In 1998, the tabloid newspaper The Globe reported that Malone had been a defendant in paternity lawsuits, filed shortly after Malone began his professional basketball career in the late 1980s, which alleged that he was the father of three children by two women from his hometown of Summerfield, Louisiana: Demetress Bell and twins Daryl and Cheryl Ford. In the aftermath of the Globe story, Malone met with the Ford twins for the first time since visiting them in the hospital after they were born. Malone did not meet with Bell at that time, and Malone’s attorney insisted that Malone had settled the lawsuits prior to any conclusive establishment of paternity, and thus still did not know whether he was truly the father of any of the children.
The Tribune confirmed that the judge in the Bell lawsuit ruled Malone to be the father, not based on presented evidence, but rather because Malone did not respond to the suit. However, the paper also examined court documents detailing the evidence that was to have been presented had Malone responded and a trial ensued. One of the items listed was a laboratory blood test which concluded with over 99 percent certainty that Bell’s father was either Malone or a brother of Malone. The paper also reported that applying that same blood sample to the Ford twins resulted in a similarly high probability of paternity by Malone. According to the Tribune, Malone challenged the court’s ruling with regard to Bell, claiming that the judgment holding him responsible for $125 per week in child support, plus past and future medical expenses, was excessive. Before Malone’s appeal was adjudicated, the lawsuit was settled on confidential terms. In the case regarding the Ford twins, Malone was ruled to be their father when he violated a court order by refusing to reveal his assets or submit to a DNA test. Thereafter, another out-of-court settlement was reached.
By the fall of 1998, Malone accepted his paternity of the Ford twins, and Kay Malone spoke publicly of the twins being members of the Malone family. Since that time, Karl Malone has maintained a relationship with the twins, each of whom later played college basketball at his alma mater of Louisiana Tech University. Cheryl Ford went on to a professional basketball career with the Detroit Shock of the Women’s National Basketball Association.
To date, Malone has made no public comment with regard to Bell, who is now an offensive lineman for the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League. In 2008, The Buffalo News reported that Bell’s first and only meeting with Malone came shortly after Bell graduated from high school. According to Bell, Malone told him at that time that it was “too late” for them to have a father-son relationship.