Just back from a trip to China and about to embark on a three-country journey through Africa, India and China again, Dwight Howard spoke to children at his camp on Monday about having a life outside of basketball. Dwight has always stressed that he’s far more than just a basketball player and he’s proven that this summer by working with kids all over the world on both basketball and life lessons. Dwight’s message is a simple one: While basketball is a very important thing in his life, it isn’t the only thing.
"My favorite thing is just being able to talk to people and show kids a different side of me than just the basketball side," Dwight said from his basketball camp in Orlando where more than 400 kids participated. "That’s the best thing about it for me, making it not all just about basketball. I don’t want to be known as just a basketball player. I don’t want to be put in that category. So I have decided to do new things off the court and it’s been a lot of fun."
Dwight has certainly done plenty already this summer. He traveled to Beijing, Cheng Du and Shenyang, China and Taipei, Taiwan conducting clinics and judging dunk contests as a part of promotional stops for the NBA, Amway and Adidas. The visit to China was Dwight’s sixth, but he said he continues to be amazed by the passion and knowledge that the fans there have for the NBA and the Magic’s superstar center.
"I try to not let it get to me and I just think about all of the positives that I can bring to all of the people around the world," Howard said. "Going overseas and seeing the smiles on the faces of the kids and how hard they work was nice. And they liked having a NBA player there to teach them drills."
And more teaching is ahead for Dwight. He’s off to Senegal later this week as part of the Basketball Without Borders program. The plan is that he’ll work there with Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon. Dwight drilled with "The Dream" for a week back in June, working on footwork drills and low-post moves.
"Basically he was saying that I have to become a person who isn’t afraid to do anything on the floor," Howard said. "He said now there only certain parts of my game that I’m not afraid to show, but other parts I’m afraid to use. I have to do all of the things."
Dwight will then visit India in an attempt to spread the NBA message to the more than 1 million residents of that country. The NBA is making a marketing push into India, and Dwight has been picked to be the face of the NBA’s plans there.
Later in August, Dwight will return to China to shoot a basketball movie. It all plays into his message that he’s more than just a basketball player and has interests and missions outside of the sport. One of those, of course, is teaching kids about the game and the life lessons that he’s learned along the way.
"I kind of changed the landscape of this camp to let the kids know that it’s not all about basketball," Dwight said. "I want them to know that they have to have more than one plan of success. I’m not just a basketball player. There are other things that I do to make myself better for the future. So I want these kids to make sure that they have their priorities in line and make sure that basketball isn’t the first and only thing that they concentrate on. There’s so much more to life than basketball."