Daryl Little, 63, loves sports. He played college basketball, and – before problems made it impossible – he dreamed of an NBA career.

He also loves fishing, people and his job at Goodwill, where he’s worked for over a year. Before that, he worked in moving and storage. The former center, who is 6 feet, 9 inches tall and weighs 300 pounds, was built for it.

Dr. David Baker

But between working as a mover and working for Goodwill, he was unemployed and living in the Howard Levine Men’s Shelter on Statesville Avenue in Charlotte. That’s how he came in March of 2022 to know Dr. David Baker III, a physician at Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Medical Clinic – North End.

“The people at the shelter recommended I come here,” Little said. “Here” refers to the Michael Jordan Clinic. And the people who referred him were Roof Above healthcare volunteers. They refer patients who need medical care to Baker and the clinic team. “Dr. David Baker has been a big blessing to me,” Little said. “He has helped me not only in my health, but also in my recovery.”

Little was addicted to cocaine for over 30 years.

But thanks to the nine-month Saber rehab program through Roof Above, he’s not taking drugs and has moved out of the shelter. The program is effective, Baker said, because it addresses substance abuse and housing insecurity.

“It really is an awesome program,” Little said. “I met some friends there that I can say are part of my family today. When newcomers come in, I try to show them that they never have to use again.”

Doctor’s thorough checks matter

Little, who has not used cocaine for two years now, was six months into his recovery when he met Baker. He also had uncontrolled high blood pressure and elevated blood sugar, which turned out to be diabetes. Baker diagnosed him and taught Little to check his blood sugar and manage his diabetes on his own.

It’s not uncommon for Baker to discover his patients have several concurrent medical issues. Some of them had not been to the doctor in decades. “I often encounter a variety of long-standing, undiagnosed problems,” he said. “I have to be thorough, turn over every stone, to be sure we catch everything that might be going on.”

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Before meeting Baker, Little had a string of bad luck in early 2021. He was in a car accident and lost his job. He required hernia surgery that February. A month later, doctors found a blood clot in his lung. He’d fallen while getting out of bed in the shelter and hit his head. That led him to see a Novant Health doctor the next day. “God bless her soul, she found a blood clot in my left lung,” he said of Dr. Josie Bowen, an ER physician. “She really saved my life that day; she did. I’m so grateful.”

To treat the clot, Little was put on blood thinners. “Blood-thinning medication can be very complex for patients who don’t have health insurance,” Baker said. “He was put on Eliquis, but he was having to get medication through MedAssist, a free pharmacy. MedAssist doesn’t carry Eliquis, so we had to switch him to a medication they did carry – Xarelto.”

Baker worked closely with Mallory Moore, a clinical pharmacist (she’s licensed to prescribe medicine) who’s part of Novant Health’s virtual medication management program and dedicated to Michael Jordan Clinic patients, to get Little the medication he needed. Now that he’s employed at Goodwill, Little has health insurance and no longer relies on MedAssist.

Coming to Wilmington

Two Michael Jordan Family Medical Clinics are being built in Wilmington, his hometown, thanks to Jordan’s latest $10 million gift. Crews broke ground on the first in October 2022 at 1410 S. 15th St., on the corner shared with Greenfield Street. It will open in early 2024. The second clinic will be at 3009 Princess Place Drive, on the corner shared with North 30th Street.

Respect for every patient

Baker is used to encountering skepticism and a mistrust of the medical establishment among his patients.

He understands why some people would be leery of seeing a doctor. “The U.S. medical system is so complex and fragmented,” he said. “It’s become very specialized, and it’s hard to get personalized care. Many Michael Jordan patients have never had a primary care provider. They have so many other things going on – low health literacy, housing and food insecurity. They may have faced discrimination or had traumatic experiences in the hospital. We see a certain amount of fatalism; people become resigned and feel their health conditions are inevitable.

“Sometimes, fear and skepticism manifest as adversarial,” he added. “People may feel they have to push or be combative just to be heard.”

Baker lets his patients know he hears them. “Dr. Baker has never talked down to me,” Little said. “He told me, if things didn't go my way in recovery, to come and see him.”

Baker said Little is an agreeable and eager patient. “Mr. Little, like Mr. Warwick, is doing the tough work himself,” he said. “Both of them were really craving health information. They want to take good care of themselves. And both of them are so resilient. It’s easy to provide care to patients who are invested in themselves.”

‘Dr. Baker is part of my support group’

Little is candid about his addiction and past attempts at recovery. “It’s been a big struggle,” he said. “I started using cocaine in the mid-’70s. I had no idea I was going for the ride of my life. After several years of using, I was lying to my family, lying to my friends. I was stealing from my mom and brothers. I was doing whatever I could to get my next fix.

“My mom kept asking me: ‘What's wrong with you? What's wrong with you?’ I wanted to get help, but I didn't know how.”

Around 2012, he went to a 30-day detox program and enrolled in a program at the Harvest Center, a nonprofit that addresses all the complex factors involved in someone falling into homelessness. “At that time, I thought I was doing well,” Little said. “I was clean for two years.”

But then, another blow. Little’s mother died. When he and his siblings sold her house after she passed, he got a portion of the proceeds. “I wasn’t ready for that kind of money,” he said. “So, I went back to using.”

Daryl Little thumnail 6
“Dr. Baker is part of my support group. I really do love this guy." – Daryl Little

Still, there were people who believed in him. “I’ve got some people in my life I love dearly because they stuck with me,” he said. “They were beside me the whole time and saw something in me I didn't see myself.”

Count Baker among them. “Dr. Baker is part of my support group,” Little said. “I really do love this guy. We have a relationship, you know what I mean? I tell him the truth about what’s going on with me. I want him to know, so he can give me the care I need.”

Little wants everyone to know how empowering it is to get accurate health information and treatments. He said he’d tell anyone without access to good medical care to “go to the Michael Jordan Clinic and see if someone can guide you in the right direction like they did me. They gave me the information I needed. I followed up on what they asked me to do. Now that I’m working for Goodwill, my goal is to keep bettering myself as a human being and to help others out.”

Little has set several goals for himself. He wants to get his driver’s license, save money and eventually get his own apartment. Goodwill, Baker and the Michael Jordan Clinic are helping him work toward those goals.


Community and team member philanthropy partners helped make this program possible through Novant Health foundations. To learn more about your regional foundation, click here. To make your own impact by helping to save and improve more lives, make a gift today,