In his first season with the Houston Cougars, head coach Tom Herman promised the team one thing: If they won the Chic-Fil-A Peach Bowl, he’d buy a grill.
In a season where the Cougars went nearly undefeated, the victory in Atlanta was not that surprising—even if it was over Florida State University.
The football team fulfilled its promise. Soon after, social media crazed over a video in which rapper Paul Wall fitted the pearly whites of Houston’s favorite and most-paid coach for a diamond-studded, $15,000 grill. In the video, Paul Wall and his team proclaim themselves the University of Houston Grill Committee and, we admit it, we ogled a little. If that isn’t bling, what is?
But all that bling didn’t come just from the local rapper. Less famous on the national stage is the man standing behind Herman with a gold chain hanging from his neck. But for years Johnny Dang, also known as TV Johnny, has made a name for himself in the Houston area by creating custom jewelry and grills like the one he made for Herman.
“This is my dream come true,” Dang said.
Dang moved to Houston from a small village in Vietnam in 1996. He worked for a jeweler but soon after, he opened up a shop in Sharpstown selling his own jewelry and grills. Dang said he can’t remember when he met Paul Wall–he was a regular customer at his shop. Eventually, the two struck a deal for Wall to perform at the shop to promote both of their brands.
Houston’s grill scene is larger than most. Dang said he think this is because there are so many styles–a gold version called a slug has been popularized in New York, but in Houston the designs are custom-made, usually more expensive and vary greatly.
When asked when he would wear the grill, Herman said it would only be used for promotional purposes. Otherwise, Herman said it would sit on his nightstand. Dang, though, said he and Paul Wall have a different view on when grillz can and should be worn.
“I wear a grill every day,” Dang said. “And Paul wears one 24/7.”
On Oct. 22, Johnny Dang & Co. will open a new location on Richmond Avenue.