Who Is Dwight Howard's Fiancé, Te'a Cooper — And Was She Underage When They Got Together?

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Who Is Dwight Howard's Fiancé, Te'a Cooper — And Was She Underage When They Got Together?
Entertainment And News

There is no shortage of drama when people talk about NBA player Dwight Howard. The veteran center has been making headlines ever since he went right from high school to number one draft pick in 2004.

After years on the Orlando Magic, he started bouncing from team to team, sometimes only playing one season before heading out for a different city. He's had almost as many relationships: he currently has five children with five different women. 

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His most recent relationship is with fellow basketball player Te'a Cooper, a 21-year-old guard who plays for Baylor University. She and Howard don't deny they are engaged and she can be seen wearing a big engagement ring and a necklace with his initials.

But lately, there have been some questions about how the two met and how old — or young — she was when they got together. Who is Te'a Cooper? Read on for all the details. 

1. Who Dwight Howard's fiancé, Te'a Cooper? She's from Georgia originally.

Cooper grew up in Powder Springs, GA, the daughter of Kindall and Omar Cooper. She has three siblings: Mia, Sharife, and Omar.

While she was in high school, she was named a McDonald’s All-American player her senior year. As a grad student at Baylor, she is working on masters of divinity at the Truett Seminary after majoring in interdisciplinary studies at USC.

2. Cooper is a collegiate basketball player.

Cooper started her college basketball career at University of Tennessee in 2015 before transferring to the University of South Carolina where she led her team in scoring at 11.9 points per game and was second on the team with 66 assists in her final season there. As she went into what would be her graduate year, however, she wanted to change positions to handle the ball more.

She decided it was time for a change of team as well and looked to Baylor, where her good friend Chloe Jackson also plays. 

“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 said of the transfer. “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.” 

Cooper plays for Baylor University.

3. Cooper began her college career at the same time Howard was with the Houston Rockets.

As Cooper was navigating college athletics, Howard was already more than a decade into his professional career. In 2012, the team traded the 6'11" center to the Lakers, where he had an injury-plagued season there. Afterward, he went to Houston, where he spent two years.

The subsequent seasons saw him in Atlanta, Charlotte, and DC, before he signed with the Lakers again for the 2019 season. During that time, his career off the court was unsettled, and he was having trouble keeping endorsements and there were always rumors of conflict between himself and other players and coaches.

He reportedly had trouble getting along with Kobe Bryant in LA and in Houston and coaches even had to call a meeting between him and James Harden to talk about their on-court needs. 

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4. Howard's personal life has some pretty wild details.

Raised a devout Christian, when Howard first signed to the league just out of high school, he made promises that he would stay a virgin until he got married. He didn't. As of right now, he has five kids with five different people.

His oldest, Braylon, was born in 2017, and he talked about how having a child out of wedlock affected his faith, saying, “I felt like I didn’t need my relationship with God anymore and that caused a lot of pain.” Over the next few years, he had four more children: Jayde, Layla, David and Dwight III. He has been in and out of court over child support and custody. 

In 2018, a man named Masin Elije filed suit against Howard, claiming they had been in a relationship but he broke up with the NBA player after finding out that Howard cheated on him by going to "transgender sex parties." Eljie said that Howard had harassed and abused him in the aftermath of the breakup. 

Howard denied all the relationships, saying, “I’m not gay. It’s a lot of people who are, and they have to hide. And there’s people who have mental issues, and they have to hide, it’s people who have different problems in life, they have to hide, they have to put on a mask every day. I don’t want to wear no mask. I just wanna be.” 

“I saw all the hate, the pure hate from people that I’ve never met before just pile up, everywhere I went, against me,” Howard continued. “I think that liberated me, because I saw how a lot of people would feel whether they’re gay or straight, people are afraid to be who they are, they’re afraid to just step out and be, because they’re afraid of what other people might say about them. And so that situation made you realize ‘you’re not like this,’ but just be you, be free.”

5. In 2019, Cooper and Howard started showing up in each other's social media.

This summer, fans started noticing that Cooper and Howard were in each other's feeds and were hitting like on one another's post, though some posts have been deleted now. In August, there was a now-deleted post on Howard's page, showing him hugging Cooper while she flashed a major diamond ring. He captioned the photo "Mine" and tagged Copper.

When someone asked in the comments if they were engaged, he replied "Duh." In the months since then, Cooper has posted photos where she has been sporting a big necklace with his initials. She also attends his games, wearing his number

They seemed to confirm their engagement.

6. An anonymous tipster says Cooper was underage when they met. 

According to a tip on a sports blog, the couple may have met when Cooper was still in high school. The tipster wrote, "He was supposed to be a mentor to her and Rome [sic] other young girls he met her while she was in high school I seen some pictures and then she deleted them Dwight prays [sic] on young girls he knows they not that mature he is just sad I mean that it’s discusting [sic].” 

The anonymous tipster reportedly also said “dwight started sleeping with cooper when she was 18.″

There is almost nothing else that confirms this rumor about how the couple's history, though a more recent report also suggests that Cooper was in high school when they met, but there's no confirmation of her age, so it remains just that at this point: a rumor.

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Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. She is the creator of the blog FeminXer and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.

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