NEW YORK — Jett Howard’s grandmother, Jermin Wardally, couldn’t travel to the 2023 NBA Draft with the rest of Howard’s family for his big night due to her Alzheimer’s disease. Wardally has been present and a constant figure on the sidelines for Howard’s entire career until she was diagnosed with the disease seven years ago.
Even though she couldn’t make the trip to New York to see her grandson walk across the stage and shake NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s hand, Howard wanted to make sure she was represented and asked his family members to wear purple, the Alzheimer’s Association signature color, in her honor. Howard is wearing a purple flower on his suit and has her name on his glasses, while every other family member made sure to have some purple on, too.
“I just wanted a way to represent her,” Howard told Yahoo Sports. “She’s always wanted me to be in this position and it’s hard for her not to be here. She’s always been so hands on with us so I just wanted to make sure there was a way she was with us here tonight.”
Growing up, Howard watched his dad, Juwan, win two NBA championships with the Miami Heat and had the dream of one day making the NBA just like his dad did when he was the No. 5 overall pick out of Michigan (the same program Howard played at and Juwan is the current head coach) in 1994. People told Howard he needed a plan B in case basketball didn’t work out, but Wardally always told him to ignore the noise and follow his dream.
“She’s always believed in me,” Howard said. “Growing up, some people were like, ‘It’s hard to do what your dad is doing and get to where he’s at.’ She’s always been the one encouraging me to stick to my plan A and chase my dreams.”
Howard’s dreams will soon be a reality Thursday even when he hears his name called. For the entire Howard family, Thursday evening will be a night celebrating Howard while honoring Wardally.