"He used to have boxes on boxes of candy in the locker room," a source confirms to PEOPLE.
Dwight Howard battled an addiction so bad it started affecting his game in 2013, but the NBA star’s vice was not what you’d expect.
Howard was consuming the amount of sugar equivalent to 24 chocolate bars every day for possibly as long as a decade. “He used to have boxes on boxes of candy in the locker room,” a source confirms to PEOPLE.
The Lakers’ nutritionist, Dr. Cate Shanahan, who detailed his notorious sweet tooth for ESPN The Magazine, says the now Atlanta Hawks player would eat anything from Skittles, Starbursts, Rolos, Snickers, Mars bars, Twizzlers, Almond Joys, Kit Kats and his favorite: Reese’s Pieces. “You name it, he ate it,” she says. Howard kept his sugar stashes all over his home, in his car and at work.
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All of his preferred candies have about 230 calories per bag. If you do the math, that’s more than 5,500 calories per day, and that was just in candy. Shanahan also reveals his—and the NBA world as a whole’s—affinity for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Shanahan first got involved in Howard’s sugar intervention when his addiction caused tingling in his legs and hands, which kept him from catching the ball easily. He described the feeling as if his hands were wrapped in oven mitts. Shanahan suspected his sugar intake was causing a nerve dysfunction called dysesthesia.
The nutritionist and the Lakers’ strength and conditioning coach, Tim DiFrancesco, eventually convinced Howard to revamp his diet on one condition: He could still eat PB&Js. They indulged him by proposing a healthier alternative made with soft sourdough, organic peanut butter and low-sugar jelly. And the Lakers continue to serve the sandwiches—healthy and not-so-healthy versions—before each game.
“You pick your battles,” says DiFrancesco.