Unlike the twins Daryl and Cheryl Ford (she plays for the WNBA's Detroit Shock), Malone has had no reconciliation, as of yet, with Bell. The football player does not express bitterness.
"I grew up around good people," Bell said. "I never turned to a father figure. I was lucky. I didn't need one. I'm happy. I don't need anything else."
If Al Sharpton is itching to picket something, he should organize a protest outside Malone's house, since the National Fatherhood Initiative says two out of three African-American children grow up without their father in the home.
Roger Clemens' alleged seedy indiscretions -- including a possible sexual relationship with a 15-year-old -- are nothing compared to what Malone has done. Malone reportedly impregnated Bell's mother when she was 13 and he was a sophomore at Louisiana Tech. Malone is lucky Chris Hansen wasn't around and he didn't have to answer to the authorities.
It would be one thing if Malone was unable to financially provide for his son, but he made more than $100 million during his NBA career. The Salt Lake (Utah) Tribune reported that when Bell's grandparents initially took Malone to court for paternity in 1986, his second year with the Jazz, they requested Malone pay $200 a week. Malone didn't respond to the suit, but a Louisiana judge ruled he was Bell's father -- after a paternity test showed that was indeed accurate -- and ordered Malone to pay $125 a week, plus past and future medical expenses. Malone claimed that was too much and later reached a confidential out-of-court settlement with Bell's family between 1988 and 1989.
I don't even know what to say about Malone's role in all this. Obviously, assuming everything is as reported, it's absolutely terrible.
There is, I suppose, some redemption in the reality that Bell, at least, seems to have not let his lack of a father make him a victim. Read Hill's whole story for some remarkable tales of Bell's lightning fast development as a football player. And hats off and a heartfelt happy Mother's Day to Bell's mother, for apparently raising a successful and well-adjusted child without a father around.