Royce White has been on one heckuva ride during his sporting career, and his next step is into the octagon where he hopes to become a star in the UFC.
The former Minnesota Mr. Basketball winner who went on to sign with the Gophers and then transfer to Iowa State before being drafted to the NBA by the Houston Rockets announced this week that he's aiming for the heavyweight title.
“I’m coming for the UFC Heavyweight crown," White says on his website, where he's also promoting a book he co-authored with former Gophers wide receiver A.J. Barker.
White, a Minneapolis native, was the 16th overall pick to the Rockets in the 2012 NBA Draft. His through-the-roof potential as a 6-foot-8 point-forward hasn't been realized in the NBA largely because of his public disapproval of the way the NBA treats players with mental health conditions.
The 28-year-old's battle with Generalized Anxiety Disorder became public during his only season at Iowa State in 2011-12, and White hasn't been shy about raising awareness for mental health since.
White told the Des Moines Register that he'll continue playing basketball while he trains for his MMA debut, having recently signed with the Windsor Express of the National Basketball League of Canada.
“I’m probably one of only athletes in the history of sports to do this, which I guess you can say is Royce being Royce — Royce making history," White told the Iowa newspaper.
In January, White fired off an unsolicited tweet criticizing Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins' production compared to the money he's making ($25 million). He then said he could provide Minnesota a lot more for less money.
White's book, "MMA x NBA: A Critique of Modern Sport in America," dives into his transition from basketball to mixed martial arts, in addition to dissecting differences between American and European sports and "how their institutional structures are different."