Dwight Howard is a larger-than-life personality. His dominant on-court production is met by a lighthearted approach to life, thus resulting in glaring smiles and unparalleled popularity around the league.
Unfortunately, that all took a turn for the worse during the 2011-12 NBA season. Howard was involved in a series of high-profile rumors surrounding his desire to be traded by the Orlando Magic (via ESPN New York).
Fortunately for Howard, a non-basketball related story may just be the cure-all that he needed to ease the minds who doubted his character.
According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles, one of the hidden stories about Howard's lifestyle is his aversion of alcohol.
Don't believe it? Check McMenamin's breakdown of Howard's one lifetime drink.
Dwight has never been drunk in his life. In fact, he's only had one alcoholic drink in his 26 years: a celebratory shot of CÎROC (P Diddy's top-shelf vodka) with his friends when the Lakers trade became official this summer.
Is Dwight Howard's alcohol-free lifestyle claim just another D12 fib? To put it simply, no it is not.
It is a sign of how far this young man has come since the Orlando Magic trade debacle.
Albeit an odd way to do so, that first shot of alcohol was a sign of Howard letting go of the distractions. It was his way of escaping a shaky past and starting anew with a franchise that is looking to embrace his comical personality and cherish his talents.
Most importantly, a place that is willing to give Howard the supporting cast that he needs to win an NBA championship. As history has told us, accomplishing that feat tends to put an end to all criticism.
Doesn't it, LeBron James?
To the average fan, this story will mean virtually nothing. This is just another example of a star player having a back story that appears to be more important than it actually is.
Temper your pessimism and accept this story for what it is: refreshing.
We live in an era in which athletes are consistently finding themselves in trouble with the law. When they aren't having trouble with the police, then they're usually just violating either team or league policies.
Not Dwight Howard.
D-12 has dedicated himself to a life of high morality and a focus on his craft. The result has been legendary, as Howard is on pace to become one of the greatest statistical players in the history of the NBA.
As a three-time Defensive Player of the Year and six-time All-NBA selection, it's safe to say that the awards reflect such dominance.
Rather than questioning the validity of this story, accept and embrace it. Allow Howard to be an influence in the pursuit of your dreams, as keeping an eye on the prize at all times is the perfect way to live them.
He hasn't had the best calendar year. Through all of the controversy and surgery, however, one thing has emerged as an overwhelming truth.
Dwight Howard is the type of player you can look up to.