From the Court to the Studio
Brendan Todd Haywood was born on November 27, 1979, in New York, NY, to Barbara Haywood. He lived in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Kew Gardens and then moved to Greensboro, NC. He attended high school at Dudley High in Greensboro. Barbara says "Brendan had a Southern accent in two days after moving from NY to NC! I'm sure he didn't want the other kids to tease him because he sounded different. In two or three days, he fit right in. The adjustment was no problem." Brendan was always taller than other kids - when he was just six months old, he was getting mistaken for a 1 year old!
Brendan developed a love for music very early. He played the saxophone from the seventh to the ninth grade. He went to music camp at UNC-Greensboro.
Brendan also played baseball and football growing up. He started with T-ball and was gifted at hitting homeruns and then got into football in high school. He was a natural at tight end! Basketball proved to really be his sport though. Magic Johnson was his man! When he heard that Magic had HIV, Ms. Haywood said he came home and she thought someone close had passed away, because he was so upset. Brendan is an only child and got involved with basketball when he was in junior high. He wasn't graceful or fast and was cut from the team.
Annoyed with Brendan being cut, Ms. Haywood took Brendan to the YMCA in Greensboro, in a predominantly black neighborhood. They taught him the game and he played with them for about two years.
Brendan went on to play basketball in high school and helped lead Dudley to a state 4A championship during his junior year by averaging 10 points and 10 rebounds (and was able to play at the Smith Center for the first time!) He set a single-season state record that year with 182 blocked shots. Brendan went to Nike camp and had the chance to meet and play with other future NBA players like Ron Artest, Larry Hughes and Elton Brand.
As a senior, Brendan averaged 14.8 points, 11.7 rebounds and 6.7 blocks and shot 78% from the floor. He was a two time All-County selection, News & Record Guilford Player of the Year, and the MVP of the 1996 Little Four Christmas Tournament. When Brendan was named as a McDonald's All-American, Dudley High surprised him with a special assembly to honor him. As a senior at Dudley, Brendan won the Gatorade North Carolina Basketball Player of the Year Award, and he even received a key to the city!
After graduation, Brendan enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for the 1997–1998 season. He was recruited by legendary Tar Heel basketball coach Dean Smith, but the coach retired shortly after his arrival on campus and turned the job over to his assistant, Bill Guthridge. Brendan backed up Makhtar N'Diaye at the center position his freshman season, and was the most-used bench player after the six rotating starters (Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter, Shammond Williams, Ed Cota, Ademola Okulaja and N'diaye). That season, the Tar Heels advanced to the National Semifinals of the 1998 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament.
Brendan moved into the starting lineup during his sophomore season, and the Tar Heels earned a #3 seed in the 1999 NCAA tournament, but were eliminated in the first round. The Tar Heels struggled again during the 1999–2000 season, but experienced a resurgence during the 2000 NCAA tournament, reaching the Final Four. The 2000–2001 season was Brendan's last at UNC, and the first for new head coach Matt Doherty. That season the Tar Heels earned a #2 seed in the 2001 NCAA tournament, but were eliminated in the second round.
At UNC, Brendan recorded the first triple-double in school history against the University of Miami on December 4, 2000 with 18 points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocks (which was also a UNC record). He also finished his college basketball career as the Atlantic Coast Conference's all-time leader in field goal percentage (63.7%), and is the Tar Heels' all time leader in blocked shots (304). During his senior year, Brendan was named to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference 2nd Team, and was also named Second Team All-America by the Sporting News.
Drafted in the first round of the 2001 NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Brendan’s draft rights were promptly traded to the Orlando Magic who then passed them on, just over a month later, to the Washington Wizards. He found a home in D.C., where he began an eight-plus year run en route to becoming the team’s longest-tenured player.
During his first season, Brendan was honored with the NBA Rookie-of-the-Month award for December 2001 after averaging 7.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.2 blocks. His scoring average rose each of the first four seasons in the league as he established himself as the Wizards’ enforcer in the paint. His best season came in the 2007-08 with career-high averages of 10.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.4 offensive rebounds. He couldn’t follow up those record numbers as a torn right wrist ligament limited him to only six games the next year.
He was traded to Dallas in February of 2010 where he split time with Erick Dampier at center. He averaged 9.1 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks and 30.6 minutes in 77 games, including 67 starts, with the Wizards and Mavericks. He also became only the third player in the last 20 seasons to record 20-rebound games with two different teams in the same season.
A free agent following the season, Brendan re-signed with the Mavs on July 9, 2010. Brendan played a key role in helping the Mavs win their first NBA Championship during that 2010-2011 season.
In the summer of 2012, Brendan was selected as the Mavs’ Amnesty Player. He was awarded to the Charlotte Bobcats and able to come back home (his house is in Charlotte and grew up less than an hour away in Greensboro, NC).
In the summer of 2014, Brendan was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers! He joined LeBron James to become Eastern Conference Champions and making it to the NBA Finals where they lost to the Golden State Warriors.
In the summer of 2015, Brendan was traded to the Portland Trailblazers where he was released.
Brendan began laying the groundwork for a broadcasting career as he served as a color commentator for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics for four seasons and hosted a three-hour sports talk show on the Wizards’ flagship station in Washington, DC.
Since the summer of 2013, Brendan has hosted his own radio show with Sports Radio 610 AM WNFZ the Fan from 6-7pm ET.
Brendan was a broadcaster for CBS and his UNC Tar Heels in the 2016 Final Four/Championship games. He currently works for CBS, ESPN and NBATV as a basketball analyst and has garnered considerable attention for his work during March Madness.
In 2021, Brendan partnered with fellow NBA big man Ryan Hollins for a successful podcast called The Opinionated 7-footers.
Brendan has his own featured segment on NBATV called House of Haywood in which he takes fans through some of the best plays from the NBA's elite big men.