Howard "H" White is the Vice President of Jordan Brand for NIKE, Inc., and founder of “Believe to Achieve, ” a national NIKE youth movement. White was born in Hampton, Virginia, attended University of Maryland as a Point Guard (1970-1973) and was selected in 14th Round of 1973 NBA Draft by Washington Bullets (now Wizards).
Howard White has never had a problem taking what was given to him. On the streets of Hampton in the 1960s, White gained a reputation as a playground legend for his ability to exploit any defender who challenged him in open court. He went on to star at Kecoughtan High School where he attracted the likes of North Carolina Coach Dean Smith and University of Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell to what became known as “the house Howard White built.”
White attended Maryland in 1970, where he quickly became a household name to the point that he donned a simple “H” instead of his full name on the back of his jersey. During White’s final two seasons, the Terps won the 1972 National Invitation Tournament (NIT) and advanced to the final eight of the 1973 NCAA Tournament. After knee injuries derailed his ascent to the NBA, White took it in stride. For him, basketball was never an obsession. The game didn’t use him, rather, he used the game. It provided his ticket to discipline, a college education and career opportunities.
After serving on the coaching staff at Maryland for a brief stint, White joined NIKE in 1978 as a Field Representative responsible for NIKE’s Eastern NBA clients. In 1984, White was instrumental in the launch of a 6’ 6” phenomenon that would become known as Air Jordan.
White’s business acumen and personal relationship with Michael Jordan elevated NIKE and Jordan to global icon status, generating $200 million in annual sales for Jordan’s signature line. White’s career at NIKE also took flight, landing him at company headquarters in 1991 to coordinate NIKE’s entire NBA operations.
Since then, White has been NIKE’s primary liaison for several NBA and NFL superstars, including Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, David Robinson, Scottie Pippen, and Deion Sanders. After serving as NIKE’s Director of Athlete Relations, where he was responsible for fostering positive relationships with NIKE’s premier athletes in its signature sports, White was promoted to Vice President Jordan Brand, a separate business unit that includes cutting-edge footwear and apparel that sport the Jumpman logo.
Through it all, White has taken what has been “thrown out there” for him but has remained firm in his commitment to give back what he has received. White initiated NIKE’s “Believe to Achieve” program, an innovative, traveling seminar designed to encourage youth to believe in themselves and make things happen to pave a road to success.
An exuberant character and tremendous public speaker, White moves crowds and relates to children by reinforcing messages of education, focus, sacrifices and positive role models to help each child become successful.
“Each person has the right to be successful and each person can be successful. Learning how to achieve is what is missing”. White says, “When we were coming up, you had people who cared about you, not necessarily your parents. Maybe the mailman, or the bus driver asking you how you did in school. We have gotten away from that.”
One thing is for sure, White will continue taking what is given to him. And as long as children continue to give him hope and faith, he will believe in them, knowing that their hopes and dreams can and will be achieved.
Howard is the author of, Believe to Achieve: See the Invisible, Do the Impossible, available through Beyond Words Publishing. This is a handbook for all people who have a goal they don’t know how to reach or who want to help others discover their gifts.
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