Sterling Brown may be best known for his skills on the court, but that could change. If things go according to plan, the NBA forward could be the host of his own education and lifestyle show on a major TV network.
The show, “How Cool Is This,” will have Brown, a forward with the Houston Rockets, exploring “discoveries, happenings and innovation in the STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math] world [through] a multicultural lens,” according to a statement released by the show’s producers.
In the premiere episode, which is available on YouTube, Brown visited the Lyndon Johnson Space Center in Houston and talked to astronaut Dr. Jeanette Epps about her training for a mission to the International Space Station.
In a recent interview, Brown said the show allows him to explore things that have interested him since he was a young boy growing up in Maywood.
“This is who I’ve been since I was a kid,” Brown said. “I’ve always been good with numbers and math and been interested in learning how things come about.”
Brown starred on the basketball court for Proviso East High School in Maywood but attended Proviso Math and Science Academy in Forest Park. He said PMSA nurtured and expanded his interest in STEM.
Larry James, one of the show’s co-producers and a longtime family friend, said the idea to make Brown a host of a STEM-friendly TV show catered to young people came about rather naturally.
“Sterling was reaching out to some kids in Dallas and it kind of dawned on us that they had no idea of his background,” James said. “Sterling is a gifted basketball player but he’s just as gifted in the arts, sciences and math.”
James said he and another co-producer, Jon Marc Sandifer, a programming executive at Black Entertainment Television (BET), are shopping “How Cool Is This” around to networks. He said at least two major networks are vying for the show. James said he didn’t want to identify the networks while negotiations are still happening.
“There will be six markets for this show and one of the markets will be [Brown’s] own — Chicago,” James said.
He added that there will be additional educational awareness and outreach initiatives that will supplement the show’s mission to spark interest in STEM subjects among young people in places like Brown’s hometown of Maywood.
James said, in addition to after-school programming, they’re planning a STEM fair that will take place during NBA All-Star Weekend in Salt Lake City, Utah in February 2023.
Brown said shooting the first episode with Dr. Epps gave him a new perspective on NASA and the aeronautics field.
“It was good for me to see that,” he said. “It definitely gave me a lot more respect for that field.”
James said Dr. Epps was so impressed with Brown that she invited him to attend her launch.
“She most graciously invited him to be at the launch,” James said. “When she goes up there, she wants him there. I thought that was the greatest thing.”
Epps is currently being wait-listed, James said, adding that NASA still has to set a hard date for when she and her fellow astronauts will take off.
Brown said hosting the premiere episode allowed him to hone his broadcasting chops.
“When this opportunity presented itself, it was something I was already thinking about,” he said. “Being a host for this was an opportunity for me to get my feet wet and see what adjustments I need to make.”
James said the larger message of the show, particularly for young people in Maywood and the surrounding suburbs, is that there are career options beyond sports and entertainment.
“Everybody is aspiring to be basketball players or hip hop artists, and that’s really great, but don’t shun the other gifts you’ve been blessed to be given,” James said. “Give yourself the biggest shot possible and don’t shut the doors on anything.”