Defensive end Chidi Ahanotu #72 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks on during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Buccaneers 23-15. Mandatory Credit: Tom Hauck /Allsport
Copyright (c) 2009 HGTV and Scripps Howard News Service
TAMPA - Chidi Ahanotu had a ring in his pocket when he appeared before Judge Liz Rice in a Hillsborough County courtroom Wednesday morning - a ring his ex-wife's lawyers wanted to take as part of about $130,000 they say he owes them.
Ahanotu testified the NFL championship ring he brought was a replica, not the original.
Judge Rice ruled that the legal language asked for the original, so Ahanotu doesn't have to fork over the replica.
Attorney Matthew Thatcher is with the Solomon Law Group, which asked for the ring. Thatcher claims the 2001 St. Louis Rams NFC Championship ring is worth $10,000 to $20,000.
Thatcher asked Ahanotu if he had other sports memorabilia, but the former Bucs player said he didn't, "except some cleats and jock straps."
Outside the courthouse, Ahanotu said "When they asked for the original ring, which in the order it says 'The original ring that I got.' I don't have that. I can't produce something I don't have."
He showed us the ring, which he said was replicated because he didn't like the original yellow gold it came in. His version is white gold.
"Mr. Ahanotu just delayed the inevitable," Thatcher said.
When asked why they're going after Ahanotu for his ex-wife's legal fees, Thatcher replied "Because of family law matters, the court has pursuant to statute, the right and the ability to acquire the person who has assets' money to pay the legal fees of the spouse who doesn't have money. That way, a rich spouse can't take advantage of a poor spouse in legal proceedings."
No new court date was set, and Thatcher said he'll continue to seek Ahanotu's assets.
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