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There was a time when former NBA center Dwight Howard was one of the league’s brightest stars but his career seemed to change overnight. After making headlines for years as the best big man, his status fell drastically in 2008 and he bounced around to multiple teams as those he once played with celebrated his exit.

In the 2019-20 season, his return to LA became his redemption tour and pretty much revitalized his career. The ex-Lakers also found love with a fellow athlete, but not long after walking down the aisle the pair split. Read on to find out more about Howard’s ex-wife Te’a Cooper, and why their relationship raised eyebrows.

(L) Te’a Cooper, (R) Dwight Howard
(L): Te’a Cooper | Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images, (R): Dwight Howard | Zhong Zhi/Getty Images

Howard’s relationship drama has been in the spotlight for years

Howard has five children by five different women and has captured the public’s attention plenty of times for all his baby-mama drama as well as who he may or may not have dated.

The eight-time NBA All-Star has been in and out of court over child support payments as well as other disputes with the mothers of his kids. Royce Reed, who is the mom of his oldest son, Braylon, was an original cast member of the VH1 show Basketball Wives. However, she was not legally permitted to discuss Howard on the program due to a gag order.

Someone who did talk about the NBA center and even filed a suit against him was a man named Masin Elije, who claimed that he had been in a relationship with Howard. As reported by Deadspin, Elije alleged that after breaking up with the basketball player for cheating on him at “transgender sex parties,” Howard harassed him.

The former NBA player denied ever being in a relationship with Elije.

Cooper is an athlete as well and played in WNBA

Howard put his rocky love life behind him when he started a new chapter with Cooper.

She was born in Newark, New Jersey to parents Kindall and Omar, but she grew up in Powder Springs, Georgia, and has three siblings: Mia, Sharife, and Omar Jr.

Cooper started her college basketball career at the University of Tennessee in 2015 before transferring to the University of South Carolina. She then decided to make another change that was best for her and enrolled in Baylor.

“I just felt like I was playing out of position and I really wanted to end my last year playing as a point guard,” Cooper explained. “My family agreed to it and I took the steps to do so and coach (Kim Mulkey) was cool with it. So we made that decision.” 

After college, Cooper played for the Los Angeles Sparks for two seasons.

Why their relationship raised some eyebrows

Howard and Cooper’s relationship and engagement news did raise a few eyebrows when it first came out due to their 13-year age difference and rumors that Cooper was still a teenager when they got together.

The couple got married secretly in 2020, but their marriage didn’t last. The two parted ways in 2021 when fans speculated about their separation due to them unfollowing each other on social media.

Read more: How Long Have LeBron James and His Wife Been Married and How Many Children Do They Have?