Former NBA star Dwight Howard took to social media to speak out at a time when his name is in the news cycle over allegations of sexual assault involving another man. However, it’s unclear what exactly the cryptic message is all about.
Howard’s social media post came just around the same time ESPN reported Wednesday morning that the former top NBA draft pick has denied sexual assault claims made in a lawsuit he is seeking to get dismissed.
Citing court documents, ESPN reported that Howard said Monday that he participated in “consensual sexual activity” with a man named Stephen Harper at the basketball star’s home in Georgia in 2021 but denied any assault taking place.
The Associated Press reported that Harper claims Howard had another “man dressed as a woman” identified only as “Kitty” join them.
More from the AP:
Harper says he tried to resist the two men, but Howard and Kitty forced him to participate in sexual activity.
“Mr. Harper was trapped in Defendant’s bedroom and believed that he would suffer imminent bodily harm if he resisted Defendant’s sexual advances,” the lawsuit said. Afterward, “Mr. Harper felt extremely violated and humiliated, and was in complete shock.”
Howard denied the allegations in his response, which says the three men agreed to “engage in consensual sexual activity.” He asked for a summary judgment, with court costs and attorney fees to be assessed against Harper.
In what may or not be a response to the media reports, Howard posted a video to Instagram on Wednesday accompanied by a brief note to his more than three million followers.
The video showed Howard going through basketball drills and carried a banner message in all capital letters across the top: “BIG ANNOUNCEMENT COMING SOON.” Those words were followed by a “shh” emoji suggesting it was a secret.
“Some gone love you,” Howard wrote in the post, “some gone hate you.” He continued after a shrugging emoji: “Do You!”
The post — which also played the song “Rolling Stone” by singer Brent Faiyaz — concluded with four hashtags: “#dwighthoward #nba #basketball #legend.”
Back in 2019, when Howard was playing in the NBA, he addressed rumors surrounding his sexual orientation.
The comments came one year after a man named Masin Elijè claimed Howard was his boyfriend, that the basketball star was into transgender sex parties and that Howard and his pastor conspired to kill him because he refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Elijè filed a lawsuit and Howard countersued, claiming everything Elijè, whose real name is Maurice Singletary, was lying.
Speaking to Fox Sports 1’s Kristine Leahy, Howard – who last year played in a Taiwanese professional basketball league – said:
“I went through a situation last year that really just set me free. It ended up being a situation that was—it went viral. People were talking about it, and it upset me because I didn’t even know who the person was. Why would somebody who I never met, never had any contact with, make up a whole story about me? I saw all the hate, the pure hate, from people that I’ve never met before, just pile up everywhere I went.”
“I think that liberated me. Because I saw how a lot of people would feel, whether they’re gay or they’re straight. Whether they have issues. People are afraid to be who they are. They’re afraid to just step out and be. Because they’re afraid of what other people might say or think about them. That situation made me realize you’re not like this, but just be you, be free.”
“I’m not gay.” But he explained the situation gave him empathy, “It’s a lot of people who are and they have to hide, and there’s people who have mental issues and they have to hide. There’s people who have different problems in life and they have to hide. They have to put on the mask every day, and it’s like, I don’t wanna wear no mask, I just wanna be.”
“I’m not gay… It hurt at first to go through it. I sat at home and I was like ‘I never want to come outside again.'” @DwightHoward spoke on the allegations that he was gay.
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) July 16, 2019
There remains a stigma around homosexuality in professional sports in the U.S.
In 2013, NBA player Jason Collins became the first and only openly gay player in the professional basketball league’s history.
The 2023-2024 NBA season kicked off on Tuesday night without Howard on any team’s active roster.
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