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Dwight Howard Gets Real About Being a Christian in the NBA

Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard shares perspective on career ups and downs and the ministry he believes God has called him to as one of the NBA’s best players. Read Transcript


[MUSIC PLAYING]

Over the past 12 seasons, few players

have been more dominant inside the paint than Houston Rockets'

Dwight Howard.

The eight-time all-star entered the league

the first overall pick in the 2004 NBA draft,

fresh out of high school.

Coming into the league you had a mission.

What was the mission?

My mission was to preach God's word in the NBA,

use the NBA as a platform for God.

But for a 19-year-old entering the NBA,

Dwight says it was a daily struggle

to stay focused on God.

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.

In nine seasons with the Magic, Dwight

became a three-time defensive player of the year,

made six all-star game appearances,

and became the franchise's all-time leading scorer.

But with success came temptation.

And in 2007, he became a father and wasn't married.

And he took a lot of heat because of it.

If you're a professional athlete,

and you come out and tell the world,

hey, I'm a Christian, for some people

and for people that don't quite understand what that means,

all of a sudden believe that you can't make mistakes.

That is correct.

When I came out, you know, I wanted everybody

to know that I am a man of faith.

I believe in God.

And I will always believe in Him.

And you know, the minute I messed up, the minute I sinned,

everybody took a shot at it.

And you're supposed to be a Christian.

But Jesus died on the cross for our sins.

You know, so if he's willing to forgive us,

why can't we forgive each other?

Towards the end of the 2012 season,

rumors of friction between him, his coach, and teammates

began to brew.

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.

Then, in August, Dwight was traded to the Lakers.

There, it was difficult for him to play at a high level,

because he still needed time to heal from surgery.

You know, I'm trying to play.

And I'm still not 100%.

You know, and I was getting demolished for that.

Aw, he's not playing hard enough.

He can't duck anymore.

He can't do this.

And I'm like, God, why do I have to go through this?

But He said just keep going.

You know, just stay strong.

When the season concluded, Dwight was a free agent

and decided to leave Los Angeles and sign with the Rockets.

And that didn't go over well with Laker fans.

And now, everybody hates me again and I'm like, oh, my God.

God, please, just do something.

And you know, He said, listen, man, if the whole world hates

you, I love you.

Always remember that.

You know, so I was like, OK.

And I just tried to put away all the hate and everything

like that and just focus on my relationship with him.

Now, Dwight is in his third season with Houston.

Make no mistake about it, he wants to win.

He's just working hard to remember his true calling.

Oh, wow.

[LAUGHTER]

I mean, I just remember this whole like it was yesterday.

Wow.

When you look at that guy, how does that guy in that newspaper

shot differ from the guy I'm sitting across from right now?

Well, I would say this guy in the newspaper

is full of life, no care in the world, no worry.

That's a young kid who didn't know anything about the world.

And the guy that's in front of you

is the guy who's seen, heard, been around, been

through a lot of different situations.

And if I was to go back and tell the guy in this picture right

here, I would say never let nothing steal your joy,

because you're going to go through hell.

That's a lesson Dwight had to learn the hard way.

Today, his mission is still the same.

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.

What has Jesus Christ meant to you?

Man, just my rock.

You know what I'm saying?

My foundation, when things are going wrong,

when I'm at a bad place.

When I'm sad, you know, I feel like he's there.

He's my foundation.

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.

We connected forever.

So that's what He is.

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