GEORGIA—On Friday, May 15, Los Angeles Lakers player and eight-time All-Star Dwight Howard revealed that Melissa Rios, the mother of his 6-year-old son David, passed away on March 20, 2020.

Howard shared the news with several reporters during a video conference call. Greg Beacham, one of the reporters, Tweeted that “Howard said the mother of his 6-year-old son died about 6 weeks ago. She had epilepsy and had a fatal seizure, the Lakers center says. He’s grateful he was able to be home in Georgia to be with his son and help him to process the loss.”

Howard has five sons by five women in total. He was reportedly in his 23-acre Georgia home with all of his children when he received news of Rios’s passing. USA Today mentioned that shortly before learning of her death, Howard had texted Rios about coming over to his home.

“Dwight Howard said he still kept in touch with the mother of his six-year-old son and managed to attend her funeral,” said Mark Medina, another reporter who was part of the conference call, on Twitter.

Although most of the reporters’ Tweets regarding the situation received an outpouring of well wishes for the family, Medina’s was met with generally negative – and sometimes scornful – responses. 

@LBJFan7 said: “Why is this news? The man had a child with her so I hope he did keep in touch with her and his child!” Similarly, @kezcartann commented: “Stayed in touch? Managed? That’s a pretty low bar.”

Beat reporter for the Los Angeles Lakers, Mike Trudell, stated that Howard’s “focus has been trying to be there for his son, trying to find the words to explain the loss of his mother.” Trudell was present during the call too.

He also shared that “during the hiatus, Dwight Howard has been at his home in Georgia working out every morning (he has a routine of boxing plus 100 pushups/100 situps/100 squats/running 2 miles), and spending time with his 5 children: in the pool, on his court, playing hide-and-go-seek on 23 acres.”