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Officer Amanda Haworth remembered as `a great baseball mom'

In Amanda Haworth's family, baseball seems like a genetic trait.

``It went from me to her to Austin,'' said Robert Haworth, Amanda's father and Austin's grandfather. ``She played softball at Sunset High School -- left field. He's a shortstop and catcher -- a better catcher.''

Despite an unpredictable and demanding job with the Miami-Dade Police Department's warrants division, Officer Amanda Lynn Haworth never missed one of her 13-year-old son's Weston Red Hawks games.

``She would watch practice from the parking lot on top of her car,'' said Eric Cruz, a Flanagan High School coach who worked with Austin on his fielding. ``She'd have her dog with her'' -- a Labrador named Bella. ``She kept her own score book. She was a great baseball mom.''

Sometimes, added coach Frank Defede, ``we'd get Amanda out there in the field. She could swing a bat.''

Haworth, about five-foot-four, was in top shape, a born athlete who ran a Miami Marathon.

At 44, ``she looked like she could take care of herself,'' Eric Cruz said.

And she always did, until murder suspect Johnny Simms shot her in the head Thursday as she and fellow officers tried to arrest him.

NEWS CONFERENCE

``She loved her work. She loved her son more,'' said her father, following an emotional news conference Friday afternoon at police headquarters in Doral.

Amanda was born Aug. 5, 1966, in Arlington, Mass. She was 2 when the family moved to Miami-Dade.

Her mother, Suzanne Miller, lives in Jacksonville; Robert and his wife, Diane, live in Miami Springs.

After high school, Amanda ``got a job at Jordan Marsh,'' a long-gone downtown department store, said her father, who calls her ``Mandy,'' ``Manda,'' sometimes ``Panda.''

``Undercover, looking for shoplifters. She really enjoyed that and wanted to become a police officer right after that. One of her greatest days was the day she graduated the police academy.

``I remember being overjoyed -- and leery.''

She started with the county department on Oct. 31, 1988.

Amanda, said Haworth, protected him from much of what she did.

``She wouldn't let me in on a lot of things because I'm the father and that's my little daughter. But I worried about her every day and said prayers for her and every police officer.''

``She really wanted to take the bad guys out of the street,'' said Lis Hernandez of Atlanta, a friend for nearly a decade.

Still, she was highly sentimental, ``and she would break down. But she didn't want anyone to know that: `I'm supposed to be very tough.' ''

Amanda Haworth believed her son would play pro ball -- a possibility, his coaches said.

``She was going to see him be very successful all the way,'' Hernandez said.

`A LOT OF SACRIFICES'

She bought her home in Miramar ``with a lot of sacrifices,'' Hernandez said.

Before an emotional news conference at police headquarters in Doral, reporters were given a written statement from police Sgt. Rosie Diaz, his daughter's ``very close friend,'' according to Robert Haworth.

Amanda was ``much more than a dedicated officer to those who were fortunate enough to share her on a personal level. Amanda was a mother who . . . dreamt of giving Austin a career in baseball. She was compassionate and giving. . .,'' Diaz wrote.

Calling Haworth her companion of more than 10 years, Diaz wrote: ``[W]hen the days are long the nights are dark, I will find comfort in knowing that she will be forevermore a shining star up above. I will always love her.''

In addition to her son, parents and stepparents, Amanda Haworth is survived by sisters Holly Strine, Jennifer Ressler and Kristin Taveras.

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