Sunday , Jan , 20 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

Dwight Howard’s Illegitimate Child Shouldn’t Kill Image

There’s no question Orlando Magic star Dwight Howard had strayed from the evangelical Christian values he espoused throughout his career when he confirmed nine days ago that he has a child out of wedlock.

But national marketing analysts and Christian leaders argue Howard can easily keep his wholesome image relatively in tact.

"It probably won’t matter to a large percentage of his fans, but for those fans that his Christian message really resonated previously, it could matter," said Gregg Bennett, an assistant professor at Texas A&M University and a board member of the Sports Marketing Association. "I think from a marketing side, communication at this point is pretty important. If he still wants to be seen as a moral person of faith, then he needs to persuade folks that he is dealing with the issue straight on."

Howard’s child, Braylon Joshua Robert Howard, was born Nov. 18. The mother of the child is Royce Reed, a former Orlando Magic dancer. [Click here for more from the Orlando Sentinel.]