FILE – In this file photo dated February 12, 2020, Dwight Howard from the Los Angeles Lakers Center watches the first half of an NBA basketball Game against the Denver Nuggets in Denver. The mother of Howard's 6-year-old son died of an epileptic seizure almost six weeks ago, says the Lakers Center. Howard spent his break from basketball dealing with the difficult task of Melissa Rios to explain & # 39; death for her son, but also grateful for the chance to heal from the loss beyond the daily routine of the NBA schedule. (AP Photo / David Zalubowski, File)
LOS ANGELES – The mother of Dwight Howard's 6-year-old son died almost six weeks ago from an epileptic seizure, the Los Angeles Lakers Center says.
Although Howard spent the NBA break dealing with the difficult task of explaining Melissa Rio's death to her son, he is also grateful for the chance to cure the loss without the daily Effort of the NBA schedule.
"It was one of the most difficult things I ever had to deal with," said Howard. "It's really hard, especially at this time. There is no place to go. When things happen, we usually have basketball or something that keeps us going. But in such a situation, I have to worry about our child to grapple forever. "
Howard spoke on Friday about Rio's death in a video call from his out-of-season home in Georgia, where he lives with his children during the coronavirus pandemic.
Howard said he had a warm relationship with Rios and he literally texted Rios to invite her to stay with him in Georgia when he found out that she had died.
"It was very difficult to handle," said Howard. “It was pretty difficult to work with. It still is. But I attended the funeral. There was no way I could be there for my son and even for her family. I definitely would have felt that it would have been bad because she deserved it – he would have deserved better if I hadn't. "
Howard has five children between the ages of 6 and 12 and takes the chance to be a practical parent during this unwanted break from his first season with the Lakers. Howard and his children make bonfires, play card games, train together, and play hide and seek on his 23-hectare property.
"It was bittersweet because I want to play basketball, but my son needs me more than anything now," said Howard. "It is a situation that I would never expect, nobody would ever expect this pandemic, especially now. It only gave me a little more perspective on life."
Before Rio's death added a tragic turn, the pandemic had already interrupted an inspiring season for 34-year-old Howard. The eight-time All-Star selection is unlikely to become both a valuable reserve for the leading Conference Conference Lakers and a fan favorite at Staples Center, where he's been the most upset player in the past six years since he left the Lakers Fans was in 2013.
With LeBron James and Anthony Davis leading the way, the Lakers 49-14 were in their rocky season before the break. They had survived a turbulent trip to China the previous season, followed by the death of franchise icon Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash.
"I think I had the best time of my life just to enjoy the moment," said Howard. "I thought," Man, that's a really good feeling. "We won. We had various obstacles, like what was happening in China, and then obviously the Kobe situation, and then when the corona virus happened it was, so to speak:" Man, it just seemed like it was was. "Everything The things I had spoken and worked about in myself were brought to fruition, and it hurt when everything stopped."
Howard hasn't given up hope that the NBA season will have a happy ending. He's waiting to hear when he needs to return to Los Angeles – and though he knows this isn't likely, he'd like to end the season in front of Lakers fans rather than in an empty gym in Orlando or Las Vegas.
"I don't know how we could play a game without our fans," said Howard. "I don't know how anyone could. I think it could be different for fights, boxing and the like, but for basketball that is the energy. We feed on the crowd, especially at home – really, everyone is at home (the Lakers). ”
Until then, Howard said he would not leave his property in Georgia, which opens its public spaces faster than California and other states.
Howard plays ball and exercises every day, but he's also excited about the opportunity to be a full-time father. While talking to reporters outside, his voice was occasionally drowned out by the excited barking of Diablo, his Belgian Malinois, while playing with his children.
"It takes all day to play hide and seek," Howard said with a laugh. "I made a slide in the front yard. We come to the lake. We climb into the pool. We are boxing together. We run. We play Uno. We all play games so it was great. School is the hardest part for all of us. "
And does the 6-foot-10-Howard have a chance against his half pint children in hide-and-seek?
"Nobody actually finds me since I know my place," said Howard.
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