NBA center Dwight David Howard Jr. is beginning the next phase of his career with a new team and in a new town. Having spent the 2012/2013 season with the Los Angeles Lakers, which was shortened due to his back surgery, Dwight became a free agent on July 1, 2013 and announced his decision to join the Houston Rockets on July 5. He is now poised and ready to bring his skill, athleticism and “Rocketman” talents to the court joining James Harden, Chandler Parsons and NBA Hall of Famer, Coach Kevin McHale. He is extremely excited about joining the Rockets and says, “I put in a lot of work to get to the NBA and to be successful in this league. I’m just grateful to have the opportunity to play with so many outstanding players and to show the fans in Houston what I have to offer.”
Dwight Howard’s resume belies his 27 years of age. In eight seasons with the Orlando Magic, he averaged a double-double of points and rebounds – accumulating thirty-one (31) 20 point/20 rebound games and four (4) 30 point/20 rebounds efforts and once a pinnacle 32 points 25 rebounds and 10 blocks (largest stat line in 20 years). He is a seven time NBA All-Star, an Olympic Gold medalist and the first player in NBA history to earn the honor of NBA Defensive Player of the year for three straight seasons. Only Dikembe Mutombo and Ben Wallace, with four each, have won the award more times.
Dwight’s exuberance is as electrifying to fans, as is his physical prowess is. Simply put, Mr. Howard is one of the best examples of power and personality that the NBA has seen in decades and his hard work has earned him the respect and admiration of his peers and predecessors His enthusiasm both on and off the court stems from a genuine appreciation for life. Dwight shares, “I’m just blessed to be alive. My mom lost seven kids. I was supposed to be the eighth kid to die. The doctor told her I wasn’t going to make it either. So I’m just happy to have life and I’m going to show that every day.”
Like his smile, Dwight’s unique star shines worldwide. Despite his age, he is recognized as an international ambassador for today’s NBA. On the court he helped return the USA to Olympic glory in Beijing as a prestigious member of 2008’s Gold Medal earning “Redeem Team.” Off-court he consistently tours the globe in efforts to expand the league’s charitable reach. And he has established his own charitable initiatives as well.
In 2011 the NBA Community Assist Award winner expanded his focus and launched the D12 Foundation whose mission is to “plant seeds, cultivate them and watch them grow.” The D12 Foundation is determined to change the lives of youth in American and International communities one day at a time. The foundation maintains four pillars when implementing projects: (1) to promote education; (2) to sow seeds of generosity; (3) to champion leadership and inspire dreams; and (4) to inspire hope and recovery in unexpected times.
The D12 Foundation supports many organizations that include establishing a Teen Playroom at the Walt Disney Pavilion at Florida Hospital for Children, support of the Beta Center in Orlando, FL and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and a school lunch program at Lake Como Elementary through Blessings in a Backpack. His international support has touched the lives of youth in Haiti with school programs and lunch programs after the devastating earthquake, and the establishment of two schoolgirl dormitories in the Republic of Tanzania. After the devastating tornados in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Dwight and the D12 Foundation rolled up their sleeves and helped rebuild homes, stock supplies and supported the town in hope with a BBQ to take their minds off the pain of losing loved ones. The D12 Foundation also continues generous support of the Dwight D. Howard and Sheryl H. Howard Foundation established by his parents to support education and youth development in his hometown in Atlanta, GA.
The NBA Hall-of-Fame is a goal for Dwight Howard. And he plans to achieve much more, including an NBA championship, in his career. However, the newest member of the Rockets knows that being successful is more than stats, championship rings and accolades. “I have a great opportunity to become one of the best big men to ever play the game,” Dwight says. “Playing in Houston and having the opportunity to be coached by Kevin McHale, work out with Hakeem Olajuwon and play with James, Chandler and the rest of the team is something I am looking forward to. However, I do want my legacy to be bigger and better off the court than it is on the court. I want to help people. And basketball is just a platform for all the things that I want to accomplish in life.”