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Matt LeBlanc's Daughter Was Diagnosed with a Brain Disease at 11 Months — inside His Fatherhood

Odette Odendaal
Jan 31, 2021
10:50 A.M.
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"Friends" star Matt LeBlanc dropped out of the spotlight for several years to recharge and turn his attention to what became the "best" thing in his life.

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Best known as Joey Tribbiani on "Friends," Matt LeBlanc stepped out of the limelight back in 2006. The "Friends" spinoff had just flopped, while his personal life also got turned upside down.

LeBlanc and his ex-wife, Melissa McKnight, welcomed their daughter, Marina, almost a year before. Little did they know that her trouble balancing would lead to a devastating diagnosis that changed LeBlanc's life forever.

Matt LeBlanc arrives at a party for "Episodes" on August 15, 2017, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images.

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PERIOD OF EXILE

The actor spent five years in self-imposed exile dealing with the turmoil. A dwindling career, a broken marriage, and his daughter's diagnosed brain condition left LeBlanc emotionally drained, as he said at the time:

“For years and years, I barely left the house. I was burnt out. I wanted to not have a schedule, not be somewhere. I was in a position to do that."

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LEAVING THE SPOTLIGHT BEHIND

In 2005, LeBlanc groped a stripper in a nightclub while rumors already swirled about his infidelity. It proved a fatal blow to his marriage to the British model, but it was Marina's diagnosis at 11 months that got to him most.

Following Marina's cortical dysplasia diagnosis, LeBlanc went through a "very dark period." The condition affects the brain, bones, and motor skills, making tasks like walking and talking difficult.

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THE DIVORCE

McKnight and LeBlanc divorced in 2006 after three years of marriage. Their amicable split showed in negotiations, as LeBlanc went ahead without hiring a lawyer to handle the settlement.

After agreeing to joint custody, the court also ordered LeBlanc to financially support all of Marina's needs, including childcare, and education, with an additional monthly amount of $15,000 in child support.

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PARENTHOOD

With his life in turmoil, LeBlanc turned his attention to Marina. The pair started doing everything together, from making breakfast to horseback riding, and it had a healing effect on them both, as the actor added:

“Spending time with her is the best thing I’ve ever done. We have a great bond and it’s the best thing in my life.”

The digital world is very different from the age LeBlanc grew up in. While fatherhood brought out patience in the actor, he accepted being able to do only so much as a parent. Thankfully, Marina, outgrew the condition.

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STRANGER THAN FICTION

Matt LeBlanc, however, didn't outgrow his popularity as the beloved Joey Tribbiani on the long-running comedy series "Friends." Sometimes, his fame even once led to a strange invasion of privacy.

Joking that he needed a new roof, the actor shared that a live broadcast showed footage being shot from a helicopter hovering outside each "Friends" castmember's house.

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