The D12 Foundation, established in 2010 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.
As one of the most recognizable sports figures in the world, twenty-five year-old NBA All-Star Dwight Howard has already built a portfolio of enviable accolades. Dwight is a 5-time NBA All-Star, has been recognized twice as the NBA Defensive Player of the Year, All-NBA First Team selection for the third straight season, and the recipient of the NBA Community Assist Award, recognizing athletes for their outstanding community support.
More than a franchise player, Dwight is a loyal and dedicated father, son, brother and teammate who off the court remains focused on supporting and empowering today’s youth with the tools to become successful. In 2011, the 5-time winner of the DeVos Community Enrichment Award established the D12 Foundation that will continue Dwight’s ongoing initiatives and partnerships with charitable organizations around the globe.
Dwight Howard, President
Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight David Howard Jr. is not just a basketball player, he is one of the most charismatic and thus popular basketball players on earth. His muscular physique resembles a 6’11 bronze statue of Apollo. His resume belies his 25 years of age while reading like the first chapter of a sports monopoly. The homegrown Atlanta, Georgian has pillared his brand on ferocious dunks and electric smiles.
His exuberance is as vital to fans, as is his physicality. His statistics are as benevolent as his philanthropy. Simply put, Mr. Howard is the most attractive combination of power and personality the NBA has seen in decades.
After procuring Naismith, Gatorade and McDonald’s player of the year honors in high school, Howard decided to forgo college to pursue his lifelong NBA dream. Since his rookie season Dwight has amazingly and consistently 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). His NBA story has been a career’s worth of basketball achievement squeezed into his initial six seasons. Accolades include five time NBA All-Star appearances, four time NBA All-Star starts, an Olympic Gold medal, 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.
Not a single post player today can match Dwight Howard’s dominance. Houston Rockets center and Chinese superstar Yao Ming has failed to near his productivity. Dwight has snatched the torch (and Superman moniker) from the hands of the world’s last grand center, Shaquille O’Neal. The greatest player to ever wear a Rockets uniform, Akeem Olajuwan, showers #12 with praise. New York Knickerbocker legendary center and current Orlando Magic assistant coach, Patrick Ewing feels his young protégé’s stats are just the tip of his maximum talent’s proverbial iceberg. “I put in a lot of work to get to the NBA,” says Howard. “So I figure if I do everything I need to do every day in the weight room and during practice I should be a dominant player.”
Dwight Howard’s statistics separate him from his peers but it’s his personality that places him in a marketable class by himself. When Dwight dunks over an opponent, instead of snarling, he runs up court with an ear-to-ear smile. When asked by Slam Dunk Contest rival Nate Robinson to assist his attempt as a prop, Dwight obliged, exhibiting a rare brand of sportsmanship. Most wouldn’t envision the League’s biggest and baddest as a smiling nice guy doing the latest dance during pre-game shoot-arounds. What they don’t understand is that the statuesque anomaly is not only taking his game serious, he’s taking life serious. “I’m just blessed to be alive,” says Howard. “My mom lost seven kids. I was supposed to be the eighth kid to die. The doctor told her I wasn’t gonna make it either. I’m just happy to have life and I’m gonna show that every day. What they don’t understand is the more I smile the more the fans smile.”
Once drafted, Howard established the Dwight D. Howard Foundation (DDHF), which provides scholarships for underprivileged children who desire to attend his alma mater Southwest Academy and grants for children interested in attending Lovell Elementary School and Memorial Middle School in Orlando. But 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 twelve areas that this foundation will support include childhood development, childhood hunger, youth education and spiritual guidance and Dwight is committed to being a hands-on participant in making a difference in the lives of many around the globe.
When Howard isn’t traveling across the United States visiting children’s hospitals or promoting literacy via the NBA’s “Read To Achieve” program, he’s trekking wherever he’s needed on Earth. In an effort to help at-risk youth around the world, one D12 Foundation project will be to continue the efforts in Haiti. What began as a sport and recreation program to help kids overcome the trauma of the earthquake in 2010 has blossomed into continued support of health care and educational development. Placing smiles on the faces of today’s youth while empowering them to reach for the stars is a constant part of Dwight’s life. Despite a busy schedule, he remains passionate and committed to providing his time and face to organizations, such as the Big Brothers Big Sisters, where he recently became National Ambassador.
There isn’t a deed more important to Dwight then his outreach to children. He takes pride and truly enjoys being an ambassador for the NBA. His yearly trips to Africa, China, Taiwan and India have given him the opportunity to share his athletic talent and leave young people chanting his name. His popularity in China rivals hometown hero Yao Ming.
Like his smile, Dwight’s unique star shines worldwide. Despite his age, he is recognized as an international ambassador for today’s NBA. Off-court he consistently tours the globe in efforts to lengthen the League’s charitable reach. On court he helped return USA to Olympic glory in Beijing as a prestigious member of 2008’s Gold Medal earning “Redeem Team.”
The mission is to lift the already towering Dwight Howard brand to newer heights so that more charitable work can be accomplished. This is why he’s recently committed himself to a second childhood passion of his: acting. He slipped into the role of Orlando Magic locker room entertainer as effortlessly as he earned his class clown reputation in school. It’s no wonder he’s already landed his first motion picture role with the spring 2010 Common and Queen Latifah-starring movie Just Wright and received thespian advisory from the likes of Larenz Tate, Martin Lawrence and Tyler Perry.
The NBA Hall-of-Fame is inevitable for Dwight Howard. Becoming an icon will be an even richer achievement. He’ll have even greater basketball success––individually (NBA MVP) and collectively (NBA Championship). He’ll achieve this with thunderous dunks, unforeseen grace and an unapologetic smile as bright as his intended home in Hollywood. In the meantime Dwight David Howard is simply the franchise giant of the NBA and superman to children in need. “I have a great opportunity to become one of the best big men to ever play the game. But I want my legacy to be bigger and better off the court than it is on the court. Basketball is just a platform for all the great things that I want to do in life.”