Ex-NBA player loses custody of son
It was a bitter custody battle that lasted three years, but in the end Canada's top court decided that Theodore (Blue) Edwards' son would be better off with his mother.
In an unanimous decision, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the trial judge's ruling to award custody of Edwards' four-year-old son to his mother, Kimberly Van de Perre.
"It doesn't feel right for me to celebrate what just should have been all along," said Van de Perre of the battle for custody of her son, Elijah.
"He hasn't had a consistent home and he's had to really grow up," she said. "That's something no child should ever have to know about, let along understand."
Edwards will still have visitation rights to his son.
- FROM JUNE 14, 2001: Custody case involves race, top court told
Last year, the British Columbia Court of Appeal awarded custody to Edwards, a former basketball player with the Vancouver Grizzlies.
The Supreme Court of Canada said that the appeal court was wrong to interfere.
"This was an opportunity for the Supreme Court to state in very strong reasons that it's only in the narrowest circumstances that appeal courts should intervene in custody cases," Steven Mansfield, Van de Perre's lawyer, said.
"This means an end to an awful, awful aspect of (Elijah's) life."
Edwards and Van de Perre have been locked in a bitter, and public, custody battle since the child was 15 months old.
They met five years ago in a sports bar in Vancouver. He was a married father playing the guard position for the Grizzlies, while Van de Perre was a young beauty who had a special interest in sports athletes.
They engaged in an 18-month affair that produced Elijah.
Van de Perre won custody of Elijah during the initial 26-day trial, but that decision was overturned one year later as the British Court of Appeals decided to hand him over to Edwards and his wife, Valerie, citing a better family situation.
It was a controversial case, as the Canadian Supreme Court not only had to determine Elijah's best interests, but weed through a lot of issues, including the role of race, wealth and the benefits of the two-parent versus single-parent families.
Van de Perre, who is white, is a single high-school dropout who works part-time as a hotel receptionist and collects $3,500 a month in child support.
Edwards, on the other hand, is black and earned millions over 10 years playing professional basketball in the NBA.
One of the reasons why the appeal court decided to reverse the initial trial's decision was Edwards' stable family situation. Edwards' wife, Valerie, is described as the rock of the family and helps look after their twin daughters, now 11.
During arguments heard earlier this summer, Edwards argued that since society would see Elijah as black, not mixed race, he would be the best person to teach his son how to cope with the struggles in a predominantly white culture.
He also said that Van de Perre and her friends were demeaning of Edwards' African-American makeup.
The judgement on Friday gives a little more stability for Elijah, who was making a seven-hour flight between Van de Perre's home in Vancouver and Edwards' residence in Charlotte, N.C. every three weeks until he developed inner-ear problems due to the frequent flying.