NBA Center Dwight Howard Discusses How Jesus Is His ‘Rock and Foundation’
By Movieguide® Staff
Note: This story is part of our Faith in Hollywood series. For similar stories, click here.
NBA all-star Dwight Howard dominated the league early in his career after the Orlando Magic took him as the first pick in the 2004 draft straight out of high school.
Although Howard was an outspoken Christian, the three-time defensive player of the year confessed that it was difficult to hold to beliefs as a 20-year-old with millions of dollars.
“My mission was to preach God’s Word in the NBA, use the NBA as a platform for God,” Howard told CBN in 2016. “There’s times where it was very overwhelming. It was like, man, this is so much that everything is at my disposal. All I got to do was just go reach and it’s mine.”
Howard spent his first nine seasons with the Magic, cementing himself as one of the team’s franchise players with the all-time leading scorer and six all-star appearances. However, Howard noted that fans started questioning his faith when he had a child in 2007 and was not married.
“When I came out, I wanted everybody to know that I am a man of faith. I believe in God and I will always believe in Him,” Howard said. “The minute I messed up, the minute I sinned, everybody took a shot at it, ‘you’re supposed to be a Christian.’
“But Jesus died on the cross for our sins,” he continued. “You know, so if He’s willing to forgive us, why can’t we forgive each other?”
In 2012, the judgment from fans continued to weigh on Howard, and he left the Magic to join the Los Angeles Lakers. However, due to surgery, Howard said fans again criticized his play.
“Everybody made me look like the worst guy in the world – a coach killer, the guy who hates his teammates, a cancer, all this stuff that I’m not,” Howard explained. “You know, I’m trying to play, and I’m still not 100%. I was getting demolished for that, ‘Aw, he’s not playing hard enough. He can’t dunk anymore. He can’t do this.'”
“I’m like, ‘God, why do I have to go through this?’ But He said just keep going, just stay strong,” he added. “He said, ‘Listen, man, if the whole world hates you, I love you. Always remember that.’ I just tried to put away all the hate and everything like that and just focus on my relationship with Him.”
As Howard healed physically, so, too, did his faith in God. While on the Houston Rockets, Howard returned to a healthy level of play and made sure that fans understood that God was his rock.
“When I’m on the floor and I let people see the guy they meet, whether that be me having fun blocking the shot and smiling, dunking and smiling, or whatever it may be, we’re just having fun and playing with peace and joy,” Howard said at the time.
“Man, [Jesus is] just my rock. My foundation when things are going wrong, when I’m at a bad place, when I’m sad, I feel like he’s there,” Howard concluded. “He hurts when I sin, but instead of him turning his back on me, he’s like, ‘hey, come back. I still love you. I’m not going to leave. I’m here for you.'”
After three seasons with the Rockets, Howard bounced around the league, even returning for another season with the Lakers.
Last year, the Philadelphia 76ers signed Howard to a one-year deal. Howard and the Sixers made a run in the 2021 playoffs before losing to the Atlanta Hawks in the second round.
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