hours altogether to complete and she beamed as she talked about how she stumbled upon the opportunity.

She did a mural for the Wabash Arts Cooridor in Chicago and says because of her work there, word traveled and she earned more local opportunities.

"Every person can appreciate art. It doesn't matter who you are or where you come from." Troglio added.

Nathan's mural is complete. If you'd like to see it, head to 801 S. Western Avenue.

Lauren Melendez

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