Getty Images Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard has played in Disney World, Hollywood and Space City. But when Howard's mother, Sheryl, thought he was headed for the Beehive State, she panicked.

"I played a prank on my mom," Howard said on CBS Sports Radio's Doug Gottlieb Show. "I wanted to see her reaction, so I told her, I said, 'Mom, I just got this big contract, $150 million.' And she was like, 'Oh my God, from who?' I said, 'Utah Jazz,' and she started crying. And I said, 'Mom, sorry, I was just joking, I'm coming home to Atlanta.' And then she was super happy and my family was super excited."

Howard, 30, actually signed a three-year, $70 million contract to play for the Hawks. He grew up in Atlanta, where his dad, Dwight Sr., was a Georgia state trooper and is the athletic director of Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy. Howard led Southwest to a state title in 2004, his senior year, when he won Naismith Prep Player of the Year and Gatorade National Player of the Year awards, among other honors. The Mr. Georgia Basketball was the first overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft.

Sheryl also has a basketball history in Atlanta. She was part of the first team at Morris Brown College, a historically black college in Atlanta.


My parents and I have come a long way. When she smiles. My heart smiles. #foe #TrueToAtlanta

A photo posted by Dwight Howard (@dwighthoward) on

Through nine games, Howard is averaging 15.2 points, 12.4 rebounds and 1.9 blocks with the Hawks. All three are improvements from his stats last season with the Rockets.

Meanwhile, the Jazz are perfectly fine on their own. Rudy Gobert, 24, is averaging 9.6 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks, as he evolves into a star at center.

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