Former welterweight boxing champ Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker's latest battle was a court fight to evict his mother from her house and he described his court victory as a "beautiful moment."
Once a celebrated millionaire boxer and 1985 Olympic gold medalist, Whitaker is now struggling to pay his bills and needed to sell the house which he gave to his mother nearly 30 years ago, according to his lawyer. His fall from grace and solvency involved numerous incidences of drug abuse and a history of arrests and run-ins with police. But Whitaker's final falling out with his family came to an ugly end in a Virginia court on Wednesday.
The court ruled that Whitaker's 73-year-old mother, Novella Whitaker, had to vacate the house by March 31.
Whitaker had been going head to head against the matriarch of his seven-child family since last fall when he began eviction proceedings after unsuccessfully trying to convince his mother to move, his lawyer, Bruce Gould told ABC News.
“It’s sad for him to have to take action against his mother, but none of the family would contribute to the real estate and he had no alternative but to use the court process,” Gould said.
Whitaker, 50, bought the two-story brick home near the Botanical Garden in Norfolk, Va., for his mother in 1984 when he was still flush from his many wins in the ring.
Since the glory days, Whitaker has been training young boxers, but work is slowly drying up, according to Gould.
“He’s limited to what he can make training other boxers,” Gould said. “It’s significantly diminished over the years and he’s not able to maintain this $400,000 house for his mother and siblings to live in.”
The house was always listed under Whitaker’s name and as there was no written lease or deed of gift, the son’s oral promise to his mother is not enforceable under Virginia law, Gould said.
On Wednesday, a Norfolk General District Court judge ruled in Whitaker’s favor, ordering Novella Whitaker and two other children and their families also living in the home to leave the house by March 31.
Whitaker now intends to sell the house to retain the $150,000 of equity in the home to recoup $18,000 in overdue taxes he paid on the building on behalf of his mother and two siblings living there, his lawyer said.
"He’s not happy that it was necessary to go to court," Gould said. “But he now has two mortgages on the house and the alternative was if he didn’t sell, it was going to go to foreclosure.”
But outside the courthouse on Wednesday, Whitaker appeared happy with court ruling to evict his mom. He said to ABC News affiliate WVEC-TV that it was “a beautiful moment.”
Novella Whitaker said she was heartbroken by the decision.
"I'm going to survive...I'm a survivor..I'm going with my daughter...she is taking me in," said Novella Whitaker told WVEC.
“He’ll be a son forever until death do us part, but he is putting a rip through the family,” said Whitaker’s eldest sister, Zelda Brown.
A grandson of Mrs. Whitaker, former NFL player Ronyell Whitaker, has also come forward to offer his assistance to his grandmother and make sure she is cared for.
ABC News' calls to a number listed for Pernell Whitaker went unanswered today.