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He's wearing long sweat shorts, Adidas sneakers, a Breathe Again T-shirt, and wristbands with scriptures on one and #James Strong on another for a young Rockets fan, James Fisher, who recently passed away from brain cancer.
There to impart a message about anti-bullying, he starts by reading a book to the students, and he can pass for a substitute teacher.
Walking with him and his longtime friend, Josh Powell, a former NBA player who's now a player development coach for the Rockets, I'm led to a black Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG tucked away from the other cars.
"You can hop in the front," says Powell, who sits behind me in Howard's new ride.
"I'm not really into nightlife," he say "People always talked about me and the so-called 'bright lights' in L.
A., but that's not what I'm really about."Howard speeds up quickly on the open road and notes that he likes to drive fast, while raving about his car's electronic stability control system, which helps keep him on the right path.
"I was just upset with how everything was transpiring in our society, just that hate for a group of people just kept growing—whether it was cops or whites hating blacks.
I'm like, 'Man, I'm this person that's always trying to bring people closer together, so why not do something to help other people?
"In Los Angeles, Howard admits that he got caught up in what looked good, but Houston provided more substance for him on and off the court.
He also points out the customized lighting across the dashboard, which is currently red for the Rockets.
One hour with the big man who could arguably make the biggest impact in the Western Conference playoffs soon became two, two became four and four became a whole night, stretching into the wee hours of the morning at his mansion in a gated community in Richmond.
"It feels as if Howard has led a class a thousand times, and he even stays 20 minutes past the event's closing time of 7 p.m. He tells them, "When I grow up, I want to be the president." During the extra time, he also keeps them entertained with different chanting and clapping games."You only get one time around the track in life," Howard says afterward.
"And I don't want the people who ran with me to feel like it was boring, so they're going to enjoy it, too."Later on at dinner, the 11-year NBA veteran explains the significance of his Breathe Again campaign, which is part of his D12 Foundation.