*Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still, whose relationship with his cancer-stricken daughter has made national headlines this season, has not paid child support for four months, according to the girl’s mother.
Channing Smythe, the mother of 4-year-old Leah Still, said she has been pushed to the brink of homelessness because Still refuses to provide child support.
“I don’t consider him a deadbeat dad,” Smythe told the Daily News on Wednesday. “I know he loves and cares for his daughter and he is there for her. I just need him to help me financially.”
Civil rights attorney Gloria Allred, who represents Leah’s mother, delivered a letter to the NFL on Tuesday asking the league to investigate if Still has violated its Personal Conduct Policy by failing to pay child support for the girl, who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare pediatric cancer in June.
“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 the letter addressed to NFL vice president Jeffrey Pash.
Smythe said in her declaration that she is unable to work because Leah’s treatment and care require full-time attention, adding they would be homeless if a friend of her mother’s had not permitted them to move in with her.
Smythe claimed she had to accept food stamps from July through October in order to feed herself and her daughter. Smythe and Leah live in Delaware, and Smythe said she has to borrow cars from friends and relatives to take the girl to Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia for treatment.
“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,” Smythe said.
Allred’s letter said Still has paid some child support in the past. The letter also said Smythe has a family law attorney who recently demanded that Still immediately pay his outstanding child support. Still, who is expected to earn about $570,000 for the 2014 season, then allegedly called Smythe and told her he would not pay any amount at all and would see her in court.
“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.”
Smythe was Still’s longtime girlfriend, but the couple split after Leah was born in April of 2010. He is now engaged to another woman. Still travels from Cincinnati to Delaware every week to spend time with his daughter, according to a recent profile in USA Today.
Devon Still has not commented on the Daily News article, but tweeted the following quote to the paper’s sports account @NYDNSports at about 2 a.m.: “‘Truth allows you to live with integrity. Everything you do and say shows the world who you really are. Let it be the truth.”
A photo posted by Devon Still (@man_of_still75) on
Still and his sick daughter represented a respite from months of bad publicity in the NFL. The All-American at Penn State, selected by the Bengals in the second round of the 2012 draft, said he would take a year off to be with his daughter, but he changed his mind because the NFL’s health benefits would cover 100% of Leah’s medical expenses. He told ESPN earlier this year the bill could reach $1 million.
But Still missed offseason training sessions in order to spend time with his girl and was cut by the Bengals in August.
“I completely understand where the Bengals were coming from when they cut me because I couldn’t give football 100% right now,” Still told ABC News in September.
The Bengals were cheered by fans and the media when the team decided to offer Still a spot on the practice squad, allowing him to continue to receive a salary and health insurance from the club. He was promoted to the 53-player roster in early September.
Allred’s letter asks Pash and the NFL to investigate if Still violated the league’s Personal Conduct Policy, which calls for players and employees to avoid “conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity and reputation of the NFL, NFL clubs, or NFL players.”
Smythe said in her declaration that she doesn’t doubt that Still loves Leah, who has a 50-50 chance of survival. But Leah needs more than his love, she said.
“I am happy that Devon visits Leah in the hospital and cares about her,” Smythe said. “I have always encouraged Devon to be involved in her life. I know that he is a good parent to her and that he loves her, but she needs and deserves both love and child support.
“Every parent owes that to their child.”