Authorities in Georgia are investigating child abuse allegations against National Basketball Association star Dwight Howard, a center for the Houston Rockets who is among the league’s marquee performers, police said on Tuesday.
The allegation against the basketball star comes amid heightened attention to domestic violence incidents involving professional athletes including NFL star Adrian Peterson, who was suspended on Tuesday for “abusive discipline” on his 4-year-old son.
Police declined to elaborate on the details of the Howard investigation, which followed a prior probe of the same accusation in Florida. Entertainment news website TMZ said Howard is accused of beating his 6-year-old son with a belt buckle.
“The Cobb County Police Department’s Crimes Against Children Unit reopened their investigation into the allegations against Mr. Howard,” said Dana Pierce, a spokesman for the suburban Atlanta police department.
Howard’s attorney, David Oscar Markus, said in a statement that Florida authorities previously investigated the allegations and found them to be not substantiated. The Florida case was closed in September, Markus said.
The child’s mother, with whom Howard is involved in an ongoing Florida civil case involving child custody, “is now shopping her baseless allegations to authorities in Georgia,” Markus said.
In court documents from the Florida civil case, the NBA star said he disciplined his son “in an appropriate manner when necessary,” but “never caused marks, bruises, welts or injuries requiring medical treatment.”
Jane Carey, attorney for the child’s mother, declined to comment.
The 28-year-old 6-foot, 11-inch (2.11-meter) Howard, a 10-year NBA veteran, played for the Orlando Magic from 2004 to 2012. He has led the league in rebounding during five seasons and is an eight-time All-Star.
Before entering the NBA, Howard played high school basketball in suburban Atlanta.
(Editing by Jonathan Kaminsky, Cynthia Johnston and Sandra Maler)