On the surface, it’s difficult to generate much sympathy for Dwight Howard, a once-great NBA talent who seemingly wasted it all because of his penchant for candy, his reluctance to grow up, and his inability to get along with anyone in Orlando, Los Angeles, Houston, and Atlanta over the last five years.
But … if you read this Sports Illustrated piece on Howard, you’ll get a sense of how it all went so wrong. But first, a memory jog:
In 2008, Dwight Howard had more endorsement deals than LeBron James. He appeared in seven nationally televised commercials. He disproved the long-held notion that big men beyond Shaq can’t move product. A year later he racked up 3.1 million All-Star votes, still the most ever.
Nine years later, and Howard, 31, looks washed up on the court, and has five children with five different women (in three different states) off the court. How did it all go so wrong? You’ve really got to read the piece, but in summary: He wasn’t ready to make the leap from coddled, religious high school kid into NBA superstar. He fell victim to a lot of temptation, and had to grow up quickly in the NBA world that waits for nobody. Friends and family took advantage of him.
I’m not giving Howard a pass, but if you read the story, you will realize: People suck. It can be difficult for a young 21-year old who has come into a lot of fame and fortune, to tell people – including your family – no. [via Sports Illustrated]