Mad Ant leader believes in giving back
Since Ron Howard’s 2007 debut with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, our city’s local professional NBA D-League basketball team whose season starts this month, he’s become a breakaway star. A three-time NBA D-League All-Star, Howard became the league’s all-time leading scorer last spring. He’s also become a champion for the city, and he and his wife, Reesha, have made Fort Wayne their home, where the couple runs a sports camp each year. Learn what he really thinks of the team’s mascot as we play 20 Questions with Ron Howard.
1. Does the Mad Ants’ mascot terrify you as much as he does the rest of us?
No. I’m used to him. We’re friends.
2. How cool is it that you’ve been awarded the Jason Collier award for sportsmanship twice?
It’s one of my greatest accomplishments. And this year, two wins as well as most valuable player was icing on the cake.
3. You do a lot of volunteering in the community, between mentoring boys to working at the food bank. Why?
I just think it’s necessary. I think that’s what’s supposed to happen. I’m always looking for more opportunities.
4. You’re the all-time leading D-League scorer, the most valuable player and more – is it frustrating that you’ve not been signed to a NBA team despite being called up several times?
Yes! I don’t know why it hasn’t happened. I can’t control it. There’s not anything I can do about it. I continue to prepare. I’m still blessed to be where I am. You can have peace with it. It should be fun!
5. You’re from Chicago, but you’ve made a home in Fort Wayne. What appeals to you about this big little city?
It’s not really small, but it’s not really big. It’s kind of the perfect size. There’s a balance of the small town and big city life.
6. You’ve been dubbed the “King of the D-League.” How does that make you feel?
When I hear things like that it brings me back to the year before I played here, when my name was in the D-League pool and nobody selected me. To go from that to where I am today is an unbelievable blessing. I can remember when no one wanted me. It’s a highly competitive game.
7. How do you define teamwork?
Being able to sacrifice your personal feelings and putting everything you have into the betterment of the team.
8. What do you feel after an exceptionally well-executed play?
Relief. It’s very difficult because the other team is trying to stop you from doing what you want. To be able to execute it in spite of that is a relief. There’s a lot going into (a winning play) so when we execute something well, it’s great.
9. What’s the hardest part of being on the road for so long?
Having a family and being away from the family. I’ve got a wife and two and a half daughters – our third daughter Nola is due in November.
10. What’s the best part of being on the road?
Beating teams on the road. They’ve got all their fans there. To make them sit down in their home and have that sorrow on their face, yeah. That’s a good feeling.
11. If you could have any super power, what would you choose?
My power would be to have any super power I wanted. I’d want to be able to choose whatever power I needed at a time. Batman is my favorite superhero.
12. If the other famous Ron Howard were to direct “The Ron Howard Story” movie, who would play you?
Me, of course!
13. What’s your favorite basketball movie?
“He Got Game.”
14. You are 6 feet, 5 inches tall. Is it hard for you to play hide and seek with your daughters?
No! My daughters, Chloe and Peyton, and I play a lot! I’m agile enough to squeeze into a lot of tight places.
15. Who has had the biggest influence on your life?
It’s a combination of God for sure and my wife. She’s a special lady. We met in high school when I was 15. She’s been there for everything. I’ve known her over half my life.
16. What were you like as a kid?
I just liked to play. I like to draw. One key to who I am today is that I was able to be a kid. A lot of kids today are not allowed to just be a kid. I would come inside after being out all day, smelling disgusting, and I got sent straight to the bathroom.
17. What words would your family and friends use to describe you?
Silly, caring and fun. I’ve got children, and I’m a kid at heart.
18. What excites you?
All sorts of things – playing basketball. The success of my teammates. Support from the community. My children and their learning new things. My wife and I and the success of our sports camp.
19. What was your most embarrassing moment?
One that really stands out – it was my freshman year of high school, and we were at the city championship game. We were making a really good run, I got a fast break, and I tried to dunk and I missed and that took the life out of my team, and we lost the championship.
20. What do you want your legacy to be?
I would want people to know that I was a regular guy who worked hard at everything he did and wanted to inspire others to go for their dreams.
First appeared in the November 2014 issue of Fort Wayne Monthly.