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NBA star Dwight Howard sat down for an interview on FS1’s Fair Game with Kristine Leahy to discuss allegations which surfaced last year.

While sexuality is a deeply private matter and frankly no one’s business, Howard felt inclined to answer Leahy’s direct question on whether or not he was sexually attracted to other men.

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Last fall Howard was the subject of much attention after a gay man named Masin Elije said the two once engaged in a sexual relationship. Elije claimed that the relationship ended once he found out that Howard engaged in sex parties with trans women. Elije took to social media in an attempt to expose the NBA star by releasing alleged screenshots and audio of the two communicating with one another. Elije said they were also verbally threatened by some of Howard’s associates. Elije filed a suit against Howard, to which Howard counter sued earlier this year. Howard has since maintained that he never knew Elije nor engaged in any type of relationship.

“I went through a situation last year that kind of, um, just, it really just set me free,” Howard began.

“The situation was an allegation with a guy who said—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,” Howard said. “Why would somebody who I never met, never had any contact with, make up a whole story about me. And I saw all the hate, the pure hate, from people that I’ve never met before, just pile up everywhere I went against me.”

“I think that liberated me, because I saw how a lot of people would feel, whether they’re gay or they’re straight, or whether they have issues, people are afraid to be who they are,” he said. “They’re afraid to just step out and be, like you said, because they’re afraid of what other people might say or think about them. And so that situation made me realize, you not like this, but just be you, be free.”

“I’m not gay,” Howard answered as Leahy asked if he was sexually attracted to other men. “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.”

Howard said the situation made him retreat to his home for a few months and re-evaluate who he is.

The full interview is scheduled to air as a two-part episode on July 17 and 18.

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