Despite being injured for most of last season, Dwight Howard still stole NBA headlines after his alleged personal life spilled into the spotlight.

During a two-part episode of FS1’s Fair Game with Kristine Leahy, Howard spoke candidly about the rumors surrounding his sexuality, and the allegations that were made against him in March.

"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 "situation" Howard is referencing were allegations made against him by Masin Elije. Elije is a gay man and according to a story he revealed on twitter, he and Howard were engaged in a romantic relationship. Elije claimed that they stopped dating because Howard was cheating with other gay men. Once the relationship ended, Elije alleged that Howard and the NBA player's pastor Calvin Simmons tried to force him into taking "hush money" and signing an NDA. This behavior prompted Elije to file a lawsuit against Howard in March. Yet, like in his conversation with Leahy, Howard has insisted on several occasions that he has never met Elije. But, that didn't stop the media and fans from running with Elije's story. The online response to Howard following Elije's claims would make some people shy away from the public eye. But Howard explains to Leahy that he's found a sense of solace from the situation. 

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

"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 continued. "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." Howard then answered the questions surrounding his sexuality. 

"I'm not gay," Howard stated. "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 also described his reaction to being traded to the Memphis Grizzlies. Viewers can watch the full interview on July 17 and 18 at 5:30 p.m. ET on FS1.