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Reality TV star Evelyn Lozada, the estranged wife of NFL player Chad Johnson, said she still loves her husband “more than anything,” but she is “afraid” of him and believes he “needs to get help.”
“It’s the hardest thing in the world to walk away from someone that you really love,” Lozada told “Nightline” in an exclusive interview. “But you have to walk away because I have to protect myself.”
In her first interview since she filed for divorce from the former Miami Dolphins receiver, formerly known as Chad “Ochocinco,” after an argument between them became physical, Lozada talked about ending her six-week-long marriage to Johnson, what she says happened the night they argued and how she is coping. She said she will not get back together with Johnson and refuses to talk to him.
“I believe he loves me. I believe he needs to get help,” she said. “He’s a good guy that made a bad choice. He loves football and he’s very driven and a great dad. He made a bad choice that destroyed his life, and I hate that I’m connected to that.”
Watch ABC News’ Amy Robach’s exclusive interview with Evelyn Lozada with “Nightline” TONIGHT at 11:35 p.m. ET
Johnson’s publicist declined to comment on what Lozada said in the interview.
On Aug. 11, Lozada was taking groceries out of a car that Johnson used to drive to football practice when she said she found a bag in the backseat with a toothbrush holder and a Walgreens receipt for a box of condoms inside. The receipt was dated July 20, she said, three weeks after they were married.
When Johnson came home later that evening, Lozada said she got into his car to confront him about the receipt and threatened to leave him.
“And then the next thing I know, he grabbed me by here [pointing to her head] and he head-butted me,” Lozada said. “I felt blood coming down my face… and I looked at him and I said, ‘You just head-butted me?’ And it just — everything just felt if it was in slow motion.”
The 36-year-old reality star said she tried to remain calm during the exchange because she said Johnson was angry, and denied he had done anything wrong.
“He was gone to me, like, it wasn’t him,” she said. “He got out of the car, really, really quick and ran into the house, and I said to myself, ‘I need to get out of here.'”
Lozada said she ran to a neighbor’s house where she hid outside until the neighbor came home and called the police. She then went to the hospital where she said she received six stitches on her forehead.
Johnson, 34, was arrested that evening and charged with misdemeanor domestic battery. He spent the night in Broward County, Fla., jail, and was released on $2,500 bond, according to jail records. Following his arrest, the Dolphins cut the six-time Pro Bowl receiver from the team.
Just two days after the incident, Lozada filed for divorce, ending the couple’s 41-day “fairytale” marriage.
“I said to myself, ‘I’m never going to go through that again, ever,'” she said. “I don’t think any woman should ever have to feel like that or be fearful of her husband.”
Johnson denied that he head-butted Lozada, and in fact, told police Lozada head-butted him. An avid Twitter user, Johnson has used the social media tool to air his feelings about these past few weeks.
“I made the bed now I gotta lay n it,” he tweeted to his 3.7 million followers on Wednesday.
In response to a fan who asked why he deleted his bio off his Twitter page, Johnson tweeted, “I got to start life over and create a new one.”
On Aug. 14, just a day before Lozada filed for divorce, Johnson posted a statement on his official website, OCNN, saying, “I am going to let the legal process run its course. I wish Evelyn nothing but the best, I have no negative words to say about her, the only thing I can say is I love her very much.”
“I will continue to be positive and stay training hard for another opportunity in the NFL. I appreciate all my fans and supporters and if I have disappointed you in any way, you have my sincerest apologies. Once again I will continue to stay positive and appreciate all the support during this tough period in my life,” Johnson said.
Lozada was a cast member on the VH1 reality TV series “Basketball Wives” when she was engaged to former Celtics player Antoine Walker. The couple broke up in 2009, and she began dating Johnson the following year.
After a whirlwind engagement, Lozada and Johnson married on July 4 and their much-publicized wedding in St. Maartin was the subject of VH1’s reality TV show, “Ev & Ocho.” The show, which was slated to premiere on Sept. 3, has since been dropped.
Because their marriage only lasted 41 days, some skeptics claim that it was just a publicity stunt for reality TV, but Lozada said that was not the case.
“I was a very good fiancé and wife to Chad. I did everything I could to make his life better,” she said. “The person on ‘Basketball Wives’ is not the person at home. I don’t think he would marry me if I was.”
She hasn’t been back to the couple’s home since the incident, Lozada said, and believes that being away from each other is the “right thing” for both of them.
“I still love him,” she said. “I feel bad for him because his life is now a mess.”