The family of the 9-year-old Kansas City Chiefs fan accused by Deadspin of wearing “blackface” filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the outlet — claiming it defamed and caused irreversible damage to the young football fan.
Holden Armenta’s parents, Shannon and Raul, alleged that Deadspin intentionally published a defamatory article, exposing “the family to a barrage of hate, including death threats.”
“The Article falsely alleged that [Holden] had ‘found a way to hate Black people and the Native Americans at the same time.’ It alleged that [Holden]’s parents, Shannon and Raul, ‘taught’ [Holden] ‘racism and hate’ at home,” the lawsuit, filed in Delaware, states.
“It intentionally painted a picture of the Armenta Family as anti-Black, anti-Native American bigots who proudly engaged in the worst kind of racist conduct motivated by their family’s hatred for Black and Native Americans.”
The lawsuit was filed following weeks of legal threats by the Armentas, who demanded that the sports news site and its senior writer Caron Phillips issue a retraction for his story headlined “The NFL needs to speak out against the Kansas City Chiefs fan in Black face, Native headdress.”
The article included a photo of the boy that was broadcasted on CBS Sports during the Nov. 26 game against the Las Vegas Raiders, showing him standing in profile and appearing to wear blackface and a traditional Native American headdress.
The piece did not mention, however, that the other half of the boy’s face was painted bright red, depicting two of the Chief’s team colors.
According to the Armentas, Deadspin and Phillips specifically used the grab to “maliciously and wantonly attack a nine-year-old boy and his parents for Phillips’ own race-drenched political agenda.”
Phillips alleged that the boy had managed to “disrespect two groups of people at once,” in the article, which has since been tagged with a community note on X branding it “purposely deceiving.”
The story sparked immediate controversy, with the Armentas leading the charge against Deadspin.
The boy’s parents shared numerous pictures of Holden with his face clearly painted with two separate colors — and shared the shocking detail that the boy himself is Native American, with his own grandfather sitting on the board of the Chumash Tribe in Santa Ynez, California.
The Armentas repeatedly demanded that Deadspin retract the article and apologize to the family, but the outlet did neither, the lawsuit states.
Instead, Deadspin quietly amended the story, removing the image of Holden and included an editor’s note saying the publication “regret[s] any suggestion that we were attacking” the 9-year-old boy.
The damage was already done, however, the family claimed — with Holden being called a “p-ssy” and “motherf–ker” online, as well as being threatened with death via “wood chipper.”
“Deadspin has gone too far. [Holden] should not have to live with his face being plastered on social media alongside false and defamatory accusations of racist conduct. His parents should not be forced to live with the false and defamatory allegation that they are teaching ‘hate in the home,’” the lawsuit states.
“The Armenta Family brings this lawsuit to set the record straight and to hold Deadspin accountable for willfully spreading incendiary lies about a nine-year-old child who it chose as a vehicle for its race-baiting agenda.”
The family is asking for unspecified damages and other “remedies as the Court may deem just and proper.”