Karl Malone is a Pathetic Human Being

Those of you who remember NBA basketball in the '90s no doubt remember Karl Malone. Malone, who was a standout for the hilariously-misnamed Utah Jazz, was a bruising power forward with tenacity, skill and a penchant for flopping. He was half of the fabled Stockton-Malone duo, and scored approximately eleventy billion points off of pick-and-rolls run by point guard John Stockton. He was named one of the NBA's 50 greatest players, and though he never won the NBA title, he's considered one of the best ever to lace up his shoes.

He's also a colossal jerk and a deadbeat dad.

You may have known that when he was 17, Malone fathered twins, including WNBA star Cheryl Ford. Malone was slow to accept responsibility for her and her brother Daryl, but eventually reconciled with them. What you might not have heard is that three years later, Malone fathered another son, Demetrius Bell, who was drafted this year by the NFL's Buffalo Bills.

Malone was 20 when Bell was born. Bell's mother, Gloria Bell, was 13.

In a column in the Buffalo News, Allen Wilson tells the story of Malone's relationship with his son, and his son's mother:

The two have had very little contact during Bell’s life. His mother, Gloria Bell, reportedly was only 13 years old and Malone a college sophomore at Louisiana Tech when Demetrius was born. Malone might have served jail time had her family asked the district attorney to file criminal charges.

Bell didn’t even know Malone was his father until after graduating from high school. When they finally met, Malone told the 18-year-old Bell it was too late to be his father, and that Bell would have to “earn his money on his own.”

In a 1998 story in the Salt Lake (Utah) Tribune, Gloria Bell said, “Demetrius is ashamed that his dad doesn’t claim him. But I’ve told him it is not his fault.”

Malone also fathered twins while in high school. One of them is WNBA star Cheryl Ford. It took years to claim the twins, and now he and his wife, Kay, fully accept them as part of their family.

But what about Demetrius? Doesn’t he deserve the same measure of love and recognition?

I can certainly relate to Bell’s experience. I didn’t meet my father until after my 40th birthday. Our separation was under different circumstances, but I can imagine how difficult it must have been for Bell not having a connection with the man partly responsible for his existence. At least my father and I have a relationship now.

As a first-time father, I can’t understand how any man could turn his back on his own blood. There’s a word for that, and it’s appropriate: Deadbeat.

Damn straight. Karl Malone is a millionaire several times over, but while it would have been right for him to support his son fiscally, it also is unconscionable that Malone never supported him emotionally, never even claimed him as his son.

Malone is exhibit one in why I can't climb on the MRA bandwagon and start complaining that women have it easier than men. The fact is that Karl Malone raped a 12-or-13-year-old (for it was statutory rape; a 13-year-old can't legally consent) and then abandoned the son they conceived. Abandoned them both to struggle through life. Simply walked away from his responsibilities, even though he would not have had to struggle to make things right.

Wilson closes his column thus: "Here’s hoping Bell has a long and prosperous NFL career. He might never be as great in his sport as Malone was in his, but Bell has already surpassed his father as a man." Amen to that. And here's hoping someone out there complaining about how easy mothers have it, how simple it is to trap men into parenthood, will read this and recognize that simply isn't the case. Because Gloria Bell couldn't just walk away from her son, even though she was but a child herself. Karl Malone walked away, straight into a hall-of-fame NBA career. Poor guy.

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