Gary Shirley Testifies in Amber Portwood’s Custody Case for Son James; Says She’s a “Different Person” Now: “I Am Very Proud of Her”

“I’ve got your back, Ambie!”

Gary Shirley recently took the stand– to stand up for his baby mama, Amber Portwood.

Amber— who is currently battling her second baby daddyAndrew Glennon, in a nasty custody battle for their three-year-old son James— was given two thumbs up as a mother by Gary, with whom he shares 13-year-old daughter Leah.

According to The Sun, Gary testified during Amber and Andrew’s custody hearing last month that Amber has transformed as a person (and a mother) from the person he dealt with years ago. He also stated that his ex is a devoted mother to James.

“Amber is a different person now than she was with me, and she is a different person than she was even a year and a half ago,” Gary told the court in March, according to The Sun.

As ‘Teen Mom’ fans know, Gary and Amber had a tumultuous relationship, consisting of multiple breakups, physical fights, arrests and more. However, according to Gary, he is proud of the person Amber is today at nearly 31 years old.

“I do notice more positive things. Actually, I am very proud of her. It’s a great responsibility that she has,” he said.

“Go ME!”

In a recent interview with The Ashley, Amber stated that James is very close to Leah, as well as Gary and his wife Kristina, whom he considers to be his aunt and uncle. On the stand, Gary confirmed this, revealing that Amber and James visit the Shirley home several times a month. Gary testified that Amber is a much better mother to James now than she was to Leah when she was that age.


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“It’s a different bond with James than she had with Leah,” Gary told the court. “Because when Leah was that age, she was in prison and some other things going on with her, and I think that the person she is today is not the person she was then.”

“There is no way I can testify from my Lazy Boy chair, right?”

‘Teen Mom OG’ fans saw that Leah had become estranged from Amber in recent years. (Amber recently told The Ashley that their relationship is much better now, though.) Gary stated that the estrangement may have been caused, in part, by Leah seeing Amber be an active parent to James. 

“I think that was a little hard for Leah. That was a hard thing for Leah, seeing how well [Amber and James] get along,” he said. “They cuddle, they’ve made cookies, they play with his toys. In the summer, they go play outside.”

Gary testified that he has never seen Amber lose her temper with the three-year-old.

“I’ve never seen her do anything to James that would concern me,” he said. “There’s nothing but love there.”

“…is what GarBear is saying!”

Gary also discussed a possible reason for the change he’s seeing in Amber, stating that she is now properly diagnosed and treating her mental health disorders.

“I think a lot of it was she learned how to handle her herself. I don’t think she was diagnosed properly for a long time,” Gary said. “I’m assuming there was a lot of trial and error to try to pinpoint the issue and taking the meds correctly.”

The Ashley previously reported, Andrew recently filed a motion to move home to California with James, allowing Amber only three visits a month with her son, all of which Andrew wants to take place in California. Amber continues to fight to prevent that from happening. Currently, Andrew and James are living in Amber’s Indiana home, while Amber rents a house nearby.

“And it AIN’T in California!”

Andrew is also asking Amber to pay him over $125,000 in back child support he says she owes him, as well as $20,000 in legal fees, in addition to weekly child support.

On the stand, Gary testified that, should Andrew be allowed to move James to California, it would damage the bond James has with his sister Leah.  

The next hearing in the case has yet to be set.

RELATED STORY: Amber Portwood Fights Back After Ex Andrew Glennon Tells Court He Plans to Move Their Son to California; Only Allowing the ‘Teen Mom OG’ Star Monthly Visits in California

(Photos: MTV; Instagram)

27 Responses

  1. MTV didn’t set up accounts for any children of any of the parents appearing on their shows. If MTV pays any of the children separately as compensation for the children appearing on any of their shows it is up to the parent what happens with the money. It depends on the laws of each individual state what the parents are required to do with the income of their working children, ie: are trusts required, at what age, until what age, when does the child get to control said trust, etc.

    If Amber set up a trust for Leah, it was probably done after a S.T.R.O.N.G. suggestion to do so by her lawyers and/or the state & she and/or Gary probably control it until Leah is a certain age. Unfortunately, the issue of children working in reality tv is still like living during Wild West times for most children. Most states still have no laws to protect children – not to protect their money, or the long hours many work, or whether they have to go to school, or if anyone is on set making sure they are protected, or that they’re even being paid at all (which many still are not).

  2. Gary is a good guy/bad guy. Don’t quite know how to gage him. A good father to Leah? Yes. Keeping her out of this crap? No. Keeps this drama in the public for cash money? Definitely.

    Ask most child actors if the money was worth it. They’ll tell you no. Leah has a trust with more than enough money to go to college, and MTV set that up. I fear he’s being greedy at this point and it’s time to end this for Leah.

    Give this poor child the peace in life she was constantly denied since birth.

  3. And yet, he is clearly very reluctant to let Amber have unsupervised time and overnight visits with Leah. I hope Andrew’s lawyer asked him why he doesn’t give Amber shared custody of Leah since he’s so convinced she is stable now. It’s fine for James, but not Leah?

  4. Honestly I’m not sure how Gary was even allowed to testify considering he’s a former victim I hope James & Andrew’s lawyer destroys him.. during cross examination we should ask how many times Leah visually saw her mother taking drugs and acting psychotic if he’s so she’s such a good mom why doesn’t Leah have overnight visits if Leah is that scared and uncomfortable how do the small child feel it’s disgusting that people make excuses for this worthless pyscho anymore.. attacking Gary and attempting to shove him down the stairs was a mistake chasing your new baby daddy with a machete through the house slamming it into the door while he’s holding your child is a pattern of behavior and we’ve all seen Amber has a true pattern of behavior whether that’s because she’s mentally psycho or not does it matter the point is there and someone needs to do something about it

    1. I really hoped that they did. And ask if he has an incentive to stay on Amber’s good side.

      Also, Amber comes from an abusive home. Her father was a raging alcoholic and died from cirrhosis of the liver and has talked about how physically abusive he was to her mom.

      I do wonder why Bubby isn’t being asked to testify. Like I don’t think he trusts his kids with Amber. I think his kids have even made fun of Amber for sleeping all day. But always defends her on social media.

  5. Poor James. Wait until he finds out how he was conceived. Mom got knocked up by a rando on a reality show and now Dad has primary custody and lives in sunny California while Mom lives in Indiana.

  6. Is this man delusional or what? A couple of months ago she was ranting about them and insulting his wife very publicly. How is she changed? She flew a rando from Belgium in the middle of a pandemic, putting men before her children as usual. Is he afraid of her? Is he doing it for Leah’s sake or what? I don’t get it

  7. Also, Amber knows someone is watching. She’s gotten better at hiding her shit, just like Leah.

    She hasn’t improved. She’s improved being sneaky.

  8. Look Andrew isn’t perfect, he’s not even halfway decent. But he was abused by Amber, and she almost killed Andrew and possibly James with the machete.

    But the fact that Gary a survivor of Amber’s domestic abuse is testifying is upsetting because he knows firsthand what it feels like to be attacked by Amber especially the child in the room when it happened. The reason Gary has full custody is that Amber attacked Gary in front of Leah.

    Gary is just towing the line because he is scared Amber will be a spiteful b*tch, like she normally, will cut her nose to spite your face and leave the show and there by ruin Gary’s income.

    Which is abuse in itself. She is using financial abuse to get Gary to do things. Like don’t piss off Amber or she will get Gary fired, or just quit.

    1. Also, if Gary was truly proud of her and thought she was a different person, if she’s that great, why can’t Leah and Amber spend time together without Gary or Kristina?

      Why has Gary not given Amber overnight visits, or visits unsupervised?

      Because he doesn’t trust her.

      1. I dont know- I tend to think its Leah asking not to do those things not so much that Gary’s not allowing it

        1. Amber was only in gel for 17 months. Leah was still really young when she got out. Also, Amber didn’t have to go to gel, she wasn’t sober and still refuse to get treatment and stay with her daughter. The judge gave her multiple chances. She always says I went to gel for Leah, but why couldn’t she get her sh*t together for Leah instead. Why couldn’t she stop sucking on fentanyl patches for Leah?

          Leah would have never realized her mom was gone if she picked back up after she got out. But she chose men over her daughter. Gary had full custody by then. And refuse to trust Amber with Leah.

          Gary didn’t allow Amber for years to have Leah. He didn’t trust her to get her to school on time, he didn’t trust her to make sure she did her homework. Gary has been full-time parenting Leah with Kristina since Leah was a toddler.

          Now Leah doesn’t really want to do anything with Amber, but why not before.


  9. This is absolute bs.

    This is purely Gary protecting his MTV income, not Amber.

    And, GarBear, Amber was a hair-whisker away from going BACK to gel for chasing the same child, James, in his father’s arms with a machete!!

    So hard to see Gary constantly protect Ambie like this to the detriment of Leah….I want the real MVP, Christina, to testify about how often Ambie ‘pops over’ to dump her other kid on them to babysit.

  10. Sounds like Amber’s time with James is mostly spent with his sister Leah, and “Uncle Gary”.

    I can just see Leah babysitting, I mean bonding with her brother while Amber rests her eyes.

    Gary must have a big comfy couch with Ambers ass print on it.

    EVERYONE involved has an agenda, and all are self serving. So sad.

  11. Gary will say anything to stay on show not to be on bad side of amber. Think gary needs to put leah first and get her off tv. Kids deserve semi normal life and privacy not being paycheck for parents

  12. Gary, if you need to be rescued, blink twice. Sorry,don’t believe him! I think she blackmailed him into this. It wasn’t too long ago they were brawling over Amber’s behavior.

  13. Gary is a great father. He wants the best for his daughter always. Andrew doing what he is trying to do to Amber is not good for Leah. End of story.

    1. Gary such great dad he would get leah off tv and quit letting amber use leah problems with amber for paycheck. Kids aren’t paychecks

  14. Gary is a piece of shit that is it in for the MTV money. I’m a fan of “My 600lb Life” and Gary isn’t quite there yet but I would love to see him in that show. Gary treats his wife like shit too.

  15. It’s crazy that he can still help her aver all of her statements against him. Two weeks from now she’ll be on a Insta live dragging him

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