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Tuesday, September 28
LeFlore spends night in jail

Associated Press

DETROIT -- Former Detroit Tigers outfielder Ron LeFlore on Tuesday avoided 45 days in jail on charges he failed to make child support payments.

LeFlore was arrested Monday after Tiger Stadium's closing ceremonies on charges he failed to pay more than $50,000 in back child support to DeBorah Lewis of Detroit. He was ordered to pay $3,000 or go to jail.

"He evidently paid it or made arrangements for payment," a spokesman from the Wayne County Sheriffs Department said Tuesday.

LeFlore, 51, has been living in St. Petersburg, Fla. He returned to Michigan to take part in the events surrounding the last game at Tiger Stadium.

His adopted son and nephew, Gerald LeFlore, said his father has paid $300 a month in Florida for at least a year. Ron LeFlore also made lump sum payments after various court orders, but Judge Mary Beth Kelly ruled that LeFlore still owed Lewis about $52,000 to $56,000 for their daughter, LaRonda LeFlore, now 23.

LeFlore testified that his only source of income is a $20,000 major league pension. He also said that he has a wife and two other children to support, and he has problems with a hip and knee.

David J. Allen, the lawyer representing LeFlore on Tuesday, said the numbers still need to be reviewed.

"He recognizes that there's an arrears, whether it's that amount is questionable," he said.

Allen said LeFlore's attorney in Florida will examine the numbers.

Lewis said she was upset by the possibility he could be freed Tuesday.

"It's some crock again," she said. "This man makes money signing autographs. He'll pay the money, and he'll be gone again."

LeFlore family friend and former publicist Jack Taylor said he was "disgusted" by the ruling.

"This whole situation was created by a lack of communication and correlation of facts and figures," he said.

The court decision extends Lewis' fight to get money from her former common-law husband. The two have been apart since Thanksgiving 1977, Lewis said.

"I've been chasing him ever since he left Michigan," she said. "All I ask is, 'Take care of your kids.' "

LeFlore was considered one of baseball's best baserunners when he played with the Tigers from 1974-79.

Lewis said she called the Wayne County Sheriff's Department on Monday to tell them LeFlore would be attending Tiger Stadium's closing ceremonies.

He was named in a Wayne County Circuit Court bench warrant in 1993, Wayne County Sheriff Robert Ficano said.

Lewis works as a mechanical engineer. Her daughter has been working as a bank teller, but she said she wants to finish college. LaRonda LeFlore said she still has about $4,000 in loans to pay off.

"My mom raised me and sent me to private school by herself," LaRonda LeFlore said. "I feel he should've paid something. I feel a father should be willing to take care of his kids if he's willing to have them."

About six years ago, LaRonda LeFlore said, her father didn't recognize her when he walked into the Woolworth's where she was working.

"He didn't know who I was," she said. "I tapped him on the shoulder and told him my name. His eyes bugged open. He was surprised."

LaRonda LeFlore said she has a 1-year-old son whom her father has never seen.

Ron LeFlore's wife, Emily, also sat in the courtroom but declined to talk to reporters.

She, LeFlore's mother, and Gerald LeFlore were all present when LeFlore was arrested at the stadium Monday.

"My grandmother was really torn up," Gerald LeFlore said. "She was crying."

Before joining the Tigers in 1974, Ron LeFlore served time in prison for armed robbery. His story was the basis for a movie, "One In A Million" in 1978.

In 1973, then-Tigers manager Billy Martin heard about a young man playing on the ball team in the Southern Michigan Prison in Jackson. He went and watched him play a couple times and urged the Tigers to sign him. LeFlore went to Detroit Eastern High School, but didn't play ball before prison.

Once he was paroled, he signed with the Tigers and jumped from Class A to the major leagues in less than two seasons.

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