NBA star Dwight Howard has been struggling to cope with the passing of Melissa Rios, the late mother of his 6-year-old son David Howard.
On March 27, Melissa Rios, a real estate agent and epilepsy advocate, tragically died of an epileptic seizure at her home in Calabasas, California at the age of 31. In a conference call with reporters on May 15, Dwight Howard discussed his grief and how difficult it is for him to talk to young David about his mother’s death.
“I’ve had some things happen in my personal life that has been difficult to really handle. My son’s mom, she had passed away a month and a half ago and 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,” said Howard. “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. But I also try to think about how to cope with losing somebody like that.”
Since the NBA season was suspended on March 11 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Dwight Howard and his son have been quarantined at his Georgia home. Howard was reportedly inviting Rios to stay with them at his home when he received the news of her untimely death.
Afterwards, Dwight and David Howard attended Melissa Rios’ funeral services on April 13 at Our Mother of Sorrows Catholic Cemetery in Reno, Nevada. Due to coronavirus restrictions, Rios’ family were unable to hold a traditional funeral, so they had a viewing and an outdoor burial for a few friends and family.
“There was no way I could not be there for my son and even for her family,” said Howard. “I definitely would’ve felt like that would’ve been bad. She deserves and he would deserve better if I didn’t do that.”
During this painful time in his life, Dwight Howard says that spending time with David and his four children has given him comfort and a renewed gratefulness for what he has. “Just being with [my son] and seeing him grow has kept me more grounded and understanding that every moment counts. Be grateful for every situation that you have and just be grateful for life,” says Howard.