Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still has not paid child support for months for his 4-year-old daughter, according to a letter the child’s mother sent the NFL that The New York Daily News obtained.
Still’s daughter, Leah, was diagnosed in June with neuroblastoma, a rare pediatric cancer. Civil rights attorney Gloria Allred, who represents Leah’s mother, Channing Smythe, sent a letter to the NFL to investigate if Still has violated the league’s personal conduct policy for failing to pay child support, the Daily News reports.
"I don’t think it is fair that Devon Still, who is Leah’s father, has refused to pay any child support for her for the months of August, September, October and November of this year," Smythe said in a declaration that accompanied Allred’s letter, which was addressed to NFL vice president Jeffrey Pash.
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Smythe said in the declaration that her daughter requires full-time attention, which does not permit Smythe the time to work. She added that Smythe and Leah would be homeless if not for a friend of Smythe’s mother, who permitted them to move in.
"We are unable to take public transportation such as the train because of Leah’s low immune system and because of my desire not to expose her to others given her medical condition," said Smythe, who was Still’s longtime girlfriend but the couple split before Leah was born.
Still, who is scheduled to make $570,000 this season, has paid child support in the past, according to Allred’s letter. Allred added in the letter that Smythe’s family attorney demanded that Still catch up on his child support payments, but that he refused and would see Smythe in court.
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"I have an outstanding medical bill for Leah for an ambulance for her," Smythe said in her declaration. "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’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, and a Bengals spokesman did not respond to the Daily News’ request to comment, according to the paper. Still tweeted a response to the paper’s twitter account in response to the story and released a written statement on Wednesday.
It reads: "My daughter’s battle with cancer has been inspirational to many all over the world. 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. 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 continue to allow the court system to handle this matter, as it has been doing these past couple of months.”
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said the team will stand behind Still.
"Devon’s dealing with something and we’re confident and we’re not privy to all the facts of it, but Devon is very confident he’s taken care of business the right way," he said. "Eventually at some point obviously if there’s things that need to be done through the legality through the courts it will come out that way. We’re going to continue to support him and we’re very confident in the things that he’s done."
Still became a national story when the Bengals said they would keep the defensive tackle on the team’s practice squad so he could retain health insurance for Leah. The team then announced it would donate 100 percent of the proceeds from Devon Still jersey sales to pediatric cancer research. The Bengals presented a check for $1.3 million to Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital for pediatric cancer research during a ceremony at Paul Brown Stadium when the team played the Browns.