Dwight Howard Explains How He Ended Up With 5 Kids From 5 Different Women

Dwight Howard has gone from NBA superstar to an afterthought. Injuries, trades and a bad attitude led to the decline, but Dwight also touched on another area in a new feature from Sports Illustrated. Dwight says his need for “love and attention” coupled with a Christian lifestyle that didn’t match the NBA’s environment led him astray.

Dwight came into the league professing to be an 18-year-old virgin. He said religion was his anchor when he first came into the league but became a burden because of his new lifestyle.

“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 said, recalling the birth of his first child. “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. I felt like I didn’t need my relationship with God anymore, and that caused a lot of pain.”

Dwight is the father of five children by five different women, under the age of 10. His oldest son Braylon was with former Magic dancer and reality TV star Royce Reed. The rocky relationship and his response to being “outed” for not being the Christian choir boy he claimed to be, led to a series of Twitter battles and lawsuits.

Dwight previously avoided the topic of the number of children he has, but with another new team – he was traded after one season with his hometown Atlanta Hawks to the Charlotte Hornets in June – he seems to be more comfortable opening up.

He admitted that he should have been “more responsible” when he was younger, but now sees his children as a “blessing.” He also said he maintains relationships with all five of his kids, even though they live in different parts of the country.

All of his five kids live with their mothers—two in Florida, two in L.A., one in Houston—and share his last name. They FaceTime and text and visit Atlanta every off-season. They drink slushies and watch movies, appropriate since their taste in food and cinema is not much different from their father’s. When they tell him they love him, he turns away, so they can’t see him tear up. “It’s a tough situation, obviously,” Howard says. “I should have been more responsible. I messed up. I sinned. But I won’t look at any of them as a mistake. They’re all a blessing to me.”