Los Angeles Lakers forward Dwight Howard on Friday revealed that the mother of his 6-year-old son died in March.
Speaking with reporters on a video conference call Friday, Howard said Melissa Rios died of an epileptic seizure on March 27 at her home in Calabasas, Calif. Rios was 31.
"It's extremely difficult for me to try to understand how to talk to my son who's 6 years old just about the whole situation," Howard told reporters on the call. "Something I've never experienced, so I wouldn't know how to talk to my son about it. So just with him being here and stuff like that, it's kind of given me some extra life."
Howard said he was texting Rios about coming to Georgia to shelter with him, their son, David, and Howard's other four children due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"As I was texting, that's when I got the call that she just passed," Howard said.
Howard said he and David attended Rios' funeral in Reno, Nev., adhering to social distancing measures.
"There was no way I could not be there for my son, and even for her family," Howard said. "I definitely would've felt like that would've been bad. She deserves and he would deserve better if I didn't do that that."
ESPN reported that a "handful" of Lakers players will report to the team's facility in El Segundo, Calif., on Saturday for the start of voluntary practices, but Howard plans to stay in Georgia "until everything's cleared up."
"It's bittersweet because I do want to play basketball, but my son right now needs me more than anything," Howard said.
Howard, 34, is averaging 7.5 points and 7.4 rebounds in 62 games (two starts) this season.
--Field Level Media