I’ve always looked forward to helping my community out, dating back to my time at Wake Forest. I remember during my junior year at Wake, I dressed up as Santa Claus and had the opportunity to go into Winston-Salem households that were less fortunate than mine. We gave out gifts and things to help them through the holiday season.
Having been raised in Winston, that was a big moment for me. To give back to those people meant a lot.
A lot of them knew who I was and where I came from, and I think that made it mean more to them. Everybody appreciated that it was a hometown kid — a kid doing special things on the basketball court at Wake Forest — who was taking the time to visit with them and help them.
That’s when I knew it was my calling to give back.
I’m blessed to still be in the position to do that, and help the people of my community through the Josh Howard Foundation.
It’s always been something I wanted to do, not something that was forced upon me. I’ve always been genuine about what I’ve done for people in the community, and all the people I’ve been around for years. Just knowing that I helped a lot of people get through another year is a gift to me. That’s the part that brings me the most joy year after year.
Last night, my foundation teamed with Chris Paul’s CP3 Foundation to host the CP3 & J-Ho 6th Annual Christmas Give Back at Toys ‘R’ Us off of Haynes Mall Blvd in Winston-Salem. Chris is also from Winston-Salem, and we partnered together to do this event starting back in 2009, and I’m so glad we’ve been able to keep it going all these years.
For this event, we selected a bunch of kids to participate through my foundation and Chris’ CP3 Foundation. On our end, we reach out to a lot of the kids from my camps whose families we know have hard times around this time of year. Each kid who came to the event got a Toys R Us gift card, and got to go on a personal shopping spree with their parent or guardian.
I don’t usually get to be there myself because of my schedule, but I was able to attend this year for the second time since we started the event. The first time I had the opportunity to go back in 2011, it was a lot of fun and we had a great turnout, so I was really looking forward to it.
We had another great turnout this year, and I’m very proud of what we were able to do for those kids and their families.
The people in the community are always very thankful whenever we put on an event. I think it’s important to continue to show the love and support for them by giving back. It shows everyone in the community that there are bigger things out there than just thinking about yourself. There’s other people out there that need that affection, love and care.
We do a lot of events in the community year-round with camps and charity games, but around the holidays, we try to ramp it up a bit because a lot of people who are less fortunate don’t have the means to provide for their families during this time of year. That’s where we come in, and try to help people out as best we can. That’s my motto: Help people out the best we can.
For the Thanksgiving holiday, we did our annual Thanksgiving for Seniors event. We partnered with K&W Cafeteria Restaurant in Winston-Salem, and fed 200 senior citizens two days before Thanksgiving. That was a great turnout, and I saw a lot of people that came out before in years prior, so that was special to me.
I consider myself fortunate that these people still want be involved in the events that I put on, and continue to come out and enjoy and let me give to them. I’m very thankful that they let me do that.
I’m also thankful to have so many great people helping me put on these events, whether I’m able to be there or not. That’s one of the reasons why I think our events have been successful. It’s hard to find good help these days, and you always want to keep the circle small. But I’ve been blessed to have the same people around me since I was a young boy, and they’ve always been honest with me and never sugarcoat anything. I appreciate and love them for that.
Steve Nivens has been a big part of keeping things going, and even adding on things each and every year. I mentioned in my last entry that we started an after school mentoring program with the Salem County School District.
Right now, we have about a dozen kids who come to the recreation center Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m., and Mr. Nivens along with our outstanding volunteers from Winston-Salem State University have done an excellent job with them.
We’ve generated enough buzz that we also have some other kids from that neighborhood come in from time to time. We spend time with them and talk to them about a lot of stuff. So the vision that we had for the program is coming together. It’s a blessing that we’ve been able to carry all these things on for so many years, and now I’m seeing a lot of the fruits of my labor starting to come about. I can’t be anything but be happy about it.
With all the things we’ve been doing in Winston, I don’t want my people in Dallas to feel left out. The Josh Howard Foundation pitched in for gifts for today’s holiday event at Lakewest Rehab and Skilled Care in Dallas, and we’re working on putting together another bowling event in Dallas soon.
Due to my basketball schedule over the summer, that’s something that we missed out on doing last year. So I want to kind of make up for that. I know a lot of people down there were looking forward to me doing stuff this summer, and I didn’t get the chance to do it.
I’ve had a lot of people ask me when I’m going to do something else, and I’m really looking forward to that opportunity to put on a nice event and let people know I’m still doing things down here in Dallas as well. I love to bowl too, and it will definitely be a great time, so keep an eye out for more information on that.
OUTSIDE THE NBA
I keep getting asked whether I plan to continue playing basketball. All I can say at this point is I’m still interested, I’m still in shape, and I can still play.
I know there are a lot of opportunities out there. It’s just a matter of whether a team wants to take a chance on me. I work out three times a week, and I make sure I maintain my fitness and my conditioning. I know the NBA game is a lot faster, but I’ve never had a problem with getting in shape and competing. That’s never been a concern with me.
A lot of teams have been cautious, I guess, because of my injury history and the different injuries I’ve suffered in the past. That makes it tough. But I didn’t have an injury last year, and I didn’t have one this summer. It is what it is. I’m just waiting for that opportunity. If it doesn’t come, I don’t have a problem with turning my focus toward what I want to do in life after basketball. I’ve already been doing a lot of those things as it is.
I have to admit, I’ve really enjoyed being able to spend more time with my family and my kids this time of year. Because of the NBA schedule, a lot of times guys aren’t able to be home for the holidays. So for me to be able to be get this time with my family is great. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
A lot of my family members’ birthdays fall in this timeframe as well, so I’m kind of being pulled between Dallas and Winston-Salem. It’s kind of tough. But that’s life and I enjoy my life.
After Thanksgiving, I was able to be here as we put the Christmas tree up with the family. That’s been a tradition in my family for years, and something I love to share with my kids. We also decorated my house down in Dallas, and the kids loved it.
All the kids are doing great. My oldest son played football during the fall, and now he’s playing basketball. My daughter is sprouting up, and my other son is getting big as well.
It’s just fun being a dad right now. They’re all at that age where they can have conversations with me, tell me the things they have going on, and tell me what they want me to be a part of. Seeing your kids grow is just the best, and I’m enjoying it.
I love having them around at these events we do as well. I hope that giving spirit rubs off on them when they’re around me at different events, and they start realizing that daddy is helping.
Giving is what this season and this time of year is all about, so I’m happy to be able to share that with them. That’s what I want to be known for. Giving.
I’m so thankful to have the support of my fans, and everyone who continues to follow me, so to wrap up, let me give you something to think about that always comes to mind for me this time of year:
Life is short, so don’t take it for granted. Stay focused and do everything to the fullest.
Everybody be blessed, and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday season.