The mother of Devon Still's cancer-stricken daughter has hired high-powered attorney Gloria Allred in an attempt to recoup allegedly missed child support payments from the Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle.
According to Michael O'Keeffe of the New York Daily News, Channing Smythe claims Still has not paid support in four months. Smythe, who is no longer with Still, said the ordeal has her on the brink of homelessness.
“I don’t consider him a deadbeat dad,” Smythe said Wednesday in an interview with the Daily News. “I know he loves and cares for his daughter and he is there for her. I just need him to help me financially.”
Allred, a New York-based civil rights attorney, contacted the NFL in an attempt to see whether Still's failed payments are a violation of the NFL's personal conduct policy. The attorney has been a longtime opponent of the NFL, most recently in cases involving alleged domestic violence and sexual assault.
In a letter sent to the NFL, Smythe claims she's been unable to make payments on her daughter Leah's medical bills—most notably for an ambulance—because Still has refused support.
“I have an outstanding medical bill for Leah for an ambulance for her,” Smythe said. “I have been unable to pay the ambulance bill, and it is not covered under insurance. If I were receiving child support for Leah I would be able to pay this bill, but since Leah’s father is refusing to provide child support I am unable to pay the bill for the ambulance.”
Still issued a response Wednesday, calling Smythe's statements "untruthful" and saying he would allow the courts to handle the matter, per Jay Morrison of the Cox Media Group:
Head coach Marvin Lewis also commented on Still and his situation, per ESPN's Coley Harvey:
He added, via Harvey:
We're not privy to all the facts of it, but Devon is very confident that he's taking care of business the right way and eventually, at some point, if there's things that need to be done through the legality through the courts that all would come out that way.
We're going to continue to support him. We're very confident in the things he's done.
Leah Still is the ex-couple's four-year-old daughter. She is currently fighting neuroblastoma, a rare form of brain cancer most often found in young children. Diagnosed in June, her fight has become one of the more heartwarming stories of the 2014 NFL season.
The Bengals signed Still to their practice squad, which made sure Leah could still benefit from his NFL insurance, after releasing him in the preseason. Still was promoted to the active roster in September, and proceeds of his jersey sales are going toward cancer research. Earlier this month the Bengals presented a $1.3 million donation to Cincinnati's Children's Hospital and Medical Center in Leah's name.
Smythe is said to have a family attorney along with Allred to handle the case. Smythe claims Still is involved with Leah's treatment but "she needs and deserves both love and child support," per O'Keeffe.
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