James White Starts Living His Dream In The N. B. A.

By Kevin Wilson
Updated: July 6, 2006

James White

James White

MARYLAND—When James White son was born, Clifton Coates, now a motivational speaker and broadcaster in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, remembers walking through a Columbia Park apartment sliding glass door noticing a nerf basketball court in a playpen. When Coates asked his cohort what was going on, he distinctly remembers the father telling him that his son will be a ballplayer. Over the years, Coates inquired about his son’s progress, the report was all about his growth, academics, maturity, and most of, basketball.

The night before the 2006 National Basketball Association Draft, James White IV could barely sleep. Getting up at 5:00 am, on draft day appeared hectic and nerve- racking. He got a haircut, went to the doctor, submitted a few physicals to the N.B.A. teams that requested them, and, finally, he showed a sports show producer where his hoop exposure began- Seat Pleasant, Maryland.

Arriving at the new home of James White and his fiancée in Paradise Acres, there were more cameras and reporters waiting patiently to interview the multitalented athlete. As White approached the home front, he graciously greets everyone, like a professional executive. “Relax Dad,” he said, with a smile.

While the father answered questions by One Nine, a New York based video producer, the former University of Cincinnati Bearcat, wearing “ We’re One” sports gear and a pair of black and white low cut Nikes, engaged in brief conversations with comrades and quests. Minutes later, all were instructed to come into the basement. Smelling the aroma of a variety of food, and hot buttermilk biscuits prepared by Emma Lois Edgar, one would think a wedding reception was in progress.

Instead, the saga of a young boy’s dream was on the verge of becoming a reality. Family and friends had to sit or stand for the long awaited N.B.A. announcement on E.S.P.N. At 11:00pm, the verdict was broadcasted to the world. The Portland Trailblazers drafted White, a 6 foot 7 swingman in the second round- 31st pick. The winner of many slam dunk contest, who averaged 16 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists, along with 28 block shots for the 21-13 Bearcats, was traded to the Indiana Pacers when Larry Bird sent their 45th pick, Alexander Johnson (Florida State) and two future second round picks to Portland. Says Dave Benner, the media relations’ director of the Pacers “ Larry was very high on James White, and hoped that he was around for the trade. James is a first rate competitor with high energy.”

Following the great news, the Pacers rookie shook hands with all as they gave a toast in jubilation. “It’s a dream come true when somebody in the family makes it professionally,” says Uncle Gregory White. The former 2000 McDonald’s All American, and graduate of Hargrave Military Academy, believes that he’ll bring excitement to the Pacers organization and the league, and one that will play defense and make an instant contribution. His personal mission is to become an all star, earn championship rings, be inducted into the hall of fame, and be remembered as one of the best N.B.A. players to play the game.

Giving it back to the community will be automatic for White. Local pro players showed him the way. DeMarr Johnson (Denver Nuggets) and Jerome Williams (formerly of Toronto Raptors) said that he would make it. While accompanying Williams to the Raptors shoot around, he learned how to be professional. Going to Indiana, being close to his son and acquiring first round money makes the Prince George’s County product overjoyed. A guaranteed two- year contract along with a six -figure shoe deal with Reebok is the deal, thus far.

At age 12, White dunked for the first time. He earned the nickname “Flight 75” due to his leaping ability. He appreciates the four- year, countrywide exposure with D.C. Assault, an A.A.U. powerhouse. “ From a talent standpoint, I knew he would have a chance once he put in the work. He could’ve gone to the pros from high school, but he chose to go to college,” says Curtis Malone, founder of D.C. Assault. The Psychology major will return to the Bearcats campus during the off-season to obtain his degree. The 2003-2004 N.C.A.A. regional qualifier, in the high jump and triple jump, attributes his success to family and friends, who have kept him, level headed and motivated. “My father always pushes me to play better, to keep going, and never be satisfied,” says White. Longtime cohort, Clifton Coates, can attest to the fatherly guidance his friend has placed on a successful black male child, who’s now a young man.