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Howard “H” White Wants You To Get Back Up Leave a comment


Joshua Woods

“The faith of a mustard seed can move mountains,” says the smooth Southern-accented baritone voice of Howard “H” White. White is a man who, no matter who you ask on his team, his friends and family, or even strangers, has touched those around him. He is full of wisdom and communicates it in simple ways that move you. I’ve heard the faith the size of mustard seed proverb my entire life, but when White said it, it clicked, and I believed him. “I’m not saying you have to be the smartest person, the most intelligent person. No, the simple things move mountains. So, I have always believed that I had the power to make people believe.” White got a job at Nike soon after having a knee injury in his senior year in high school that thwarted his chances to get into the NBA, but he had no fear about his future and took the shift on with grace.

He ended up training the freshman who would soon be replacing him with all the knowledge he knew of the game, John Lucas. In turn, Lucas told White about a job he might be interested in — a job at a company known as Nike. “Since I was hurt, and he was taking my place, I thought I would pour all of me into him so that he could be successful,” White tells ESSENCE. “When he graduated, he was drafted the number one player in the draft. That was the person that came to me in 1982 and said, ‘There’s this great job you would love it.’ I said, ‘A job with who,’ he said, ‘With Nike,’ I said, ‘With who? He said, ‘With Nike, you would love it.’”

Howard “H” White Wants You To Get Back Up

Kindress is the driving force through any move that White makes. As you can see it has taken him a long way. Rather than bitterness, White chose to show compassion anyway. Growing up in Hampton, Virginia there were constant obstacles but White didn’t see it that way. “One of my friends before he died, he said, ‘You’ve, you’ve done extremely well for a boy from the projects.’ I said, ‘Well, I’m not from the projects.What are you talking about?’ He said, ‘What would you call government subsidized housing?’ I said, ‘Oh, I guess you could frame that up as the projects.’ And he said, ‘That’s why you have gone further than all of us. You never saw yourself as from the projects for you is just simply a place to live.’” He’s truly let nothing stop him from being who he is now.

White’s mother taught him all he knows about mindset. Before she passed she said something only twice in her life that stuck with him for the rest of his, “Even a dog can wag his tail when it passes you on the street.” This was a metaphor about kindness and respect; to always speak to someone in passing. That’s what he wants his legacy to be. “My legacy is simple. I do things because I want Momma to be proud. Wherever she is looking from among those angels, she will say, ‘That’s my baby boy. I knew he would do good things down here.’”

Howard “H” White Wants You To Get Back Up
Air Jordan

Community for White is the most important thing. He says we are all we have at the end of the day. Surrounding ourselves with those who encourage you and make you feel like you can do anything is the reason that White is successful today. “Your job is to expand your community. We can see community is five of us. We can be more accepting and see community as all of us. People need other people to believe in them.” That’s why the Jordan Brand Wings Program was founded, to nurture, teach, build up, and send off students who can garner and expand community. White wanted to give young people opportunities that they couldn’t even fathom. “We see these great athletes, and you think that, yes, they are simply great because of themselves. A lot of that is true but, I tell you, they’re really great because of others. Others that believe in them.”

The “H” Wing Air Jordan 2’s are all about White’s ability to make people believe they can fly. He was able to make Michael Jordan’s career even more prominent with getting Air Jordans “to take flight.” White is a signifier of hope. “Hope is a signal that everyone has an imagination. Use it use it to dream, use it to believe, use it to simply give you the courage to fly.”

Howard “H” White Wants You To Get Back Up
Air Jordan

The “H” Wing Air Jordan 2 embodies all that White is — a catalyst for taking initiative. The wings are placed in a resting state as if you have to make a run for it before taking a leap of faith. It represents fearlessness, something that White preached when we spoke. Another simple statement that seemed to shatter any self-doubt, he said, “When you fall, there’s nothing wrong with falling or failing. There’s only something wrong when you don’t get back up. When you don’t keep trying.” That’s what White is about and who is, a man that has kept trying despite what life throws at him. Recently, he had undergone a heart transplant and vowed not to waste the life that kept his going. Through that, it has only taught him to value kindness and community more so than before. Giving up has never been an option, even when holding on to the loosest thread.

Article continues after video.

He reflects on his friend’s career as an anecdote about failure; “Michael Jordan never lost. He either won or he learned. And when you take that leap of faith, you either win, or you learn. And sometimes that learning is the most important thing you can ever do.”

The “H” Wing Air Jordan 2s will be available on June 10th via SNKRS.


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