Not even four years ago, Josh Howard was making more than $10 million a year playing in the NBA. Today, he plays for the Austin Toros in the NBA's Development League (or "D-League"), with a salary of $25,000.
After a string of debilitating injuries, including some freak on-the-court accidents, doctors gave him a grim prognosis for recovery last year. The 33-year-old faced the very real prospect of retiring far earlier than he'd planned.
"I shed some tears when the doctor told me," Howard admits in a conversation with KUT's David Brown. "But after that I realized, you know, I'm a warrior and I'm gonna do everything in my power to get back to my old self, and maybe even get back to the NBA again."
Texas fans know Howard best for his many years with the Dallas Mavericks. The NBA All-Star went on to play for the Washington Wizards and the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Following his injury last season, Howard contemplated retirement and explored the possibility of opening a string of day care centers. Instead, he says, he thought about how his injuries represented an opportunity to serve as a role model for his own children: to stage a comeback against the odds.
By all indications, the San Antonio Spurs are believers. They signed Howard in September and assigned him to their Toros development team, where Howard currently plays alongside many younger players trying to show the scouts they're ready for the big-time.
But Howard says his challenge in the Toros is "just prove to myself" that he's still the all-star he once was. "This game doesn't promise 'forever'. You just have to stay positive. I'm livin' the dream. Plain and simple."