Dwight Howard describes the “hurt” he experienced that eventually set him free during a two-part interview on Fox Sports 1’s Fair Game with Kristine Leahy tonight at 5:30 pm ET, with part two airing on July 18. The Memphis Grizzlies center tells Kristine that he is not gay, despite a lawsuit filed by a man named Masin Elije in March. Elije previously tweeted in November 2018 that he’d dated the NBA player. However, Dwight says he doesn’t even know the accuser.
“I went through a situation last year that really just set me free,” Dwight admits. “It ended up being a situation that was — it went viral. People were talking about it, and it upset me because I didn’t even know who the person was. Why would somebody who I never met, never had any contact with, make up a whole story about me? I saw all the hate, the pure hate, from people that I’ve never met before, just pile up everywhere I went,” he explained.
Dwight goes on to describe why the situation “liberated” him. “Because I saw how a lot of people would feel, whether they’re gay or they’re straight. Whether they have issues. People are afraid to be who they are,” he says. “They’re afraid to just step out and be. Because they’re afraid of what other people might say or think about them. That situation made me realize you’re not like this, but just be you, be free.”
After Dwight admits he allowed himself to be “free,” Kristine asks him to clarify that he means he’s not gay. “I’m not gay,” he confirms, explaining, “It’s a lot of people who are and they have to hide and it’s people who have mental issues and they have to hide. It’s people who have different problems in life and they have to hide. They have to put on the mask every day. It’s like, I don’t want to wear no mask. I just want to be.”
Although he’s found relief, Dwight admits that things were difficult when the allegations first surfaced. “It hurt at first to go through it. It hurt. I sat at home and I was like, ‘Man, I’ll never want to come outside again.’ I’m like, ‘Why?’”, he says, noting that it took him a few months to “think and understand myself, and just be — figure out who I am and where I want my life to go and what my kids think about me.”
Elije is suing the NBA star, claiming Dwight tried to harass him into signing a non-disclosure agreement after their alleged relationship ended. Dwight has denied the allegations and has since countersued.
Dwight, who missed almost all of last season due to injury, also opens up about his trade from the Washington Wizards to the Grizzlies during this past offseason. Part two of the interview will air tomorrow at 5:30 PM ET, where Dwight discusses his past tumultuous relationship with Kobe Bryant, and more.