This was posted on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 by Rodney Ho on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Former NFL player Ed Hartwell is trying to convince a Fulton County Superior Court judge to give him joint custody of his infant daughter with actress Keshia Knight Pulliam.
The couple married early last year but the relationship quickly went south. He filed for divorce in July, 2016. Seven months later, the acrimonious divorce has yet to be finalized. The birth of their child Ella Grace earlier this year has only complicated matters.
"The Petitioner should be granted liberal visitation/parenting time with the minor child," Hartwell's amended divorce complaint filed March 21 said. Hartwell wrote that he is also willing to pay child support.
C. David Joyner, Hartwell's attorney, declined to comment. A woman working for him told me the judge Belinda E. Edwards informed both parties to avoid engaging with the press. (Knight Pulliam's attorney is reportedly Tanya Mitchell Graham, who has represented Ciara and Ludacris in the past regarding similar custody issues, according to Sandrarose.com.)
On March 20, Hartwell filed affidavits vouching for him from a whopping 25 friends, community members, clients and family members including his ex wife and former "Real Housewives of Atlanta" castmate Lisa Wu. TMZ broke the news of the filings earlier today. I was able to procure the paperwork this afternoon from the Fulton County courthouse.
Wu and Hartwell share custody of their nine-year-old son EJ. They divorced in 2011.
To help Hartwell out with his request for joint custody for his daughter, Wu wrote to the court that "his support as co parent was exemplary in loving and assisting to care for my two older boys from a previous marriage. Although our marriage did not work, I never felt compelled to petition the courts for anything regarding our child. I was confident that he would always do the right thing with our child's best interest at heart."
Wu wrote that the two have solid communication and have not had any issues they couldn't resolve between the two of them regarding EJ. EJ is with Hartwell two weeks out of the month and is "more than willing to pick up any slack if I have to go away to work on a project," Wu wrote. "Our child lives in two separate households but he is balanced, knows that he is loved by both parents and is never in an environment that is unsafe or one that would negatively affect his well being."
Wu added that "I am positive that Edgerton will put his daughter's best interest first as has has shown with my children."
Knight Pulliam is best known as Rudy on "The Cosby Show" and Miranda on "Tyler Perry's House of Payne." In recent years, she has appeared on reality shows such as "Celebrity Apprentice" and "Splash." She has accused Hartwell of creating stress and trying to trigger a miscarriage while she was pregnant, an allegation he vehemently denied. He later did a paternity test which proved Ella Grace is his child.
Besides Wu's affidavit to support Hartwell, here are a sampling of others he filed Monday:
Derriyon Shaw, his nephew, wrote: "Without my uncle's strong presence and teachings, I don't know where I would be as of right now... my uncle was my hero growing up and will continue to be my father figure and a great uncle."
Dannell T. Grayson, a long-time friend, wrote about Ed's relationship with his son EJ: "Watching Ed and EJ always puts a smile on my face because the love between them is unconditional. Ed provides a stable life for EJ that includes a warm and loving home environment. As a result, EJ has developed into a well-rounded child who maintains good grades in school."
Kemia Thompson, who has been close friends with Wu for many years and cited EJ as her godson, said Hartwell has embraced his two stepsons as his own. She said she also said she saw him as a great hands-on dad to EJ, noting "he did feedings, baths, diaper changes and bedtime... No one can ever question the love he has for his children and his family... Ed is the dad I wish I had."
Marquis Boone, Hartwell's pastor, called him "loving, caring, compassionate... This man is one of the most awesome fathers I know."
Yolanda Salter, a single mom, said Hartwell mentors her son. "He has been very instrumental in my son's success," she wrote. "The only thing that I've seen him demonstrate is nothing but kindness. Edgerton is a very respected man in the community."
His sister Wynona Hartwell said "family means everything to him... I have had conversations with my brother and I have witnessed the hurt he experiences due to Keshia Knight Pulliam-Hartwell not allowing him to see his daughter. Ed would be nothing but the best father to Ella Grace Hartwell and it pains me to see her mother Keshia go to such great extremes to try and discredit the character of my brother Ed."
His mom Ruth Hartwell touted her son's community service and philanthropic efforts as well as his deep involvement in his own son's life.
A 120-day status conference is set for May 16 between the two parties.