It’s easy to see pro athletes as larger-than-life stars immune to everyday problems. It’s hard to imagine what goes on in the lives of big-name players. With a player like Dwight Howard, it’s worthwhile to take a minute and look at the person behind the player and the humanity in every athlete.
Dwight Howard: off the court
Howard has had a long, prolific career. He’s been in the NBA since 2004. He began his career in Orlando where he stayed for eight seasons before a single season with the Lakers. From there, he played short stints with nearly half a dozen teams before landing with the Lakers again in 2019.
Howard has played both power forward and center, averaging 16.8 points per game and 12.3 rebounds across more than 1,000 games. But that’s Howard on the court. Off the court, he is a family man who cares for those around him. It is a well-known fact that Howard has five children with five different mothers. It’s not something the superstar tries to hide.
Howard proud of his children to a fault even if he’s not always proud of his actions. The truth is that he loves and spends time with them all. Although the kids live across the country, between LA, Florida, and Houston, Howard video chats with them and brings them to stay with him whenever possible, says Sports Illustrated. Most of all, he loves them.
A horrible tragedy
The end of the 2019-20 season was a strange one. COVID-19 shut down the season before it wrapped up, leaving everyone unsure of what comes next. But for Howard, the downtime has been exceptionally hard to deal with. On March 27th, reports BCK Online, Melissa Rios, the mother of Howard’s six-year-old son David, was found dead in her California home. Rios suffered from epilepsy and died of an apparent seizure while she was alone.
Forget any challenge that he’s ever faced on the court; this is all new territory for the aging star. According to BCK.com, Howard was quoted as saying “It’s extremely difficult for me to try to understand how to talk to my son, who’s 6 years old, just about the whole situation. Something I’ve never experienced.”
Fortunately, David Howard was staying at his father’s Atlanta mansion when his mother passed away. Still, it’s been a difficult thing for the star to deal with. The family had to have a small, outdoor service due to the church’s social distancing restrictions. It’s been hard for Howard, and more importantly his son, to get the closure that they need.
What happens next?
Howard has been faced with nothing but time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, choosing to social distance on his 23-acre estate along with all five of his children. It’s been difficult for the athlete, so inexperienced with death, to know how to approach the issue with his son other than being there and spending time with him.
As far as his own mental health is concerned, Howard is spending his time keeping in shape with a strict workout regimen for when the truncated season potentially concludes this October. He also suffered a second tragedy around the time Melissa Rios died: Kobe Bryant, his ex-teammate and oftentimes rival, passed away unexpectedly.
Bryant was set to help Howard with this year’s slam dunk contest. That has all been put on hold given the state of the world. For now that aging star will have to do what he knows best: bounce back and play.