‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Ron Howard Played High School Basketball, Revealed How Teams Would Distract Him

by Chris Haney

Ron Howard, star of The Andy Griffith Show and an Oscar-winning director, once recalled his own experiences playing on his high school basketball team.

During halftime of a Chicago BullsBoston Celtics game in 2011, Howard spoke to a reporter from the Chicago Tribune. The director and his cast and crew were in Chicago filming his 2011 comedy The Dilemma. As a diehard Los Angeles Lakers fan, he hadn’t forgotten the ’80s when the Celtics beat his Showtime Lakers in the NBA Finals. Therefore, he pulled for the Bulls to beat Ray Allen and Paul Pierce’s Celtics that day.

However, as much fun as he has watching basketball games, his experience as a player was very different. Growing up as a kid actor, it was tough for Howard to live a normal life at times. By high school, everyone knew Howard from his role as Opie on The Andy Griffith Show. As a teen in Burbank, California, his television character came back to haunt him on the basketball court.

Howard played basketball for his high school team, but during many games, the opposition would taunt him. Whenever he went to the free-throw line, the other school’s band would play The Andy Griffith Show theme song. In addition, opposing fans would yell out, “Miss it, Opie!” Unfortunately, it often worked.

“When I would walk to the line to shoot free throws, the opposing band would play the Andy Griffith theme song. And people would yell, ‘Miss it, Opie,’ which I pretty often did,” Ron Howard admitted to the Chicago Tribune.

He may have missed numerous free throws during his high school basketball career. Yet things turned out alright for Howard. He went on to star on the wildly popular Happy Days, and had one of the most successful filmmaking careers of any director in the industry for four decades now.

‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Star’s Father Played a Huge Role in Avoiding Hollywood ‘Temptations’

Most fans of Ron Howard know about his father, Rance Howard. The elder Howard, an actor himself, introduced his son to Hollywood at an early age. At just 6 years old, Ron got the role of Opie on The Andy Griffith Show. Of course, years later after his starring role on Happy Days, he branched out into filmmaking.

As an Academy Award-winning director, Howard also became known for casting his father in his movies. Sadly, Rance Howard died in 2017 from heart failure due to a West Nile virus infection. But Rance didn’t just introduce his son to Hollywood, he also helped keep him and his brother on the “good side” of Hollywood.

“We were well aware of all the traps that Hollywood parents and children fall into when the child becomes the breadwinner. We were determined to live on what I could afford and put the boys’ money away for them,” Rance Howard said in a 2017 Jackson Sun article.

As reported in a 2017 The Hollywood Reporter article, Howard and his brother, Clint, had the most “normal” lives possible as children. They participated in recreational league sports and their family never once hired a legal guardian.

“Dad faced life and the travails of the entertainment business with enthusiasm, dignity and fearlessness. For that, we’ll be forever grateful,” Ron and Clint wrote in a farewell letter to their dad after passed away.