#BestYourself Episode 3: Haneef “Young Hollywood” Munir shows what it takes to be in the spotlight
When you hear “Young Hollywood,” you probably think of Twilight, tweens and bubble gum pop-making musicians that kids and young adults in the Twittersphere go crazy over. Justin, Jennifer, Josh, Emma, Evan, Kristen, Selena, Haneef…Haneef? Haneef Munir might not ring a bell with the fan base of the other names just mentioned, or with any film critic. But for the past four years, the one-man cinematic show from Cali, nicknamed “Young Hollywood,” has been appearing on TV shows, national commercials, billboards and countless online viral videos showcasing his dunking exploits all over the globe.
His last exploit took place at a recent sneaker-release event in Santa Monica, hosted by the NBA’s most popular dunker, Blake Griffin. Griffin, famous for jumping over the hood of a car in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, reluctantly agreed to be the car prop for the 5’11” Haneef at the event’s dunk contest. He had nothing to worry about, because not only did Haneef clear him with ease, he jumped high enough to execute a between-the-legs dunk that would have earned a 50 in an NBA dunk contest even without a 6’10” player to jump over. The thousands in attendance went crazy. The video went viral within hours and a day later, articles about Young Hollywood were on every major sports website and he was being interviewed live on ESPN.
Videos like that and numerous dunk contest wins (including at the Sprite Showdown judged by LeBron James during All-Star Weekend) have helped Haneef accumulate more than 15-million views on YouTube and become an online sensation. What separates Haneef from most other viral stars who enjoy their 15 minutes of fame is that he has found a way to capitalize off his 15 minutes by making the transition from “amateur dunker/online viral star” to a professional businessman who helps other viral stars profit from their own niche talents.
With business partner Michael “AirDogg” Stewart, Haneef created West Coast Dreamers (WCD) – a dunk agency that places basketball talent in dunk contests and commercials like the ones Haneef did for Nike, Sprite, Kia and Footlocker. WCD also puts on basketball-related events such as celebrity games and hoop camps for young kids in Haneef’s local community. He is able to inspire and motivate these kids to do their best by demonstrating his skills and giving advice based on his experiences doing what he loves to do most. Haneef Munir is walking – or should we say jumping — proof that you don’t have to make it to the NBA to make a living playing basketball, but that it does take dedication and hard work to become as famous as Young Hollywood, or to become famous in “Young Hollywood.”
“We start each day with a new opportunity. A chance to be better than the day before. For me, it wasn’t easy – I didn’t follow the crowd, didn’t try to be like everyone else. I was just me and that’s when my journey began.”
“When you’re on this journey you’ll have failures but you’ll also have successes. What matters most is you’re willing to work harder, think bigger, be yourself, only better everyday. So there are two ways to think about this, there’s the world around you and how it affects you then there’s how you affect the world because when each of us gets better we all get better.”
“So forget about the competition. Forget about the circumstances. We can’t control those things. What you can control is: You. You can challenge yourself, push yourself, best yourself. And at the end of the day, the only question left to ask yourself is: What are you going to do next?” - Nick Cannon
Grayson “The Professor” Boucher is arguably the most recognizable face in streetball. He first made a name for himself on the popular And1 Mixtapes and ESPN show “Streetball” in 2004 and in the past 9 years he’s been on the cover of Sports Illustrated, the lead actor in a film with Ludacris and Academy Award winner Melisa Leo, appeared in numerous commercials, played in international exhibition games alongside NBA legends like Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady, and most recently been the star of a series of viral videos and travelled around the nation as part of the Ballup Streetball Tour.
Bobby Brown is a 28 year old professional basketball player that has played for the Kings, Timberwolves, Hornets and Clippers. He also played overseas and earlier this year he won the Euroleague Alphonso Ford Trophy, an award given to the league’s Best Scorer. Not just a scorer, the former California State University player also was 3rd in the Euroleague in assists and 9th in blocks even though he’s only 6’2!
Nicknamed “The Dunk Inventor” and known to most of the dunk and Youtube community as “the best contest dunker in the world,” Kenny Dobb’s videos have accumulated millions of online views and built a fanbase that even includes many NBA players. He even had LeBron James and Kobe Bryant congratulate him after his see-it-to-believe-it performance at the 2012 Sprite Showdown contest that took place during NBA All-Star weekend. When he’s not putting on international dunk exhibitions or appearing in commercials, Dobbs is conducting basketball clinics and visiting high schools to talk to kids about the importance of hard work, education and staying out of trouble.
They call Myree Bowden “Reemix” because of his ability to remix and liven up events. Starting with his memorable appearance in the 2003 NCAA Slam Dunk Contest, Reemix has been showing off his talents with everybody from The Harlem Globetrotters to the TV show SlamBall to the NBA Nation tour where he serves as an All-Star judge and host of the Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown tour. Not just a performer, Mr Bowden, as his school students call him, spends time as physical trainer and teacher when he’s not on a basketball tour.
6’10” Shawn Kemp and Blake Griffin are known as 2 of the best NBA dunkers of all-time. The other thing they have in common is 5’10 Haneef “Young Hollywood” Munir performed a between the legs dunk OVER both of them this past summer. Staying true to his name, aside from his Sportscenter appearances, Hollywood has also been casted in a lot of national TV commercials and ad campaigns and is the co-owner of basketball talent agency. Next stop for the half-time human highlight will probably be full length Hollywood films.