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Which is still operating? Jesse James business ventures and net worth

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Customized motorcycles were synonymous with the name Jesse James and his West Coast Choppers. His success in the hot rod industry was catapulted not only by his impeccable motorcycle-building skills, but with the popularity of his reality television series “Monster Garage.” Having a dysfunctional family growing up, it was quite incredible that he built an empire from the ground up. From motorcycle to custom weaponry, he had everything going for him, although it almost blew up due to a series of mistakes that he committed in his personal life. It led to a stint in a rehab center, with the paparazzi making him and his kids lives hellish for a time. When all was said and done, fans were curious to know if his personal notoriety affected his business ventures and his net worth.

The volatile upbringing of Jesse James

The life of Jesse Gregory James, the motorcycle builder, might not be as violent as his infamous namesake, the notorious 19th-century American outlaw of the Wild Wild West, but he didn’t have an easy time growing up, which is perhaps why he made those unfortunate decisions in life.

His childhood

He was born on 19 April 1969, in Lynwood, Los Angeles, California, to parents who split up after having an insane yelling battle when he was six years old, so at that age he had a difficult time especially, since he would go back and forth to each parent’s house. He never had a role model for a parent, because both displayed no interest in providing him with a great life. While he learned so much from his father, who was a welder and furniture maker, he was somehow terrified each time he would go back to his  house – some people said that his father was abusive, but the court granted custody to his father when the divorce was finalized. On some good days, his father would give him toys such as a dirt bike, which Jesse loved so much. He developed an interest in motorcycles early on, as his father’s antique store was located beside a motorcycle shop, and listening to Harley’s engines was music to his ears.

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He was a juvenile delinquent

Jesse became best of friends with a fellow teenager named Bobby as they shared the same purpose in life back then, which was stealing stuff from the local mall during weeknights. He was greatly influenced by his friend, who was best described as an enthusiastic thief and led him deeper into this dangerous and criminal activity. It started with candy bars, to gadgets and then they elevated their game to cars that they could chop and sell.

He even adapted to Bobby’s style of stealing, which was thru intimidation. For instance, he would just pick fruit in a supermarket, take a bite, and go out without paying. No one stopped him due to his hefty physique, but somebody eventually did and reported him to the authorities, so as a juvie, his rap sheet became quite long. Neither parent ever tried to keep a close eye on him, so Jesse was mostly left to his own devices, except when his father needed his help at work. Even during school days, his father insisted that his son pretended to be sick just so he would have an assistant. Jesse was eager to do that, because at that time, he wanted to gain his father’s approval.

Accused by his father of burning their house down

Growing up, he already lost count of how many ‘stepmothers’ his father brought home, and by the time his father took on another woman permanently, with young kids of her own, things became more difficult for Jesse. He had to place a bolt on his door when he discovered that someone stole money from his desk, and when he confronted his stepmother, she insisted that her children weren’t brought up to steal anything. A fire broke out when his father and new family were on a weekend vacation, and their house was burned to the ground. His father accused him of arson, which he denied because there was no reason for him to do that as he wouldn’t have any place to live in. It was the first time that he swore at his father out of frustration, and it led to a physical fight between the two – firemen had to separate him from his old man.

A promising football career ended even before it started

Jesse was gifted with a physique that fitted the sport of football, which was what saved him for a time when he was in high school. He was doing great, so that Division 1 schools were lining up with offers for him. However, he was arrested for a burglary committed by Bobby along with his cousin, Dave – it was ironic that it was one heist that he refused to participate in, because of his football duties. Apparently, when the stolen items were traced back to Bobby, he told the police that he was just holding the items for Jesse, and that they would find more of the stolen goods in Jesse’s home. Some of the items were indeed in Jesse’s room since Bobby asked that he hold on to them for him until he found a buyer. The reason for this betrayal was that Dave was already an adult and would be incarcerated, while Jesse was still a minor and would only end up in a juvenile detention center, where he only spent 90 days since his football coach spoke up for him in front of the judge. Offers from universities were withdrawn because of this, but it wasn’t the end of his football career. After matriculating from high school, he was given a football scholarship at a local community college. However, he suffered a major knee injury that ended his football career.

Jesse James’ Path to Success

With his kind of upbringing and misguided decisions in life, one would think Jesse would have given up and led the life of a felon, but he was relentless in his pursuit of becoming someone other than what was obviously laid out in front of him.

His early career as a welder and bodyguard

After having a huge fight once again with his father, he left and went to his mother, who welcomed him into her home – Jesse said that he would stay only until he found a place of his own. He immediately looked for a job, and found an ad looking for a welder with experience in Seattle. When the manager asked what kind of experience he had, he replied that his father was a welder and assisted him in his work. That secured him the job, which paid $1000 a week. He stayed there for a while and saved his money, while sending some to his mother until the weather in Seattle bothered him so much that he decided to return to California.

Someone recommended Jesse to a security team to guard a singer during performances. His build was perfect for bodyguard duties, and through hard work and the right attitude, he became known to the industry as someone very reliable, becoming a bodyguard to some popular rock and metal bands, especially during concert tours not only locally, but also globally. He was quite frugal and only spent money on his motorcycle-building research. Some band members were motorcycle enthusiasts too, and would have him fix up their bikes for them. However, during a stupid stunt, he injured himself, and so gave up being a bodyguard.

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Started working with installing brakes

Jesse began planning a career in customizing motorcycles. For almost a year before he resigned from bodyguard duties, he built his custom Harley straight–leg frame in his mom’s garage. He spared no expense, and took time in making it, so it came out rather better than he expected. When he rode it around, the bike caught the attention of bike enthusiasts, and it became his calling card. He went from one shop to another, and was eventually hired by Perry Sands, the owner of Performance Machine, the largest local Harley shop that made custom brakes. He perfected installing brakes, and on the side honed his motorcycle-building skills.

Hired by Boyd Coddington, a legend in the auto customization industry

Jesse’s skills soon reached Boyd Coddington’s ears, who wanted him to be part of his team. The biggest custom car builder in California was interested in Jesse, because he wanted to tap into the motorcycle market. Jesse accepted the offer, but was quite intimidated by Boyd’s team, who included experts in the field such as George Gould, Roy Plinkos, Steven Greninger and Chip Foose. At first, he couldn’t jive well with the other guys, as they were mostly in their 40s and he was half their age, but eventually they became good friends and Roy Plinkos became a mentor. He loved being there in the shop, as he became part of many great builds for a lot of high-profile personalities and celebrities. He only earned a fraction of what he was making as a bodyguard, but it didn’t matter since he loved his job, and knew that the experience he would gain there was priceless.

Jesse James became successful and popular

While working in Boyd Coddington’s shop, Jesse started making customized fenders for motorcycles. Eventually, he was making more money from it than he earned by working for Boyd, so resigned from his job to focus more on his own business. Some people thought it was an insane decision on his part, but he proved them all wrong.

Established West Coast Choppers

With his skills, he was confident he could make it on his own, but he didn’t want to compete with Boyd, so refrained from doing anything that had to do with car customization. He established his own business called West Coast Choppers, and his girlfriend then and future wife, Karla, helped him run the business. It was an uphill battle with no marketing team to help him, but if there was one thing he was sure of, it was that the quality of his work would lead to his success, saying ‘Ever since the 1950s, Harley had used great motors in their bikes, but their accessories were just short of shoddy.’ He knew that the bike company cut corners, and most of their manufacturing was done overseas. Only a few bike builders invested in producing quality components, so Jesse’s vision was to provide motorcycle enthusiasts with the best out there, no matter what the final cost might be, and he put his name on it along with the Maltese cross as the logo of his brand.

During his first bike convention, no one was shelling out money for his creation, but just as he was about to quit, someone noticed it, and he had his first business deal with the biggest motorcycle parts distributor in the world, Custom Chrome. Initially, the company thought they could haggle a cheap deal with him, but Jesse knew the quality of his work and rejected the initial offer, only agreeing when the offer was amended to his terms.

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Became a huge reality TV star with “Motorcycle Diaries” and “Monster Garage”

With his shop growing bigger and bigger, Jesse James was approached by Thom Beers, a producer from Discovery Channel who invited him to do a documentary about what he did for a living. He was reluctant at first, but then told himself ‘It couldn’t hurt to try.’ The filming was incredibly disastrous, as he wasn’t used to having a production crew following his every move inside the shop. Eventually, “Motorcycle Diaries” aired, and Jesse waited for national humiliation, as he felt that the whole thing would ruin his career. However, the exact opposite happened, because most gearheads loved his spontaneity and his motorcycle-building skills. Through the popularity of the docu-series, the price of each chopper from his shop increased, and no one raised an eyebrow when he sold special bikes for $100,000 apiece.

It was just the start of something even grander, because Discovery returned to him with an offer to headline his own reality TV series called “Monster Garage.” This time the concept came from him, and the cable channel agreed. It premiered in 2002 and lasted until 2006 with 80 episodes over five seasons. It was such a huge success with consistently high ratings, that it turned Jesse James into a huge reality TV star.

More business ventures and personal life

Jesse James became even more successful over the years, but his personal life suffered greatly. By 2022, he already had three children, and had tied the knot five times. The first four marriages ended in divorce mostly due to infidelity on his part except for the second, in which he ironically he was physically abused by his now ex-wife. His entrepreneurial spirit never died though, even if his personal life had gone awry. Here are some of his business investments over the years:

Cisco Burger

In July 2005, he tied the knot with America’s sweetheart, Sandra Bullock. After a year, he and Sandy co-owned a burger joint called Cisco Burger, also located near his shop in Long Beach. They served food without preservatives, and promised that everything in their restaurant was eco-friendly. However, Jesse couldn’t remain faithful, and by 2010, a scandal erupted with several women claiming that they had an affair with him. He eventually came out with a public apology, and his third marriage ended with a divorce – the burger restaurant closed down as well.

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Jesse James Firearms Unlimited

In November 2013, Jesse launched a custom firearm business, Jesse James Firearms Unlimited. His unique creations came with a very steep price; for instance, a gun named “Lady Liberty,” a Full Damascus Cisco 1911, sold for $85,000 each. In 2017, he only made three of those because it took around 500 hours of labor to make one. As per the official website, by 2023, there are variations of pistols and rifles that his company offers to the public, with the price of each dependent on the design and material used.

Austin Speed Shop

When he was still married to Sandra, he became a partner in another car customization shop, Austin Speed Shop. It started when he borrowed a workspace from the owners, and used it to film another reality TV show called “Jesse James: Outlaw Garage.” It didn’t flourish, and stopped after airing only four episodes. He helped in marketing the shop, but he was no longer involved in the daily operations, although still having investment ties with it.

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Jesse James’ net worth

By 2009, West Coast Choppers focused on selling motorcycles, apparel, and non-bike merchandise. He closed down the manufacturing parts department, claiming that he wanted to discourage those who produced replicas of his work. After the huge scandal that ended his marriage with Sandra Bullock, he decided to close West Coast Choppers located in Long Beach in October 2010, and everyone thought it was the end of his business, as at that time, he entered a rehab center to help himself deal with his personal problems. After three years, he opened a smaller version of his original shop, in Austin, Texas.

According to authoritative sources, Jesse James’ net worth varies. Some of them would list it at $100 million despite the closing of some of his business ventures, but others listed his net worth at $50 million, as he was just starting over again in Austin.

As the Managing Editor at The Legit, I direct a dynamic team dedicated to creating rich content that profiles the lives and accomplishments of influential figures. My commitment to detail and storytelling drives the production of biographies that truly engage our audience. I manage all aspects of the editorial process, from conducting thorough research to crafting vivid narratives, all while ensuring the accuracy and quality of our work. At The Legit, our goal is to offer our readers comprehensive profiles that provide deep insights into the realms of business, entertainment, and more. Through diligent research and engaging storytelling, we highlight the exceptional journeys and achievements of those who both inspire and intrigue us.

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The Rise and Fall of “American Hot Rod”: What Went Wrong?

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Boyd Coddington, the creative visionary who elevated hot rodding into an art form, was hailed by many as the “King of Hot Rods”, being largely credited for creating the hot rod craze on the West Coast, with many of his creations reaching legendary status. The Vern Luce Coupe put him on the map, and the CadZZilla was acclaimed as one of the most authentic and original car customizations in the world. He headlined “American Hot Rod” aired on Warner Bros. Discovery-owned TLC and Discovery Channel from 2004 to 2007, ending with his death in 2008.

A brief history of American hot rodding

A hot rod is usually referred to as an American car modified or rebuilt to improve its look and make it unique, as well as to optimize its speed and acceleration; its predecessors were said to be the modified cars used by bootleggers during the Prohibition era to evade the authorities. Hot rods made their first appearance sometime in the 1930s in Southern California, as car enthusiasts raced them on the Mojave Desert’s dry lake beds. Car clubs were formed, and the Southern California Timing Association was established in 1937 to bring them together and organize racing events.

America officially entered World War II in 1941, which put a halt to everything, as those young hot rodders joined the military, and gasoline was rationed. When the war ended, new cars were in short supply; however, the veterans put their mechanical and technical training to good use to modify old cars, and hot rodding became popular again. The Hot Rod Magazine was first published In 1948,, feeding the interest of gearheads and promoting hot rodding on a nationwide scale.

People street raced, which resulted in dangerous situations, sometimes with fatalities. This prompted the creation of the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) as a governing body for hot rodding, to create standards and rules for competitions. In 1963, the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) was formed to bring together original equipment manufacturers, aftermarket manufacturers, distributors, and media.

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Hot rodding as a hobby had waned in the 1960s, and muscle cars designed for high-performance driving and drag racing became the new trend; they were affordable and could outperform old hot rods. However, the 1973 Oil Crisis resulted in a shift of focus by car manufacturers, from performance to fuel efficiency, which caused the resurgence of hot rodding. The Chevy small-block engine became the most popular choice for hot rodders during that period.

In the 1970s, Boyd Coddington began to make a name for himself in building unique hot rods; his work was celebrated by the automotive industry and car enthusiasts from all over.

The Life of Boyd Coddington

Idaho native Boyd Leon Coddington was born on 28 August 1944, to Harold and Lorna Sparrow Coddington – his father was a dairy farmer who later became the owner of a landscaping company when the family moved to Salt Lake City. Even as a young child, Boyd was into cars and hot rods, devouring magazines about them whenever he could. He had an early start designing, constructing, and welding car parts, and got his first truck, a 1931 Chevrolet pickup, when he was still three years shy of legally driving it – it was said that he traded a shotgun to acquire it. Boyd studied to become a machinist at a technical trade school, and was an apprentice for three years at a machine shop.

To pursue his dreams, he moved to Southern California in 1968. He worked the graveyard shift at Disneyland in Anaheim as a machinist, and constructed hot rods during his free time in his home garage. As his skills in improving the look of a car became well-known, it also became his main source of income. He opened his auto shop in 1977 called Hot Rods by Boyd, and his unique style and cutting-edge skills drew people to his shop.

He and Diane Elkins, an industrial nurse, met on a blind date in January 1971, and three months later, they were married. They had two kids together, Christopher and Gregory. Boyd had a son from his first wife, Peggy King, whom he married in 1965 and divorced a few years later – he and Diane divorced in 1996.

He along with his second wife, Diane, and his kids relocated in 1978 to Orange Avenue at Buena Park where he put a 1,000-square-foot garage at the back of the house as his shop. Two months after they moved, he quit his job at Disneyland to focus on hot rod building.

The Billet Movement – Revolutionized the industry

Billet wheels are entirely designed and manufactured using a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) process, meaningt that a machine carved out the whole design and shape. There are plenty of configuration options available for customization, such as different lug nut and back spacing configurations, as well as one-off design patterns.

Master hot rodder John “Lil’ John” Buttera was Boyd’s friend and mentor; they worked together to make custom-fabricated alloy wheels known as billet. When they couldn’t find or buy a part they wanted for their creations, they made one from aluminum. Boyd credited Lil’ John for inventing the billet wheel, machining the first set of wheels and billet parts, but the former took it to another level. He manufactured and marketed billet wheels when he established Boyd Wheels Inc.

The two collaborated often, as Lil’ John did chassis design and machine work on some of Boyd’s early cars. Later on, they were engaged in a one-upmanship game – when Lil’ John built the 1927 Model T Ford sedan, Boyd followed suit and constructed a 1926 T. Lil’ John’s 1929 Ford Model A roadster inspired Boyd to make the “Silver Bullet,” described by Street Rodder Magazine as a ‘striking blend of traditional styling, contemporary rodding and innovation.’

The Vern Luce Coupe – Defined an era of hot rodding

Boyd’s then-wife, Diane, described Vern Luce as a very quiet and unassuming guy, who loved cars and often hung around the shop. One of his sons, Chris, remembered him as the “candy man,” who brought treats whenever he visited, as he owned a candy company. No one would have guessed that the transformation of his 1933 Ford Coupe by Boyd’s crew would create a huge impact that was said to have changed the landscape of hot rodding, with its sleek styling and smooth look.

It set the stage for what would be known as the ‘Boyd Look” in which everything was shaved with no door handles and hinges. The Vern Luce Coupe bagged the Al Slonaker Award in 1981 at the Oakland Roadster Show for its technical excellence. Thom Taylor, a graduating student from Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design at that time, made the design, but it took a team of talented individuals to actually make it happen.

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CadZZilla – A one-of-a-kind car

One of the most iconic auto customizations ever constructed by Boyd was the CadZZilla, commissioned by ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons in 1989. It was designed by one of Cadillac’s head designers, Larry Erickson, and built by metal artisan, Craig Naff. The 1948 Cadillac Sedanette was initially going to be a ‘simple’ customization project but it didn’t quite fit the unique style of the rock band’s guitarist and main vocalist, so further changes were made to the design to make it more revolutionary; Craig then set to work on it. The car featured ‘a chopped roofline, fully welded front clip with a sectioned hood and front fender combination that tilts open in one fell swoop,’ along with ‘Frenched headlights and custom tapering along the sides of the car that flows effortlessly into the lowered and fully blended rear quarters.’

Filed for bankruptcy

Boyd’s businesses had grown so big and successful that they went public in 1995 in an Initial Public Offering on the NASDAQ. However, Boyd filed for personal bankruptcy in 2001, as he lacked the means to pay off debts amounting to $529,000, having listed only $8,800 in assets. The debts were incurred by Hot Rods by Boyd and Boyds Wheels, which went bankrupt three years prior. Although Boyd Wheels reportedly had nearly $30 million in annual sales, it ran out of cash, and its credit line was frozen. Apparently, it ramped up production just when the market dwindled for high-end custom wheels, and its assets were liquidated. Creditors filed a lawsuit against Boyd as they claimed that he used company assets for personal gain, which he denied.

The lawyer for the unsecured creditors was surprised by Boyd’s move, and was suspicious of Boyd Coddington Wheels and Boyd Coddington Garage, the two companies that his son, Boyd Coddington Jr., established. His son said that his father’s financial and legal troubles would not affect these new businesses in any way, shape, or form, as it appeared that Boyd had no stake in them, and only drew a nominal salary.

However, there was some legal dispute over the use of his name in the new ventures. The Automotive Performance Group, which gained control of his previous businesses, sued them for trademark infringement, which was later settled when Body agreed to use his full name instead.

Starting over

Many were surprised when Boyd was seen attending the Street Ride Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky, after his businesses collapsed and his reputation was ruined. Unlike in the past when he had his whole entourage with him, and his trademark hot rods were put on display, this time around, he only brought a small card table on which aluminum car wheels were all laid out. Someone approached him and asked how he could go on, and if he was embarrassed by what happened. Boyd simply told him, ‘A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.’ and said that he had no intention of quitting.

According to reports, he sold some of his real estate holdings for $1.5 million and his Ferrari for $150,000 to have funds for his new ventures, saying that he wanted to prove that he could still do it. Naturally he encountered obstacles, as some were skeptical about how the new company would fare. While mentioning his name was met with derision, especially from some automotive insiders, it seemed that there were people who still believed in him, or at least his designs. The sales from Boyd Coddington Wheels business had picked up, as it benefited from the resurgence of demand for custom wheels. As for Boyd Coddington Garage, it was fully operational too, and had sold vehicles worth $100,000 to $450,000. By all appearances, it seemed that he was right when he claimed that he was back in the game.

Lil’ John once said that one of the reasons for Boyd’s downfall was that he believed in his own press, that anything with his name on it would sell. However, Boyd claimed that he’d learned from his past mistakes. He said, ‘I learned about the American dream and then about the American nightmare. I’m trying to build the American dream again.’

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Chip Foose and Jesse James began their careers at Boyd’s shop

His auto shop might have had a high turnover rate, but no one could dispute the fact that the hot rods that he built were exceptional. It was said that this was largely due to his team. Boyd had a keen eye for talent, and he made sure that he employed the best in their field. Most notable personalities that worked at his shop included Jesse James of “Monster Garage” and Chip Foose of “Overhaulin’”, long before they gained fame from their own automotive-related reality TV shows.

From what fans could glean from an interview with Chip, in the past it seemed that there was friction between the two guys and that it had something to do with whether Chip was given proper credit for his designs that came out of Boyd’s shop in the 1990s. It was also reported that there were properties that Chip believed to be his that were affected when one of Boyd’s companies went bankrupt. When Boyd died, Chip released a statement that read, ‘I appreciate all of the opportunities Boyd offered me while I worked with him and I owe a large part of my career and success to the great working relationship we had.’ He said that Boyd, who was like a second father to him, allowed all his employees the freedom to create, design and fabricate the best in custom vehicles.

Jesse who had his start at Boyd’s shop had said, ‘He just had the eye for cleanliness and design. The cars that came out of that original hot rod shop were amazing examples of graceful craftsmanship.’

“American Hot Rod”

Boyd’s creativity and personality seemed perfect for a reality television show. The bearded and bespectacled hot rodder was easily recognizable as he regularly donned Hawaiian shirts. He came across as loud, sharp-tongued, and cantankerous, so there was a lot of tension and drama at the shop, especially when deadlines were fast approaching. However, those who knew him and had been in his shop for years said that they had never seen Boyd work like that.

“American Hot Rod” premiered in 2004, and it followed Boyd and his crew as they constructed hot rods and custom cars at his shop in La Habra, California. The creation of one custom car was chronicled in three to four episodes, with each episode lasting an hour.

It ran for five seasons, and some of the work his team had done included the hand-made roadster nicknamed the Alumatub, the classic 1942 Woodie, the 1961 Chevy Impala Bubbletop, and an Elvis tribute car.

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Convicted for fraud

In 2005, the State of California accused Boyd of fraud for allegedly passing off his custom-fabricated cars as ‘antique cars’ or older than they actually were in the titles submitted to the Department of Motor Vehicles; this was reportedly done to avoid tax obligations and emissions control regulations. Boyd pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge before the Sacramento County Superior Court, and was ordered to perform 160 hours of community service and pay a $3,000 fine.

His death at age 63

It was announced on 27 February 2008, that Boyd died at the Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital in Whittier due to complications following surgery for a perforated colon, and kidney complications along with sepsis. He was a long-time diabetic, and had been admitted to hospital on 31 December 2007. Shortly after New Year’s Eve, he was released only to undergo surgery a few days later. He was survived by his third wife, Jo McGee, whom he married in 2002, and five children from three marriages.

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His legacy

Boyd Coddington changed the world of hot rodding. What set him apart from other hot rodders was that he designed and manufactured almost every part of the vehicle he constructed – his work set the standards for custom car design. He bagged the highly coveted America’s Most Beautiful Roadster Award six times, which was unprecedented, won the Daimler-Chrysler Design Excellence Award twice, and in 1988, he was Hot Rod magazine’s “Man of the Year,” and the 1933 Ford Coupe that he built landed on the cover of the Smithsonian Magazine.

Boyd was inducted into the National Rod & Custom Museum Hall of Fame, Grand National Roadster Show Hall of Fame, Route 66 Hall of Fame, and SEMA Hall of Fame.

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The Saddest Stories Ever Featured in Paternity Court

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About “Paternity Court”

“Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court”, which ran from 2013 to 2020, was a non-traditional court show starring Lauren Lake, a respected family lawyer and legal analyst. The series was a 79th & York Entertainment and Orion Television production, and received a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Legal/Courtroom Program in 20019. Unfortunately, MGM was forced to discard all courtroom programs due to financial struggles in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and changes in ownership of the network.

With court programming being the second highest-rated genre on daytime television as of 2012, the inception of “Paternity Court” was also helped by the success of “Maury”. Nevertheless, there was a marked difference between the two shows, as “Maury” was more focused on drama and shenanigans, whereas “Paternity Court” worked towards using the test results as a way for the participants in the show to build healthy and long-lasting relationships. Ultimately, the goal of the program was to reinvigorate the court show genre by reaching the widest possible audience.

The format of each episode sees Lauren Lake speak to the show’s litigants and decide cases based on the results of DNA tests. Probate disputes over wills were also an integral part of the show; in early 2013, the show’s creator, David Armour, shared more of what happened on set – “We don’t take any of this lightly. There is a responsible side to the show where we help families get on the right path,” he shared. “We want to dig into these stories much deeper than any other court show does. We’re dealing with resolutions about how families can move forward now that they have results.”

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Before and after the results, Lauren would take time to speak with her litigants. Most episodes of “Paternity Court” only focused on one case, unlike other present-day court shows which focus on two. However, it’s unclear just how involved MGM or the production team were with each family when filming wrapped up.

The doomed court series spawned two sister shows: “Personal Injury Court”, which was hosted by Gino Brogdon, and “Couples Court with the Cutlers”, which was hosted by Keith and Dana Cutler and used testing and evidence to prove – or disprove – infidelity. Sadly, all three shows were cancelled after ending production due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Saddest Moments

“Paternity Court” regaled its viewers with truly heart-breaking moments over the years, such as the episode in which Donna Andrews asked for a paternity test to prove that the man who had raised her was her biological father. Donna, who had gone out to dine with some friends in Atlanta one fateful evening, was shocked when a man approached her out of the blue and showed her a tattoo of her name on his leg. Obviously, this caused her to doubt everything about her childhood and the man she believed to be her biological father.

William Glenn, who claimed to be Donna’s biological father, said that he’d kept it a secret for thirty years because Donna had been raised in a loving household and he didn’t want to turn her life upside-down. Roger Andrews, the man who raised Donna, was deceased, as well as Donna’s biological mother. The plot thickens, as it turns out that Donna was aware of William’s existence due to him being the father of one of her younger sisters.

Although Roger and Donna didn’t actually live together, perhaps due to him being separated from Donna’s mother, he did everything a supportive father does, and was even present during Donna’s high school graduation ceremony. When Roger passed away on the due date of Donna’s second child, she was understandably traumatized; when she was approached by William at the restaurant that fateful night, she was still mourning Roger’s death, but made it clear that she wasn’t looking for a replacement by taking the case to “Paternity Court”.

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Telling his side of the story, William shared that he and Donna’s mother began dating in 1976 and that Donna was born when William “left” for eight months. When William asked Donna’s mother about her pregnancy, she didn’t give him any clear answers or indicate that he could be the biological father.

Before the restaurant incident, other odd things happened to Donna that made her doubt Roger being her real father. While on a plane, she was somehow seated next to someone who claimed to know who her biological father was. When this person gave Donna a description, she was confused because it didn’t match Roger at all. Then, a few months after Roger died, one of Donna’s cousins confessed that she wasn’t really his daughter.

“You waited until my mother passed away. We don’t have nobody’s word but your word now,” Donna reproached William. When the DNA results revealed that William was indeed Donna’s biological father, she was blown away, and broke down in tears. Donna, who had brought a framed picture of Roger with her to the courtroom, also showed William the photo and doubled down on her stance: she considered Roger her father, not him.

The next case we’ll be discussing is equally depressing. Siblings Hector Hunt and Precious Raysor decided to sue their parents for a paternity test after a huge argument in which it was revealed that the man that they believed to be their father, Richard Jacobs, wasn’t after all. Despite being the only father figure in the siblings’ life, Richard allegedly revealed that the siblings weren’t his biological children while arguing with his wife. However, Richard claimed that he only said that in the heat of the moment, due to a hurtful comment his wife, Daisy Hammonds, had made.

“This is the only man I’ve known for all my life,” an emotional Precious berated her mother. “He’s been there for my kindergarten graduation, my sixth-grade graduation, how many men do you know sit in the delivery room with their daughter while they’re having a baby?” When Precious’s mother confessed that she didn’t really know who their father was, Precious exploded, as she had planned on Richard walking her down the aisle at her wedding, which would take place a few months after the episode.

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As it happens, for years there had been rumors in the neighborhood of a man named Tommy Farmer being Precious and Hector’s biological father. When Tommy was shown on the screen for a videocall, Precious was so incredulous that she walked out of the courtroom. Daisy confessed to having had a sexual relationship with Tommy around the time of her pregnancy with Precious, and refused to look her children in the eye, which made her appear guilty.

When it was revealed that Richard wasn’t Precious or Hector’s biological father, he and the siblings broke down in court. Tearful hugs were shared between the three and Daisy also appeared visibly devastated. The episode ended on an even worse note, when Daisy shared that she wasn’t Hector’s biological mother, but rather a woman that had died shortly after childbirth was.

For the first 33 years of her life, Jazmine St. James was a daddy’s girl and was even walked down the aisle by the man she believed to be her father, Kenneth Esaw. However, six months before appearing in the show, Kenneth revealed during an argument that she wasn’t his biological daughter. Stunned, Jazmine and her brother opened a paternity case to get the answers they needed.

Kenneth always believed that he wasn’t Jazmine’s biological father but never found the right moment to tell her the truth. Apparently, he agreed to take a paternity test so that the truth could set him free, as the secret had been haunting him for over three decades. The argument between Jazmine and Kenneth started when Jazmine confronted her father as to why he wasn’t more present in his grandchildren’s lives.

After discovering the truth, Jazmine began suffering from depression and anxiety. “I feel like I’m going to die of heartbreak,” she confessed tearfully, sharing that she hadn’t been eating or sleeping since Kenneth dropped the bombshell.

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Kenneth then shared that, shortly after getting into a relationship with Jazmine’s mother, they learned she was pregnant. However, when they went to the doctor, they realized that he couldn’t be the father because she was too far along. Kenneth’s mother was also present in the courtroom and corroborated his version of events.

When the DNA results proved that Kenneth wasn’t Jazmine’s biological father, he looked somewhat relieved, whereas she looked completely heartbroken. Even so, she thanked Kenneth for raising her as his daughter.

We can all agree that, although “Paternity Court” was never picked up by another network following its cancellation, Lauren Lake and the production team did a great job at sharing these people’s stories, and helping some families find the closure they needed to move on in their lives.

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Michael Ilesanmi’s Toxic Relationship With Angela Deem

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Michael Ilesanmi

Viewers of the “90 Day Fiancé” franchise are more than familiar with Michael Ilesanmi, who has been in a turbulent relationship with wife Angela Deem since 2018. Michael became a fan favorite in the second season of “90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days” due to Angela being such a controversial character in the show; the blonde, who is in her late 50s, doesn’t let Michael work or have social media accounts and has made it clear on many occasions that she doesn’t trust him.

With that said, Michael hasn’t done much to build that trust either. Things were going well at the beginning of the relationship, when the couple connected on social media in 2018 – so well, in fact, that Angela soon flew out to Michael’s home country of Nigeria to visit him. The glaring age gap and cultural differences between the two soon became evident. At the time, Angela was 52 years old and already had grandchildren, whereas Michael was two decades younger.

Angela’s daughter and friends began voicing their concerns, and when the interracial couple began having disagreements in Nigeria, she wondered if her younger boyfriend was secretly embarrassed to be seen with her. At the beginning of the relationship, Michael also admitted that he had cheated on Angela by engaging in sexual acts with a local woman. Since then, the tenuous trust between the couple was broken.

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Angela’s first trip to Nigeria ended with Michael handing her an engagement ring wrapped in an American flag. Almost as soon as she returned to the US, the TV personality accused her Nigerian lover of draining her bank account, and proceeded to scream at him over the phone, which many viewers considered verbal abuse. Angela had given Michael her debit card for him to make a $300 withdrawal, but somehow he took out three times as much – allegedly by mistake.

In the third season of “Before the 90 Days”, the duo was reunited and waiting for him to obtain his K-1 visa. After yet another onscreen argument, Michael tried to apologize to Angela for cheating on her by giving her a cake… Which Angela promptly threw at his face. The relationship became even more chaotic when the couple discovered that there were little to no chances of Angela getting pregnant; when she asked her daughter, Skyla, to act as a surrogate, Skyla was outraged and refused.

Unfortunately for Michael, his visa was denied, which Angela discovered when she returned to the US during the seventh season of “90 Day Fiancé”. Even so, the couple tried to put aside their cultural differences and work on their trust issues, before celebrating their grandiose Nigerian wedding in season five of “90 Day Fiancé: Happily Ever After?”.

Days after the nuptials, which took place at the beginning of 2020, Angela had to unexpectedly return home due to the death of her ailing mother. The newlyweds were put to the test yet again when coronavirus-related travel restrictions were implemented before Angela could fly back to Nigeria, with both parties struggling to keep the flame alive.

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While Angela waited for Michael’s spousal visa to come through, she put her baby search on the backburner and began dieting and exercising instead. However, her husband was vehemently against the idea of Angela slimming down or having a breast reduction. When Angela flirted with the doctor responsible for her weight loss surgery, Michael – who, by now, had become a minor celebrity thanks to his affable personality and hilarious on-screen moments – felt hurt and insecure. All this helped Angela become the villain of the relationship, despite Michael having cheated on her.

While healing from her surgeries, Angela tried to remotely track Michael’s activity and location via his phone, after he’d stopped communicating with her. This led to another explosive row that left the couple on the verge of a split; nevertheless, they gave things another go at the request of Tracey, Angela’s psychic.

In an attempt to win Michael back, Angela went under the knife for new breast implants, as her chest was his favorite feature of hers. During the season six Tell-All episode of “Happily Ever After?”, Angela began arguing with Michael’s aunt, Lydia, when the latter judged her for undergoing weight loss surgery instead of trying for a baby. Angela was so incandescent with rage that she flashed her breasts at the cameras; she also argued with Michael for taking his aunt’s side during the heated verbal argument.

The on-screen spat spiraled out of control and ended with Angela announcing that she would be acting single and flaunting her new, slimmer body until Michael could come to the US. During her “90 Day Fiancé” spin-off, the American met up with a former love interest, and was also seen destroying Michael’s car during a visit to Nigeria, which caused him to break up from her.

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As things between Angela and Michael are so volatile, we just don’t know if the couple have broken up for good, or are planning to get back together. However, we can tell you more about Angela’s former flame, a handsome Canadian named Billy Sotiropoulos who also happens to be one of her close friends. Angela flew over to Canada to support Billy at his fundraising event, and was warmly welcomed when she touched down in Toronto.

Not everyone was pleased with Angela visiting Billy, with many followers of the couple reminding her that she would go crazy if Michael did the same. Anyone who keeps up with Angela and Michael’s exhausting marriage knows that the blonde has forbidden him from having female friends; meanwhile, she has no intentions of toning down her controversial online content, such as her provocative dancing videos.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CnxCzjSSA2V/

In any case, it appears that Michael is now in the States after finally getting his green card. There have been rumors of Michael planning to leave Angela to be with his anonymous 30-year-old American girlfriend, with whom he allegedly cheated on his wife. These rumors have led to people thinking that Michael was only playing a waiting game with Angela, until he could obtain American citizenship. Nevertheless, only time will tell if the warring couple make things work or go their separate ways for good.

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