Faces In The Crowd: Darvin Ham
June 5, 2007
By Wes Skipwith, Texas Tech Media Relations
Darvin Ham was famous for breaking backboards while playing basketball at Texas Tech, now he breaks down NBA teams and players as an analyst for Fox Sports.
Ham played forward for the Red Raiders from 1993-1996 and was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated after shattering the backboard during an upset victory over North Carolina in the 1996 NCAA Tournament. Ham remains the only Tech athlete to have ever graced the cover of SI. During his time at Tech he was named to the Southwest Conference Defensive Team, the All-SWC Second Team, and won the 1996 NCAA Slam Dunk Championship.
"To be apart of Texas Tech history," Ham said, "whether it's the Sports Illustrated cover or leading the team to its first ever NCAA Sweet Sixteen birth, that's something that is really special to me. It was a fragile time of my life when I first went out to Lubbock in '93. Those people at Texas Tech, they really made me feel at home and anything they ever need of me, whether its showing up for something or whatever, I'm there for it because that place is really special to me."
After college, he signed with the Denver Nuggets as an undrafted rookie and played eight seasons in the NBA with six different teams. His career was capped off with a NBA World Championship while with the Detroit Pistons in 2004.
Ham is now in his second year as a NBA analyst for Fox Sports Southwest. He also signed a contract with NBA TV earlier this year and is working on getting a permanent spot on Sirius Satellite Radio.
Ham said because of his experience as a player in the NBA, he is able to bring real insight to his job as an analyst.
"I love it," Ham said about his most recent job. "I think I bring a real perspective to the game. I didn't make it in a conventional way, by being drafted and all of that. I had to work to get in it which made me appreciate it even more and really look at the sport from a regular everyday guy point of view. I try to look at it from a real perspective. I'm a player; I started out as a player, so you'll never hear me bashing a player. Now with that being said, I do deliver constructive criticism."
Ham said he first got the idea of working in television and radio while at Tech. Jack Dale, a Lubbock sports talk show host, recognized Ham's talent and planted the seed.
"He told me way back when, `Darvin, you speak well, you have a great voice, and you do a good job of explaining the game. You should consider this,'" Ham said.
Ham got his first chance while with the Milwaukee Bucks during the 2000-01 season. While out for most of the season with a broken foot, he was invited to guest host on local Milwaukee sports television and radio shows. Then in 2006 he was hired by Fox Sports Southwest as an analyst for the Dallas Mavericks during their run to the NBA finals.
Besides working as an analyst, Ham also is the founder and president of Urban Youth Development, a non-profit organization he and his wife Deneitra started in 2003. According to the organization's Web site, Urban Youth Development is aimed at providing enrichment programs designed to uplift today's youth, primarily targeting low socio-economic status, cultural indifference, and at risk adolescents.
Ham said he started the organization because he wanted to help kids the same way he was helped when he was young growing up in Saginaw, Mich.
"We are in a fragile space right now as far as our country is concerned," Ham said. "The process of us raising our children, whether they be black, white, Hispanic or Asian, here in America is sort of a microwave process. You're not seeing that personal involvement, whether it's from parents or teachers. I can remember teachers taking a personal interest in me doing well in school and wanting me to go on and have that determination to make something out of myself."
Through this charity, Ham organizes and directs several basketball camps in Irving, Detroit and Saginaw. He said he has also been discussing the idea of bringing a camp to Lubbock.
"I've been talking with Lance Hughes, Gionet Cooper and Koy Smith, a couple of my old teammates," Ham said. "I just want to give back in some way and have a mentoring session as well when they're not playing basketball. These kids need to learn that life choices are just as important as choices they make concerning their schooling and their education."
Ham currently lives in Dallas with Deneitra, his wife of nine years who he met while both were students at Tech. Together they have two kids in Donovan, 10, and Dominic, seven. He also has a 15 year-old son named Darvin Jr. from a previous relationship.
"They are all budding athletes," Ham said about his three boys, "but they know you have to pick up a book before they can get to the ball."
Ham is also working on finishing a bachelor's degree in Liberal Arts from Tech. He said he wants to get his degree so he can become an alumni of the university he helped build.
"I go out there and I see that United Spirit Arena and I feel like that's my blood sweat and tears that we put in during that era to make a place like that possible," he said. "I remember practicing at the old coliseum after the rodeo had just left and we're in there smelling cow manure and the seats are still dusty from all the dust that got kicked up. The sweat and the effort that we put in to try to turn that program around helped make it attractive for someone like Bobby Knight to come there and helped Tech make the jump to the Big 12. To go out there and see all the nice facilities, it's beautiful to be apart of that."