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Gary Coleman's Ex Violated His Will & Robbed His Parents of a Chance to Say Goodbye to Him

Laura Beatham
Oct 13, 2021
08:00 P.M.
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Gary Coleman's parents did not get an opportunity to say goodbye to their son, as his former wife, Shannon Price, decided to take him off life support before they could say goodbye.

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"Diff'rent Strokes" star Gary Coleman's parents, Willie and Sue Coleman, felt robbed of saying goodbye to their son, who they adopted at only four days old, as they were not informed of his condition.

THE ACCIDENT

Coleman suffered a brain hemorrhage after he fell in his Utah home on May 26, 2010. His ex-wife Price had been upstairs in the master bedroom when she heard the commotion and went to check on him.

LEFT: Gary Coleman pictured in "Diff'rent Strokes." RIGHT: Coleman and his parents, Sue and Willie Coleman pictured together. | Photo: Getty Images

LEFT: Gary Coleman pictured in "Diff'rent Strokes." RIGHT: Coleman and his parents, Sue and Willie Coleman pictured together. | Photo: Getty Images

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The 24-year-old explained to paramedics that she immediately called 911 after she found Coleman on the floor, bleeding profusely.

The former child star was rushed to a Provo, Utah hospital. The actor was taken off life support the next day after being conscious and lucid. Although his condition looked hopeful, it quickly worsened.

Then on May 28, 2010, Coleman passed away from a suspected brain hemorrhage, and Price told his doctors to take him off the life support machines.

Gary Coleman pictured at the 6th annual "TV Land Awards" held at Barker Hangar, 2008, Santa Monica, California. | Photo: Getty Images

Gary Coleman pictured at the 6th annual "TV Land Awards" held at Barker Hangar, 2008, Santa Monica, California. | Photo: Getty Images

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HIS PARENTS' FEELINGS

Despite the heartbreaking situation, Willie and Sue shared that they did not have any animosity towards Price and her decision, as the couple reasoned she was "young and inexperienced."

However, they did feel they were robbed of the opportunity to say their final goodbye to their son as Prince did not call them after his fatal fall or before he was taken off life support.

Furthermore, the Colemans told the Associated Press that they found out about his condition, hospitalization, and eventual death through the media.

Gary Coleman portraying his character Arnold Jackson on "Diff'rent Strokes." | Photo: Getty Images

Gary Coleman portraying his character Arnold Jackson on "Diff'rent Strokes." | Photo: Getty Images

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One thing they had hoped to do before his passing was to reconcile with their son. Their relationship became estranged after he turned 18 and sued them for mismanagement of his finances in 1989.

At the time, Coleman's trust fund, which he had accumulated since he started acting on "Diff'rent Strokes" as Arnold Jackson at ten years old, should have been worth up to $18 million.

However, when he wanted to use it at 17 years old, he found it was only $220,000. In response, Coleman pursued a judgment of $3.8 million, but in 1993 the lawsuit was settled for $1.3 million.

Gary Coleman at the LG's Mobile TV Party held at Paramount Studios, 2007, Los Angeles. | Photo: Getty Images

Gary Coleman at the LG's Mobile TV Party held at Paramount Studios, 2007, Los Angeles. | Photo: Getty Images

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Despite the family's tumultuous past, Willie and Sue assured the media that there was love between them before his passing. Coleman had even written a few loving letters to them throughout the years.

Willie told the media that he would re-read the letters from time to time, and Coleman would always end his messages with, "Hey, guys. I love you guys, and I know you love me too."

A CONFLICTING PAST

Although his parents might have been sure of Coleman's love, Coleman's costar, Todd Bridges, revealed that Coleman had wished to exclude his parents from his will, as he had done so for almost two decades.

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Todd Bridges at the Chiller Theater Expo Winter 2017, Parsippany, New Jersey. | Photo: Getty Images

Todd Bridges at the Chiller Theater Expo Winter 2017, Parsippany, New Jersey. | Photo: Getty Images

Bridges, who played Willis on the beloved sitcom, revealed Coleman's wishes after Sue and Willie sought to have custody over Coleman's remains so they could bury him in his native childhood home in Zion, Illinois.

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At the time, Bridges told Entertainment Tonight that he had no plans to go against Coleman's dying wishes and remarked that there was a reason why Coleman had not spoken to his parents in 23 years.

Due to their estrangement, it is no wonder that Price, who married Coleman in 2007, was signed as his medical agent in his "advanced medical directive" so, therefore, could make decisions regarding his health on his behalf.

Shannon Price and Gary Coleman pictured on "Today" in 2008. | Photo: Getty Images

Shannon Price and Gary Coleman pictured on "Today" in 2008. | Photo: Getty Images

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PRICE AS MEDICAL AGENT

After his death, Price came forward and explained why she made the hasty decision to remove Coleman from life support; she did not want him to end up like other people who have suffered devastating injuries.

Price made particular reference to Parkinson-stricken Muhammad Ali and late coma patient Terri Schiavo. In a TMZ video, Price remarked that doctors told her that his prognosis would not be good if he recovered from surgery.

She explained that doctors informed her that if he did have surgery to remove the damaged area of his brain, he would not have been the same, adding that he might end up Muhammad Ali.

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Shannon Price and her attorney Todd Bradford arriving at a court proceeding about the status of Coleman's body and estate, 2010, Provo, Utah. | Photo: Getty Images

Shannon Price and her attorney Todd Bradford arriving at a court proceeding about the status of Coleman's body and estate, 2010, Provo, Utah. | Photo: Getty Images

She also reasoned that he would have died sooner or later from his condition, so she decided to take him off life support sooner. She had thought of Schiavo's case when making the decision.

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Schiavo was a patient who had spent years in a coma. Her husband fought legal battles to get her off life support. Price did not want to same or a similar outcome to happen to Coleman.

Price emphasized that she did not want people to think that she did not care about the late Coleman and was hurt by the accusations that she had caused his hospitalization and wanted him dead.

Gary Coleman pictured at the TV Land Awards 2003 at the Hollywood Palladium, Hollywood, California. | Photo: Getty Images

Gary Coleman pictured at the TV Land Awards 2003 at the Hollywood Palladium, Hollywood, California. | Photo: Getty Images

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A DECISION AGAINST HIS WILL

Despite her reasoning, Price was met with criticism after her decision in 2010. Many believed she went against Coleman's living will, stating he should be kept alive unless he was in an irreversible coma for 15 days.

In his will, Coleman advised that he should be taken off life support if "my condition is incurable, terminal and expected to result in my death within 12 months."

Furthermore, he should be removed from life support if doctors diagnosed him with a coma for 15 days and found there was no reasonable possibility that he would regain consciousness.

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Gary Coleman pictured at The 55th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, Los Angeles, California. | Photo: Getty Images

Gary Coleman pictured at The 55th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, Los Angeles, California. | Photo: Getty Images

However, a spokesperson for the Utah Medical Association stated that a patient's family member's wishes had more weight than what is displayed in a living will.

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Mark Fotheringham explained to CNN that a living will could not trump a family member who wanted something different to be done than what was in the medical directive.

Although some outlets and onlookers were skeptical of Price's decision, Randy Kester, an attorney, told The Daily News, no one expected any wrongdoing; however, a question of the appropriateness of Price making the decision was raised.

Gary Coleman and his parents pictured at the 1982 National Kidney Foundation Awards Dinner, Beverly Hills, California. | Photo: Getty Images

Gary Coleman and his parents pictured at the 1982 National Kidney Foundation Awards Dinner, Beverly Hills, California. | Photo: Getty Images

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Coleman and Price secretly filed for divorce in 2008, citing "irreconcilable differences," however it seemed the couple was engaged in a romantic relationship at the time of his death as they were living together.

Furthermore, during battles of his estate, Coleman's estate was left to Price and a business associate named Anna Gray. Price filed documents that stated she was his common-law wife despite being divorced.

Coleman's legacy lives on in his famed "Diff'rent Strokes" character, and despite the troubles that came with his passing, there is no doubt his presence is continuous mourning by his loved ones, fans, and friends.

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