WHEN Howard “H” White knee injury ended a promising NBA career, little did he know that this setback would turnout to be a setup for an illustrious career as a public speaker and turning millions of lives for the better through Person Development programmes and writing projects.
The Self Help Bestselling book called, Believe to Achieve: See the Invisible, Do the Impossible, is one such example.
As Howard “H” White tells us, “Extraordinary people are simply ordinary people on fire with desire.”
A star in high school and a standout point guard for the University of Maryland, Howard “H” White was an NBA draft pick until knee injuries put a stop to his basketball career.
Undaunted, “H” put his other skills to use, eventually finding his way to Nike, Inc.
Now a vice president of Jordan Brand, he has been with the company for over thirty-five years.
And with Nike’s support, he founded the “Believe to Achieve” program, an innovative traveling seminar designed to encourage youth to believe in themselves and adults to mentor them.
And as a tremendous, charismatic public speaker, White’s passion and excitement for life is known to move adults and children alike.
As a youngster in his hometown of Hampton, Virginia, H was renowned as a playground legend and gained a reputation for showing up any defenders who dared to take him on.
By the time he reached his senior year of high school, H was being recruited by the likes of North Carolina’s Dean Smith and Maryland’s Lefty Driesell, who admired White’s leadership and commitment on and off the court.
In 1970, H finally chose Maryland as his college destination.
At Maryland, White looked to mimic the play of his favorite basketball player, point guard and NBA legend Oscar Robertson.
Coach Lefty Driesell even told White that if he listened to everything he said and continued to work hard, he would be just like his idol Robertson.
H must have listened because as a testament to his hard work, he was rewarded by having his nickname “H” placed on the back of his jersey instead of his last name, the only Terp we believe was ever allowed to do this. “H” quickly became a household name as he continued to produce on the court.
Maryland won the NIT and had an NCAA Elite 8 appearance in White’s last two years with the Terps.
In 1973, “H” was drafted into the NBA, where he only had a very short stint due to knee injuries. White found a few ways to make a lasting impact on the game of basketball, though, despite the early end to his playing career.
First, he served as a Maryland assistant coach for a few years where he played a large role in recruiting Moses Malone, who signed with the Terps but later decided to go pro. After that, in 1978, White signed on as a Field Representative with Nike.
And while on the job, H developed both business and personal relationships with up-and-coming athletes, one of them being a young man by the name of Michael Jordan.
In the mid 1980s, White courted Jordan after watching him shine in the ACC with the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Jordan was known for wearing only Converse sneakers while with Carolina, but when he turned pro, it was time to explore more options.
And recognizing that Michael Jordan could possibly be the next big thing, “H” put his recruiting tools to work and signed Jordan to a deal with Nike. The rest as they say, is history.
Together, Jordan and White revolutionized the shoe industry with the introduction of the Jordan Brand under Nike.
“H” now calls Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, home and holds the title of Vice President, Jordan Brand.
White is also the founder of “Believe to Achieve,” a national Nike youth movement. Today, Howard White isn’t just remembered for the “H” that once graced his uniform or his sparkling play on the court.
Instead he is also known as “the man who helped Air Jordan take flight,” raising the Jordan brand to global icon status and helping youth pave their own way to success.