Billy McKnight Discusses Custody of Son, Mindy McCready’s ‘Recovery’
Billy McKnight says his son Zander was never missing, despite reports by the media. The singer, songwriter and ex-boyfriend to Mindy McCready knew the 5-year-old was with McCready, and he knew she wouldn't harm him. That said, he's anxious to have the boy home again soon, and he's even more excited to be granted full custody.
During an interview with Taste of Country, McKnight -- founder of country group Soul Circus Cowboys, whose current single 'Lay It Down' can be heard here -- stressed over and over again that he's focused on remaining positive and that he only wants to help McCready get back on track. The two have had a "civil" relationship in recent years, and McKnight allowed her to have an extended Thanksgiving stay with Zander before she ran off with him. The episode comes as McKnight is preparing to take legal custody of their son, a move that he says is the result of hard work and sobriety.
"I've passed all the classes and taken random screens. I've been sober for three years," McKnight says. "There's a misconception that no one knows about me. I haven't used any drugs and that's why I have the life I have with my son, and we wanted to clear that up."
During a revealing interview, McKnight talked openly about his son, his relationship with McCready and her mother, and what he hopes for the future.
What is Zander like?
He's outgoing. He's fun. He's got a beautiful spirit. He's kind. He's organized for a 5-year-old. He likes to joke, he likes to play, he likes to sing. He's a great kid.
Does he like his parents' music?
He does. He knows the words to all of our songs. He sings them out loud, and he's not shy. When you first meet him he acts shy. Give him five minutes and then he just comes out of his shell.
Any idea what you'll get him for Christmas?
No, not yet. It's going to be something really special for what he's gone through, I'll tell you that.
Is he aware of what's going on?
I think about, because he was found in a closet and I think about a 5-year-old boy not being able to play hide-and-go-seek because of the trauma that would be if his own mother has got him in a closet and then he gets found and taken from her. That right there, I fear for his mentality there. That's just disturbing to think about. When he gets in front of me, I'm gonna talk about it. I don't want no surprises five years from now. We're gonna put it out there and get him through it day-by-day and just explain that both of us really love him but things are just a little sideways. And [I'll] just do the best I can to let him know he's safe and loved.
Is it possible that you'll be granted full custody soon?
Yeah, the attorney for the state and the case worker … they've already voted me to have full custody. The judge is extending it [the current custody agreement] 90 days to see if she could get on board and get her case plan wrapped up so he could get it out of the state's hands and into ours. Instead of complying, she did what she did which is going to set her back, probably a pretty good bit.
For me, it's all good. The next time we have a hearing it's most likely he'll be going to school an eighth of mile down from my house.
That would be some time in early 2012?
Yes. Probably in the first month of 2012. I live in Apollo Beach and he'll be with me.
In the meantime, he'll live with Mindy's parents?
Well, he's back and forth. He's with me four days and he's with them three. If I have to work or go out of town, he stays with them longer. I have a really good relationship with Gail -- that's Mindy's mom. We're doing the best we can for him to raise him right. But he knows both places, he feels safe at both places and he's a happy kid.
That was comforting to hear you do have a great relationship with them. So a lot of the things that we've heard of them and their care for Zander are untrue?
They are untrue. Gail is a wonderful human being. Why [Mindy] and her mother don't get along is disheartening. I don't know why. Gail reaches out to her. I've been there. I've known Mindy since she was 23-years-old. We've gone back and forth for 10 years before we finally stopped, and I've seen the whole thing and I don't want anything bad for Mindy, I'm just telling the truth.
Did you know that Mindy was expecting twins?
Yeah, she told me a few months ago that she was pregnant and she thought it was twins. We were being cordial and civil to each other up until this. I tried reaching out to her yesterday to say, "Look, obviously this has put both of us in the spotlight. Can't we be good parents and mature adults and work this out?" But she thinks that for some reason that I have gone against her and I am agreeing with the state. I'm just doing what they told me to do, and when things get into court, you have to abide. I'm not doing anything wrong to you. I want people to know that I am on her side to making a recovery. I'm not out to bash her or damn her in any way.
When you use the word "recovery," what do you mean?
I don't know her well enough anymore to know if she's using. I know that we did when we were together. I think mentally with what she's gone through, she needs some time with a doctor to find some healing … because she is doing things that are just bizarre.
Has there been a time in the past three or four years where you guys had a civil relationship?
Yeah, actually about two-and-a-half-years ago we, believe it or not, she came here and she stayed with me for a few months and we even released a song called 'Sweeter' that I wrote that me and her did -- a duet on with Lofton Creek Records -- and we were being cool. And it just didn't go. And sometimes we talk civilly, and it's a little yo-yoey. She changes her mind on the drop of a dime.
When Zander is with Mindy, are you concerned?
I've known Mindy [for 13 years]. I know a great person in her. I know a beautiful soul, and I know a part that's disturbed. I would like Mindy to get help because I don't want his brain, his little heart being fed negative, bad stuff when she goes off on that [pauses to search for the right word] ... personality. I don't even know how to describe it. I think she needs help, and it concerns me that he gets toyed with. I think she's a good person, still. And no matter how much bashing she's going to do on the upcoming interviews and on TV, you're not gonna get that back from me. Because I'm above that. I've put that crap behind me, and I hope that she gets on board with that for his sake because there's too much negativity there, and I don't like it for him.
Is she a good mother?
Well, I mean I can't really answer that because she lost him at 1-and-a-half and he's 5, and she hasn't done what it takes to get [him] back. Is there a good person in her? I think so. I was with her on and off for 10 years, so there's a love I will always have for her. But has she done what it takes to be a good mother? At this point, no.
Are you a good father?
I'm a great father.
Is there anything else that you want people to know about your relationship with either Zander or Mindy?
I want people to know that I'm on board with Mindy getting back on track, that I support her if she does the right thing and I'm not here to put her down.