(via CBS Sports)

For being an 8x All-Star, 3x Defensive Player of the Year, and 2x Block Champion, Dwight Howard is (perhaps) the most bullied NBA star today. Whether it’s by being sold out by guys in the locker room. or become the face of memes and jokes by the fans, Dwight has had to deal with an unprecedented amount of scrutiny since at least 2013.

The latest, and most severe, of the claims against Dwight involve rumors of his sexuality. In the spring, Dwight was accused of being in, and covering up (via threats, “hush” money, and bully tactics) a romantic and sexual relationship with Masin Elije — a supposed gay man who told his completely unconfirmed story on Twitter. As expected, despite the lack of real evidence, people attacked Howard through social media, branding him as a gay man who bullied his partners into keeping his secrets.

On Tuesday, the NBA big man opened up about the incident, attempting to put to bed the rumors once and for all.

“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. I saw all the hate, the pure hate, from people that I’ve never met before, just pile up everywhere I went.”

The hate against Dwight has always been extreme and unnecessary. But since the accusation earlier this year, his name has rarely been mentioned without some degree of demeaning wordage behind it.

Regardless of the truth to the matter, Dwight Howard has found solace in light of the situation. Not everybody would.

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