CINCINNATI — Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still called his former girlfriend’s comments about child support "untruthful" on Wednesday and said he’s letting the dispute play out in court.
Still’s 4-year-old daughter, Leah, has gained national attention for her fight against cancer. More than $1 million has been raised for cancer research and treatment from the sale of Still’s jersey.
The girl’s mother, Channing Smythe, told the New York Daily News for a story on Wednesday that Still hasn’t made child support payments for the last four months, causing a hardship for her and the girl. They live in Delaware and commute to Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia for treatment. Smythe and Still are no longer a couple.
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"I don’t consider him a deadbeat dad," Smythe told the newspaper. "I know he loves and cares for his daughter and he is there for her. I just need him to help me financially."
Still declined to be interviewed about the matter on Wednesday but issued a statement through the team that noted Leah’s fight against cancer has inspired many people.
"When she gets older, I want her to be able to look back and read about her positive impact on the world, not about the private issues her parents were going through," Still said in the statement. "I am not going to retaliate against the mother of my daughter, and the untruthful reports in the New York Daily News article, by criticizing her character.
"I am going to allow the court system to handle this matter, as it has been doing these past couple of months."
Coach Marvin Lewis praised Still on Wednesday for how he’s handled the last few months. His daughter was diagnosed with cancer in June and has undergone surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Still has commuted between Cincinnati and Philadelphia to be with her.
"He’s got support from everybody here," Lewis said. "I think Devon has grown up so much through this unfortunate illness that his daughter’s dealing with. It’s really grown him as a man and as a person and I told him that just today, how he’s handled everything and I’m so impressed.
"He’s really a beacon for a lot of people, he will be for a lot of young guys as they face different trials and tribulations as an NFL player because there are all the outside pressures that no one understands that guys go through. There’s this kind of pressure, there’s the pressure of playing, there’s the pressure of performing, all those things that occur and this one is really outside of football."