Dwight Howard at the Taj Mahal in Agra. Image: Pawan Sharma/AFPD
wight Howard, an NBA champion (currently with Lakers), eight-time All-Star, eight-time All-NBA Team honouree, five-time All-Defensive Team member, and three-time Defensive Player of the Year, was in India as brand ambassador of social media platform Pixstory in which he is an investor. The platform, committed to transparency, allows users to challenge inaccuracies or abuse and support quality content. Edited excerpts from an interview:Q What prompted you to invest in Pixstory?
I have had long conversations about the way the world is going with my friends and colleagues. How children are receiving information, whether good or bad, is at an all-time high. And a lot of the time kids don’t understand a lot of things they look at on the internet. They are getting exposed to things that are detrimental to their health physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally. I have five kids and wanted to find a safe platform for them, their friends and families to tell the truth, hear the truth and not any false information and negativity. When I exchanged my views with Appu (Appu Esthose Suresh, founder and CEO of Pixstory), he told me about Pixstory and I thought it was perfect. We had the same vision and mission and that’s how I decided to invest.
Q Why is it important for athletes to take a stand on social issues?
We all are fortunate to have great voices and therefore, it is our responsibility to use our voices for people who feel they might not have a voice. Because we are all connected, when we speak about issues, people might connect with us.Q Is there enough emphasis on mental health?
I don’t think the emphasis is as much as it should be. For someone like me who has been in a position where I have had to overcome so many difficult obstacles mentally, it’s important to be at a place where my mind is still, like meditation. Not just me, but it is important for all athletes
to take time out to just breathe and find stability. Q What should be done to have Indian athletes play in the NBA?
I want to start programmes for kids here in India so that they can reach their potential. There is a huge gap because India is so far from the US. We need to build athletes in India
from the ground up and only then these kids will get better. We need to create a basketball culture and have good infrastructure in place. I’d like to be someone who’s an ambassador for bringing Indian athletes over to the NBA.Q Is there anything specific you are planning for the promotion of basketball in India?
I would like to spend time here to scout for talent and groom them for the big league. We are actively considering a training centre for basketball. A centre that would be a centre of excellence and could herald the arrival of a basketball league
, a new sporting culture of excellence and grooming the finest talents of this rich country, a great civilisation blessed with resilient and graceful people.
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(This story appears in the 03 June, 2022 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)