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Dwight Howard's autumn from elegant was as swift as it was mystifying. Once the ideal defensive facility in the NBA and also an athletic force of nature, the 31-year-old Hornets star is a shell of his previous self in 2017, at an age where he have to still have plenty of mile left in the tank.

That's the root of a new feature from Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins, that got along with Howard to comment on where it all went wrong. The components are too numerous to perform all in one place, however it reads as though a constant desire because that love and also attention is at the center of Howard's epic downfall. Having actually lived a sheltered, Christian lifestyle prior to coming to the NBA, Howard let loose when he gained his first NBA contract and also hordes the women supposedly came in addition to the paychecks he started to receive. Five kids with five various women later, Howard called SI the religious beliefs that used to it is in his anchor once he very first came right into the league eventually ended up being a burden because of his brand-new lifestyle.

"I was ashamed because I’d talked so much around being a Christian, professed my faith to the totality world, and also here i was with a baby the end of wedlock," Howard said, recalling the birth of his very first child. "My parents judged me. A many of civilization judged me. I felt prefer I shouldn’t even be the end in public due to the fact that everyone looked at me as a hypocrite. I felt prefer I didn’t need my connection with God anymore, and that led to a many pain."

Howard—who has been reluctant to talk about his kids in the past, which has actually brought about a many confusion through regards to just how many kids he in reality has—also seemed an ext willing come broach the topic of fatherhood with SI. He admitted that should have actually been "more responsible" when he to be younger, but he claimed he currently sees his kids as a "blessing." He likewise said that maintains relationships v all 5 of his kids, even though castle live in various parts of the country.

All of his five children live with their mothers—two in Florida, 2 in L.A., one in Houston—and share his critical name. Lock FaceTime and text and visit Atlanta every off-season. Castle drink slushies and watch movies, appropriate since their taste in food and also cinema is no much different from your father’s. When they tell the they love him, he turns away, therefore they can’t view him tear up. "It’s a challenging situation, obviously," Howard says. "I should have actually been much more responsible. I messed up. I sinned. Yet I won’t watch at any type of of them together a mistake. They’re every a blessing come me."

Outside of discussing his personal struggles v SI—he spoke about his strained relationship with his parents and also the family members members and friends who have actually taken thousands of thousands the dollars indigenous him end the years—Howard likewise talked hoops. Specifics he spoke on how that has altered his video game over the course of his career, and also if you believe what he claimed to Jenkins, Howard shows up to have readjusted his format of beat on countless occasions solely to it is in the person/player other people wanted him to be.

"I shed confidence in that I am as a player," he stated of his time on the Los Angeles Lakers. "I’d hear world say, 'You should play more like Shaq,' so ns tried to bully guys. Yet that didn’t work because I’m no as huge as Shaq. Climate I’d hear human being say, 'You smile as well much, you should be more like Kobe,' so ns tried to placed on a average face and also play mad. But I wound up obtaining all this stupid techs and flagrant fouls."

This is a rather illuminating revelation indigenous Howard. He confronted some of the sharpest criticism in the league at his peak, in part because his gifts were so obvious that human being felt as though the video game should simply come simple to him. Possibly the problem was also who the criticism has actually come from and also why Howard might be sensitive to that. Shaquille O'Neal, for example, has actually crushed Howard for many of his career, no only since Howard was framed as the next good big man, but likewise because Howard followed in Shaq's footsteps come an extent, acquisition on the "Superman" nickname and also making his first two stops in Orlando and also Los Angeles.

But the wasn't just Shaq-level movie critics who Howard cared about. According to Jenkins, Howard would allegedly speak to friends in ~ halftime of several of his games, needing to know what they thought around how he to be playing. He additionally admitted he to be so fed up throughout his Houston Rockets tenure that he practically retired after ~ the 2014-15 season. The no hope thirst for admiration is actually pretty sad, and it offers you a pretty great idea of just how Howard lost his way.

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The entire piece is precious reading, and also regardless of just how I feel around his antics over the years, ns hope Howard find inner peace and gets earlier to law what that does best. The doesn't have actually the athleticism that made him an excellent anymore, however he's much better than that has been in recent years and deserves to watch out his NBA job on his own terms.