Even after an amazing year of accomplishment with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Ron Howard refuses to take credit for himself. He gives it to God, the team’s owner, the coach, his teammates and most of all, his wife, Reesha.
“I understand that it’s not just me,” says Howard. “I want to make sure that everyone knows that. I couldn’t do it by myself.”
In many ways, this championship year took Howard by surprise. He never expected to be MVP. In fact, he says, his goal wasn’t necessarily to win a championship. He just wanted to do better than last season and find ways to help the team. Quietly but firmly he declares, “My goal is to try to get better. Every day.”
At 31, Howard isn’t the typical young superstar breaking into the sport. His career has had its ups and downs; in his words, “I’ve been cut from the NBA four times.”
That experience has only strengthened Howard’s resolve. In his opinion, being cut can either break a player down and make him give up, or it can make him stronger. “Fortunately for me,” he says, “it has made me get better.”
Howard’s 2013-2014 championship season with the Mad Ants is proof of that.
Besides his basketball prowess, Howard is a nice guy. If the Development League’s Jason Collier Sportsmanship Award he has won two consecutive years doesn’t confirm that, his off-court activities do. Aside from basketball, he’s passionate about working with kids. Howard volunteers at Northwood Middle School, lends a hand to high school basketball teams, conducts elementary fitness challenges and gives his time to Boys & Girls Clubs of America. He also works the public speaking circuit where his favorite topic is “anything about helping kids.”
“I truly believe that children are our future,” says Howard. “I hope that business professionals – not just me – will invest in them. We need to show kids that they are capable of doing anything.”
To put his words into action, Howard and his wife have founded a summer day camp. Besides offering campers the opportunity to try a variety of sports, Game Day Sports Camp is designed to connect with kids in order to build confidence and character. It allows the kids to make new friends, overcome shyness and learn how to help each other. Howard and Reesha run the camp personally, so they know all the kids by name, and they love it.
“When you engage them,” says Howard, “kids have a lot of really cool things to say.”
Located on the campus of Concordia Theological Seminary, Game Day Sports Camp runs all day, five days a week, for six weeks during the summer. In addition to teaching campers the fundamentals of basketball, soccer, volleyball, flag football, track and baseball, the camp offers daily craft sessions, as well as a themed party every Friday. Campers can attend for two, four or all six weeks, and parents are encouraged to drop in at any time.
In addition to the camp, Howard and his wife also coordinate a Christmas toy drive for underprivileged families in the area. It’s yet another way he supports the community he loves.
Of course, Howard still hopes to get called by the NBA, and after the stunning season he just completed, it seems like a real possibility. Even so, he knows that he’s vying for position in an extremely competitive market. “It takes a lot of hard work to get there,” he says, “and even more work to keep it.”
Regardless of where Howard’s career takes him next, his roots are planted in Fort Wayne. He, Reesha, and their daughters moved to the city permanently four years ago. “This is home now,” he says. “I still have NBA aspirations, but I understand and appreciate where God has taken me so far.”
Howard would consider his career a success even if nothing changed. “I get to play a game for a living,” he says with a smile, “and I have a happy, healthy family. You’ve got to take time to enjoy the moment.”