You should never meet your heroes. Most of the times, you’ll wind up dissappointed. Dwight Howard sure did.
When he was a kid, Dwight looked up to Magic Johnson. Being a basketball fan from the age of three, he idolized the Lakers point guard. Howard would watch Magic’s old basketball tapes and try to mimic his moves on the court. And he did all of it, aspiring to one day become an NBA player, just like the one he admired.
But when 15-year-old Howard got the chance to meet Johnson, he felt tricked. Why? Because Magic made it clear Dwight would never make it into the NBA. And just like that, the illusion about his idol was shattered.
He said I was too skinny.Dwight Howard, ESPN
Most people would’ve felt demoralized after hearing something like that. But not Howard. His childhood hero had just told him he didn’t have what it took to take his game to the next level, but the teenage center didn’t care. He used it as motivation to work even harder and prove Magic wrong.
Magic inspired me by telling me I wasn’t going to make it, that I was too little. I was in 10th grade when he told me I was too skinny to play in the NBA. I said, ‘OK, we’ll see.’Dwight Howard, ESPN
Hundreds of workouts later, Howard developed into the most dominant high school force, leading Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy to a state title his senior year. He received the Naismith Prep Player of the Year Award, the McDonald’s National High School Player of the Year honor, along with other individual accolades, and was recognized as the best American high school player.
Howard chose to forego college and declared for the ’04 NBA Draft, becoming the third high schooler in NBA history to be selected first overall. For almost an entire decade, Howard was one of the most physically impressive superstars in the entire association. He won the DPOY award three times and earned 5x All-Defensive honors along with 8x All-NBA selections.
Not bad for a guy who was too skinny to make it into the NBA.