Slade Smiley's Ex Slams 'RHOC' Alum for 'Neglect' and 'Inexcusable Behavior' After Son's Death

Michelle Arroyo shares a statement with PEOPLE, claiming Slade Smiley and Gretchen Rossi have "grossly misrepresented the true nature of their relationship with Grayson"

Michelle Arroyo is speaking from the heart about her late son, Grayson Arroyo-Smiley — and alleging that his connection with father Slade Smiley wasn't what it seemed.

In a statement to PEOPLE, Arroyo said "enough is enough" when it comes to the public grief of Smiley, 54, and fiancée Gretchen Rossi, whom she alleges had limited contact with Grayson before his death.

"I have stayed quiet year after year on the inexcusable behavior and neglect by his father and his fiancée out of respect for my son, who wanted nothing more in this world than a real relationship with his father," Arroyo said.

"Slade Smiley and Gretchen Rossi have grossly misrepresented the true nature of their relationship with Grayson, which was virtually nonexistent," Arroyo added. "I will not stand by and permit them to benefit from my son's death for who they were barely there when he was alive and needed his father."

In a separate statement to PEOPLE, a source close to Smiley and Rossi, 44, said: "It's unfortunate that the Smiley family is not being allowed to grieve at this incredibly difficult time due to the false accusations being made by Grayson's mother. Gretchen loves Slade and helped him build a touching tribute to his son and in turn has been attacked by Grayson's mother. It's a very sad situation."

Michelle Arroyo and Grayson, Slade Smiley (L) and Gretchen Rossi
Michelle Arroyo/Instagram; Amanda Edwards/Getty

Arroyo's statement slamming the couple comes after Rossi, an alum of The Real Housewives of Orange County, shared an emotional tribute to Grayson following the 22-year-old's death from brain cancer in February.

"We are beyond devastated and heartbroken over the loss of Gray," read the caption by Rossi, who called Grayson a "true beacon of light and hope."

The series of photos — and a follow-up Valentine's Day post — were not well-received by Arroyo, who told PEOPLE that Rossi and Smiley barely saw Grayson and all there have been eight contempt of court orders over the years.

"Gretchen has posted video after video, including on Valentine's Day, presenting a flagrantly false image of a loving stepmother to my child when the reality is she has not made the effort to nor seen him in over 10 years, which is why he is 12 years old in every picture she posts," Arroyo said in her statement.

"In the [10] years Gretchen has been engaged to Slade she has only seen Gray a handful of times, mostly in passing, including when Gray was hospitalized in New York and she insisted that Slade leave him and fly home with her, which he did, leaving me alone at a time after a surgery when we thought he would not survive."

Arroyo added the reason she's chosen to speak on the allegations now — instead of in years past. "To honor my son's memory, I now speak up for Gray and decry their false pretenses and self-serving tactics, as I refuse to allow them to use my son's death to capitalize off of a shameless PR campaign to bolster their public image and garner attention, which is how they have always used Grayson, for shameless self-promotion," she continued.

"Since 2008 he only visited occasionally, but often times being late, canceling last minute or simply not showing up at all with no warning, emotionally crushing Gray countless of times," Arroyo said of Smiley's alleged relationship with his son. "As Gray got older, he preferred not to see his father anymore and would express that he would rather avoid the ongoing disappointment and heartache from his unreliability."

Arroyo went on to claim that Smiley "abandoned his custodial visits in 2009 after violating court order after court order, not showing up to pick him up when he was his legal right in time to do so," adding, "My son was a burden to him, so much so that he voluntarily me [sic] to relinquished his legal rights, that no caring father ever would do."

In terms of child support, Smiley owes $152,655.27, according to a court order obtained by PEOPLE. "The last payment I received from Slade in child support was in August of 2019 for $36.19," Arroyo said. (PEOPLE confirmed this payment.)

The mother also told PEOPLE she's created a GoFundMe to help with costs for Grayson's memorial, as well as to pay his existing medical bills. She's currently raised $35,841 of a $75,000 goal, with donations from Rossi's former RHOC costar Tamra Judge and her Two Ts and a Pod co-host Teddi Mellencamp Arroyave.

"[Slade and Gretchen] can keep the money that rightfully belonged to my child, but they cannot shamefully capitalize on his sweet memory as I will no longer permit it, and in death I will be his voice," Arroyo said. "Enough is enough."

Grayson Smiley of CoachArt and his mom Michelle Arroyo attend the CoachArt Gala Of Champions at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 16, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California.
Joshua Blanchard/Getty

Rossi and Smiley have spoken publicly about their relationship with Grayson in the February 2023 cover story of StepMom magazine.

"Due to some of Grayson's health issues, I didn't get to see him as often as I would have liked to," Rossi told the publication, while appearing on the cover.

Smiley added: "My son Grayson, who is now 22, unfortunately has been very sick most of his life. He was diagnosed, at 5, with an incredibly rare form of brain cancer. He's had over 30 brain surgeries and sadly been in and out of the hospital most of his life. I feel like a lot of precious time with him has been stolen due to his condition. Time spent with him is almost always focused around dealing with his medical issues. It has been extremely hard to see him suffer like that."

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Elsewhere in the piece, Smiley spoke about his differences in parenting Grayson and other son Gavin, 33, compared to his and Rossi's 3-year-old daughter Skylar. In particular, he said he feels like he's been more "attentive" with Skylar than he was with Greyson and Gavin.

"I had Gavin when I was very young: only 21. To be honest, I think I was so busy trying to get my career started and take care of the family that I'm not sure if I was always as present as I would have liked to have been," he said, later adding, "The one thing I've done well is making Skylar my priority. I wish I'd been in a better position or more cognizant about giving that same amount of attention to Gavin and Grayson."

"Some days, guilt creeps up when I realize that I didn't have that same focus and clarity while raising my boys," he shared. "But I hope, ultimately, they know how much I truly do love them and that I did the very best I could under the circumstances at the time."

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