BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 11: Slade Smiley (L) and Gretchen Rossi attend WE tv celebrates the return of "Love After Lockup" with panel, "Real Love: Relationship Reality TV's Past, Present & Future," at The Paley Center for Media on December 11, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for WE tv)

Michelle Arroyo Slams RHOC Alums Gretchen Rossi And Slade Smiley For “Neglect” And “Inexcusable Behavior” After Son’s Death

Nothing to lose. After the tragic death of Grayson Arroyo-Smiley, his mother, Michelle Arroyo, took to social media to share the truth about her son’s relationship with Real Housewives of Orange County alum Slade Smiley.

Michelle unburdened herself after Slade and her fiancée, Gretchen Rossi, mourned very publicly after Grayson’s tragic death. In a statement to People, she said, “enough is enough” with the supposed front the RHOC couple has portrayed. The reality Michelle speaks of is a much different picture.

Michelle alleges neither Slade nor Gretchen had any significant contact with Grayson. But Grayson did crave a relationship with his father. His mother chose to live in dignified silence until his passing.

“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,” Michelle explained.

Michelle accused the couple of capitalizing on Grayson’s death. She said, “Slade Smiley and Gretchen Rossi have grossly misrepresented the true nature of their relationship with Grayson, which was virtually nonexistent. 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.”

Slade and Gretchen responded through a “source” to defend themselves. The insider told People in a statement, “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.”

How did the couple choose to publicly mourn Slade’s son? Gretchen posted a tribute to a “true beacon of light and hope” on social media after his passing. “We are beyond devastated and heartbroken over the loss of Gray,” she wrote.

Another tribute to Grayson was posted on Valentine’s Day. Michelle responded, “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.”

Michelle recalled a moment when Grayson’s prognosis was critical. Neither Slade nor his fiancée chose to be by his bedside. “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,” she revealed.

RELATED: What Are These Three Former Housewives Doing Now?

With no worry of tarnishing Grayson and Slade’s relationship, Michelle spoke her truth. “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.”

Michelle adds Slade was inconsistent and inconsiderate towards his son. She revealed, “Since 2008 he only visited occasionally, but oftentimes being late, canceling last minute or simply not showing up at all with no warning, emotionally crushing Gray countless of times.” She continued, “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.”

Slade’s parental decisions earned him eight contempt of court orders since they began legal disputes. Apparently Slade, “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.” Michelle continued, “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.”

People obtained legal papers which reveal $152,665.27 is owed in child support. Michelle admitted, “the last payment I received from Slade in child support was in August of 2019 for $36.19.”

A GoFundMe was created to assist Grayson’s outstanding medical bills as well as a memorial in his honor. Michelle set a goal of $75,000 and currently raised $41,460. Gretchen’s former RHOC nemesis Tamra Judge donated to the fund. Teddi Mellencamp Arroyave, Tamra’s Two Ts and a Pod co-host, also contributed.

“[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,” Michelle concluded. “Enough is enough.”

As if proving Michelle’s point, Gretchen and Slade provided an interview with Stepmom magazine in February 2023. The same month Grayson passed away. “Due to some of Grayson’s health issues, I didn’t get to see him as often as I would have liked to,” Gretchen explained.

Slade said, “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,” he added.

Slade, who shares daughter Skylar with Gretchen, spoke of his “attentive” parenting to Sklyar compared to Grayson and Gavin [Smiley]. “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.”

Slade continued, “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. 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,” Slade stated.

Whatever the truth is, Grayson’s death is very tragic. Sympathies must be sent to all those grieving his passing.


[Photo Credit: Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for WE tv]