In a wide-ranging interview that will air on Fox Sports 1 on Wednesday and Thursday, Memphis Grizzlies center Dwight Howard addressed a number of rumors about his personal life and explained how he felt as he went through it all.

Howard's personal life was unfortunately thrust into the spotlight against his will last year when a man named Masin Elije wrote a lengthy Twitter thread that included a number of claims that Howard has since disputed.

According to Elije, he met Howard while filming and episode of Wild N' Out and they soon began a sexual relationship. Elije says he ended the relationship months later when he discovered Howard was having unprotected sex with transgender prostitutes at sex parties. Although Elije was criticized for allegedly publicly outing Howard without his consent, Elije said Howard's family members and friends were harassing and threatening him, leaving him no choice but to go public. 

The star NBA center, who was traded from the Washington Wizards on July 5, has repeatedly denied they were ever in a relationship and says he felt like he needed to address his sexuality after what happened last year and told FS1 Host Kristine Leahy that he was not gay.

“I’m not gay. 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,” he said.

“The situation was an allegation with a guy who said—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. Why would somebody who I never met, never had any contact with, make up a whole story about me? And I saw all the hate, the pure hate, from people that I’ve never met before, just pile up everywhere I went against me.”

Elije filed a lawsuit in March stating Howard threatened him in November after demanding Elije sign a non-disclosure agreement. According to Elije, he and Howard were in a relationship and had recently broken up. After the initial threat, Elije wrote about intimate aspects of their relationship on Twitter and said Howard's family members were now harassing him.

"Mr. Elije started receiving threats to his safety and well-being via a multitude of phone calls, text messages, communications on various social media platforms and emails, all of which were from unfamiliar or disguised sources," Elije's lawsuit said.

Howard has countersued Elije, who wrote and deleted a response to the video clip on Wednesday but continued to share tweets from others that criticized Howard. 

“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,” Howard said during the interview.

“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.”