The teenage daughter of troubled former NBA All-Star Antoine Walker is being kept from attending private school because her father has not paid the girl’s past tuition bills, her mother said in court today.
Donna Grant appeared in Cook County Court on Wednesday morning for an emergency hearing, hoping to force Walker to pay past due tuition bills to the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools where their daughter attends.
But a Circuit Court judge ruled that he could take no action on the matter because of Walker’s pending bankruptcy case.
Judge Michael Ian Bender said the federal courts will have to grant permission for Grant to continue to pursue tuition payments from Walker while he is in bankruptcy court.
According to records provided by Grant, Walker owes $27,817 to the Lab Schools for his daughter’s tuition. Walker’s 13-year-old daughter is a 7th grader at the school in Hyde Park. She has attended the exclusive private school all of her life, Grant said.
“She’s a great student. She sings in the children’s choir, does the school play, and she gets good grades,” Grant said of their daughter. “I can’t ask for anything better in a kid, so why hold her back? I’m fighting for what he has promised.”
Walker, 35, did not appear in court on Wednesday. He is currently on probation in Idaho after he pleaded guilty to not paying about $750,000 in gambling debts to three casinos. In order to leave, he has to get special permission from his parole officer, officials said.
But his attorney, Jessee R. Dagen, told the judge that Walker can no longer afford to pay for his daughter’s education. She said Walker has asked that his daughter be removed from the exclusive private school and enrolled in a less expensive school or sent to a public school.
“The tuition for the school far exceeds his income right now,” said Dagen, as she handed the judge documents which listed Walker’s income. “There are no additional assets or income. … He is unable to pay.”
At his peak, Walker earned about $110 million during the 13 years he played in the NBA. He was a three-time All-Star with the Boston Celtics and won an NBA championship while playing with the Miami Heat in 2006.
Walker grew up on the South Side and was a standout basketball player at Mount Carmel High School.
But in recent years, the 6-foot 8-inch forward has been plagued by financial problems and legal woes. In Chicago, he has been sued for not paying his debts, was accused of being a slumlord, and was the victim of a dramatic armed robbery in 2007 where he was bound with duct tape and stripped of his cash, jewelry and car.
Walker filed for Chapter 7 in May 2010 saying that he owed $12.7 million to creditors but only had $4.2 million in assets because of bad real estate investments and gambling losses. According to his bankruptcy file, he owes $1.2 million to casinos in East Chicago and Las Vegas.
In his bankruptcy file, Walker lists Grant as a recipient of child support, but doesn’t say how much he owes her. She said he has not made his $4,195 monthly child support payment in more than two years. She said he owes about $117,000 in past-due support.
In court, Judge Bender agreed with Grant’s attorney that the matter deserves emergency status and should be addressed immediately. But he said the federal courts will first have to issue a decision.
After the short hearing, Grant said she took her daughter to school on Tuesday after the holiday break, but the girl wasn’t allowed to attend classes because of the past due bills. She is paying the current tuition. Walker owes the school for the 2009-2010 school year.
Helen Ashford, Grant’s attorney, said they will seek permission to proceed and return to court on the matter in the next couple of weeks.
“It’s disappointing that Mr. Walker won’t do more to help his child get back in school,” Ashford said after the hearing, as she stood with Grant and the couple’s teenage daughter. “She is here today because she can’t go back. There is no comparable school or safe school in her community for her to go to.”
Walker’s attorney said the former star has been telling Grant for months that he can’t pay their daughter’s tuition.
“He’s not a deadbeat father and he’s very much in his daughter’s life,” Dagen said. “He’s not in the NBA anymore and he’s not making the income. He’s asking to work to find a proper school that is affordable for him and acceptable to her. He’s asking Mrs. Grant to be amenable to what he can afford and she’s not willing.”