10/15/2010 - 11:12
Making Progress, Being a Leader and Giving Back
by Josh Howard

Before I get this started, I just want to thank everyone for their support. I'm thankful for those people who have supported and cared for me, and have gotten behind what I'm doing in the community.

I'll also say hey to my momma and grandma. I know they don't read blogs, but I still have to say hey.

I'm feeling pretty good progressing in my rehab. The process is going great. The medical staff and training staff for the Wizards have done a great job with me. They've been meeting with me before and after practice and that has helped me out a lot.

The surgery was for a torn ACL, but a lot of people don't know that I had work done on the meniscus as well. The meniscus is like your cushion, you have two of them and it's the cushion that your knee needs to use for you to cut and move. I had to get that sewn up too and the meniscus was the slowest thing to heal, so I had to take a little time off as far as my rehab goes.

That gave me time to reflect. I had surgery on my ankle last year, so I was kind of prepared for sitting around and just getting my mind ready for the basketball season. I had to prepare myself mentally for that and I think I did a great job. I knew it was going to be a process and I just took every step to ready myself for that process.

It means a lot for the Wizards organization to take the chance on me while I recover. I'd only been on one team my whole career, but after the trade this team has been willing to go with me all the way even after the injury. That shows a lot of character in them and builds a lot of character in me being able to stick with them and fight through this.

I've learned a lot about the system here in Washington in that time that I had to sit back. It's free-flowing, but you have to learn and know the plays or you won't get on the court. It's all about being comfortable with what you can do out there and knowing that you have to mesh with your teammates and what they do out there. You can't go out on the court unprepared as to what some guys do. We want to be a well-gelled team.

Through my rehab, I've already been out there on the floor with the guys, running dummy offenses, 5 on 0 and going through the plays. I can run, that's the good thing, but it's just going to be a matter of eventually getting out there and getting the contact. That's the number one thing for me to prepare me for the next step in the process. But I'm glad I can at least go out there and run some offense. I'm just making sure I'm staying in the loop so I won't come back and look all rusty and old.
Once I get out there, the things that I plan on doing are the same things I've been doing to get me to this point in my NBA career. That's just staying consistent, going out there and playing hard for the fans night in and night out. I'm going to try and teach these young guys on the team the right way to win and the right way to play. I think it's important to know the right way to play. It will take you a long way here in the NBA.

Being one of the oldest guys on the team is kind of different and it's kind of funny since I just turned 30 four months ago. But being around those young guys keeps me young. I'm able to share knowledge that was passed down to me when I was young playing with Jerry Stackhouse and Michael Finley. Those guys were my vets. The knowledge that I got from them, I make sure I use it out here with my Wizards teammates.

But you don't always have to be a vet to be a leader. We have John Wall in here as a rookie and he's already showing me the traits of a leader. John leads by example. That's one thing that has impressed me the most, he's just going out there and playing hard. I see a lot of myself in him with that.

The other thing that is so impressive is his quickness. John is 6-4 and the way he gets up and down that court, he moves like Devin Harris or Chris Paul. When John is already projecting to be like that, it's pretty good.

As a person, John is very mature, especially for a guy who is coming into the NBA knowing that he pretty much has a franchise on his back. I think I'm one of those guys that will kind of soften the load on him. But he's a great kid. He's from my neck of the woods, North Carolina, so we get along great. We like the same things, do the same things, know about all the areas down there. We just enjoy being from a basketball state and that's one thing you have to like about our relationship as well.

I'm looking for big things out of him this year and throughout his NBA career.

Live Positively is just one of the community services projects Josh has worked on this past year (Getty Images).

When I started my NBA career I was fortunate enough to have the chance to go away first, go down to Dallas and get away from North Carolina for the first time.

But being back closer to home now has been a great experience. I've got a lot of family in D.C. so I was able to come up here when I was younger. Now that I'm back, I've rekindled a lot of relationships with my family members that I really didn't see in years. It's turned into kind of like my home away from home.

Time off has given me a chance to have more family time with my son too. As soon as rehab is over, I shoot over to the house and get to him. I'm with him until he closes his eyes. I make sure he sees me before I leave in the morning too. That's my life right there. That's my boy. I have to make sure he understands the whole thing about basketball and daddy coming and going.

He's getting big so fast. He's a lefty, believe or not, so I'm looking forward to getting him out on the field, court or whatever he wants to do and pull out that left hand. Life is just going great. We're enjoying it.

Using what I've been able to achieve to help others has become a very important part of my life.

I know that it's tough out there. But I've been through situations in life that have made me better. I watched my mom and grandma along with my immediate family, raise me and my brother by themselves for a long time.

Coming out of high school, I was given the opportunity to go to Wake Forest on an endowment scholarship and if it wasn't for the Hall family who created that scholarship, I wouldn't have been able to get to this point in my life.

I was just a young kid with a lot of promise, a lot of upside and I just needed a chance. I got that opportunity and look what I did with it. It was something that they did out of the goodness of their heart and it went a long way. I still keep in touch with the family and my mom also keeps in touch with them.

So this summer I just felt like it was the right thing for me to do at the right time to donate back and create the Josh Howard Scholarship. Wake Forest welcomed me with open arms and jumped on board when I came to them with the idea so we just went forth with it. I have to say, it feels great to give back and just give another kid an opportunity to go to a school like Wake Forest.

Hopefully I can keep doing that. That's one thing that I pride myself on through my foundation is helping out the community and of course helping out kids. A lot of kids out there are really lonely and don't really have anyone to turn to. If I can be an outlet of any kind to kids that wouldn't have other opportunities, it makes me feel great. It's a blessing, and it wasn't something that I had to do, but it was something I really wanted to do.

It's important to me to give kids opportunities and also teach them how to take advantage of those opportunities. I have another program through my foundation called the “No Excuses” program and it's for young men ages 8 to 13. That is a very impressionable age bracket as far as developing their personality and what path they want to take in life.

No Excuses is our chance to tell the kids that it's rough, and we understand that, but there are other people out there in the same situations or worse situations than you. There are other countries out there where they're dealing with way worse than we are here. I want to show these kids that and let them know that there should be no excuse for you to not make it in this world. You can find some kind of way to succeed and push forward through the tough times. That's the biggest mission of that program.

We also teach things in a similar way at my basketball camp in Dallas. The camp is there to teach kids about basketball of course, but the number one goal again is to teach kids those life skills they'll need. We have a life skills class that they have to go to every day during the camp and I make sure that they all write an essay for me at the end of the camp. Of course we have different subjects for them as well.

It's important to make sure that they understand that there's more to life than basketball or any sport that they choose to play. I have entertainers and athletes come to help teach that lesson, that they should be well rounded. It's also letting them know that there's someone else out there looking after them.

I've seen a lot of the kids grow since we started the foundation and camp five years ago. I watch kids go to college that have been through my camps and they're still succeeding. That tells me that I'm doing the right things and teaching the right things. That's the reason why I continue to do the camp.

I've also been included in a new program in Washington D.C. through Coca-Cola called “Live Positively: Get the Ball Rolling” to educate kids on how important it is to eat right and have some physical activity.

It's an important subject and I didn't know it was that bad up here in D.C. But it all starts at the home with the parents. They're the ones that have to cook the right meals for their kids. You can't go get them a No. 1 value meal at McDonald's. We should take the time out as parents, I have kids so I have to do it too, to cook the right healthy foods. My parents did that for me. That's one place to start.

I also had no idea that they had taken phys-ed out of schools so much. I'd heard a little about it, but I didn't know it was just being taken away. When I went to school, phys-ed was like an hour and a half long, and you were actually running and playing. That served a lot of kids my age well.

But times have changed, and I think we need to get back to some of the things we used to do when I was growing up. Things could be a whole lot better. Getting more involved with bringing phys-ed back is something I want to do later on down the line and that's why this program is important to me.

Through all these programs, I want to be an outlet to those kids and just let them know that there are better things out there. Just strive for the best because that's all you can do out there. That's one of the main focal points I try to impress upon all of them.

As you can tell I can be pretty talkative but I'm happy to give you guys a glimpse into my world.

In my down time I like to talk and listen to music. You'd be surprised at some of the music I listen to. It's nothing crazy but I do step outside the box.

I don't play video games. A lot of people seem to associate athletes with video games, but I can't even tell you the last time I actually picked up a video game. That's down time for some guys but for me, I'll watch a little TV, maybe talk on the phone. I like to download music and then listen to it later.

My hat collection keeps growing and my new go-to hat is black, white and grey and it's got a boom box on the front. I'm looking at it right now. On the bill of the hat it says “Since 1990 when radio was dope.” That's been my go-to hat for the last two weeks. It's going to get retired here soon.

I'm scoping out some hats to be the next go-to, but I'm not sure yet. I just had some come in this week that I have to go through so the boom box might get put away soon.

Thanks to everyone for reading, I appreciate the support and look forward to seeing you out at the arena in D.C.!













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