Dwight Howard Covers Sports Illustrated, Talks Hardships He’s Faced & Lessons He’s Learned

Basketball fans often ask themselves, what happened to Dwight Howard? What happened to Superman?

In the most recent issue of Sports Illustrated, Dwight Howard addresses all of those unanswered questions as he opens up about his personal life and shares hard lessons that he has learned throughout his career. The basketball player from Atlanta who started playing ball at the age of 8 get’s honest about his deep relationship with God, basketball, and having babies out of wedlock in new Sports Illustrated cover.

Check out some excerpts and pictures below, and head over to www.sportsillustrated.com for the full cover story.

On breaking out of his shell and going against his faith
“I’d been so sheltered for so long, once I got out of my house, I was ready to try anything,” Howard recalls. “It’s like, ‘I’ve heard so much about these clubs, these strip clubs, let’s try ’em out. Let’s party like these older guys.’ ” The booze didn’t do it for him, but the attention did. “You’re young, you’re on TV, and all these beautiful women are coming up to you. There’s no comparison, but at the time, I felt like a kid who has never had candy in his whole life and suddenly is given all the candy he could ever want. If you’re still just a kid—which is what I was—you’re like, ‘Give me more.’ It became an issue.”

On having his first child before marriage & his family’s disappointment
“I was ashamed because I’d talked so much about being a Christian, professed my faith to the whole world, and here I was with a baby out of wedlock,” Howard says. “My parents judged me. A lot of people judged me. I felt like I shouldn’t even be out in public because everyone looked at me as a hypocrite.”

On people close to him taking advantage of him
“People who were living with me, people who were working with me, took advantage of the situation,” he says. “I played a part. I gave those people a crutch. But they saw opportunities to take more.” Howard spent extravagantly and claims certain associates billed him even more extravagantly, six-figure sums for limousine services and seven for private jets. “They knew, ‘Dwight’s distracted, he’s not paying attention, we can finesse these numbers.’ I’m thinking, ‘How can this happen? How can these people—in some cases flesh and blood—steal from me when I’ve already given them everything they need?’ ”

On being ridiculed throughout his NBA career
“I lost confidence in who I am as a player,” he recalls. “I’d hear people say, ‘You should play more like Shaq,’ so I tried to bully guys. But that didn’t work because I’m not as big as Shaq. Then I’d hear people say, ‘You smile too much, you should be more like Kobe,’ so I tried to put on a mean face and play mad. But I wound up getting all these stupid techs and flagrant fouls.”

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