The last few months have been trying for most around the country, including NBA players, who were among the first to stop working when commissioner Adam Silver put a halt to the season on March 11 following the positive coronavirus test of Jazz center Rudy Gobert.
But the last few months have been especially difficult for Lakers center Dwight Howard, who has been back home in Georgia as he waits for the call back to action from the NBA. In addition to all that has been going on, Howard has been coping with the death of Melissa Rios, who was the mother of Howard’s 6-year-old son.
Rios passed away recently, Howard revealed to reporters this week.
“I’ve had some things happen in my personal life that has been difficult to really handle,” Howard said, according to the Los Angeles Times and ESPN. “My son’s mom, she had passed away a month and a half ago and 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, so I wouldn’t know how to talk to my son about it.”
Howard Attended Rios’ Service
Rios had an epileptic seizure in Calabasas, California, and died March 27. She is the mother of David, one of Howard’s five children. Howard said he went to the socially distanced funeral in Reno, Nevada, with David. It has been a lot to process, though, for both father and son.
Howard was reluctant to travel for the service but said it was important to be present.
“There was no way I could not be there for my son, and even for her family,” Howard said. “I definitely would’ve felt like that would’ve been bad. She deserves and he would deserve better if I didn’t do that.”
Howard has been excellent this season as a late-summer addition to the roster, earning minutes in a backup role and impressing coaches and teammates. He’s averaged 7.5 points and 7.4 rebounds, on 73.2% shooting, and 1.2 blocks in just 19.2 minutes per game.
At age 34, he’d like to keep his revival season going but it has been a blessing, in a way, to have the league in hiatus.
“It’s bittersweet,” Howard said, “because I do want to play basketball, but my son right now needs me more than anything.”
Howard Wanted Amends with Kobe Bryant
Howard and the Lakers were already wracked by tragedy earlier this year when franchise icon Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas in January.
Howard and Bryant had a rocky relationship as teammates in their first go-round in the 2012-13 season. Howard arrived via trade from Orlando but never really fit in with Bryant, who acknowledged that he didn’t much like Howard or think he worked hard enough.
But the two had moved toward reconciliation as Howard made an impact on the team this year. Howard said earlier in the year he regretted not having the chance to truly make amends with Bryant before his death. It’s all been part of a rewarding season on the floor and a difficult one off it for Howard.
“It’s just like one event after another,” Howard said. “The Kobe situation [Bryant’s death on Jan. 26], still trying to get over, just grieve over that. Even though me and Kobe wasn’t as close as me and my son’s mom were, but just trying to grieve over that, and then the corona situation, and then all of a sudden my son’s mom died. I’ve really just been trying to keep myself busy.”