Isiah Thomas’ Child Support Settlement Had a Long-Term Impact on His Bank Account

By virtue of being among the league’s top players, Detroit Pistons legend Isiah Thomas made plenty of money in his career.

Like so many of his contemporaries, including rival and Bulls star Scottie Pippen, Thomas ran into some financial problems along the way. In Thomas’ case, he ran into a child support case that dealt a major blow to his bank account.

Isiah Thomas had a child support scandal

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During the mid-1980s, Detroit Pistons star point guard Isiah Thomas was among the league’s best players regardless of position.

Thomas, a founding member of the “Bad Boys,” also found himself in legal drama at the time. According to the New York Post, a woman in Michigan named Jenni Dones filed a paternity suit against Thomas in December 1985.

Dones said that she gave birth to Thomas’ son, Marc, in May 1985. Thomas married his fiancee, Lynn Kendall, two months later.

Thomas and Kendall have remained together for nearly 30 years.

Thomas’s bank account took a hit from the situation

Detroit Pistons legend Isiah Thomas in 2000.
Detroit Pistons legend Isiah Thomas. | Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images

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In the summer of 1984, Isiah Thomas signed a 10-year, $12 million contract extension with the Detroit Pistons.

Such a large contract easily affects the money involved in child support cases or divorce proceedings. Take what happened to Thomas when Jenni Dones filed her paternity suit.

According to The Post, Thomas and Dones reached a settlement in 1987. Thomas paid Dones roughly $52,000 as part of the agreement and agreed to provide her with nearly $2,800 a month until Marc Dones turned 18.

Dones would receive a lump-sum payment of $100,000 upon turning 18.

When The Post shared their update in 2006, Thomas was the New York Knicks’ president of basketball operations. Thomas became the New York Knicks’ head coach later that year.

Dones reportedly filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in 2002 and later converted the filing to a Chapter 7 asset liquidation.

Thomas earned nearly $17 million from 1984 through 1994, according to Basketball-Reference.

Isiah Thomas isn’t the only athlete who had child support problems

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Isiah Thomas wasn’t the first sports figure to deal with child support, and he certainly won’t be the last.

According to USA Today, former Pacers star Kenny Williams received a nine-month prison sentence in 2013 for not paying child support. Williams was also ordered to pay more than $660,000 in compensation. 

NFL legend Terrell Owens filed paperwork in 2011 to have his child support lowered. One of Owens’ sons, Terique, later went on to play college football and is currently in the transfer portal after two seasons at Florida Atlantic University. 

Detroit Pistons star Blake Griffin shut down rumors in 2018 that he had to pay his ex-fiancee, Brynn Cameron, about $258,000 per month in child support. 

The Detroit Free Press shared a statement from the two. 

“Both sides have settled amicably and are moving forward with co-parenting their two children. Due to the confidential nature of the agreement, no further details will be released.”

Broadcasters aren’t safe, either. When CBS announcer Jim Nantz divorced his wife in 2009, a judge ordered he pay her nearly $1 million per year in alimony and child support.

All contract figures courtesy of Basketball-Reference.