Fans of MTV’s 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom OG have seen star Amber Portwood experience multiple ups and downs throughout her time on the television series. They also witnessed how her hardships have heartbreakingly affected her relationship with her daughter, Leah.
In 2008, Amber and her then-boyfriend of two-and-a-half years, Gary Shirley, found out they were expecting a child together. The pregnancy led to Amber dropping out of high school. Together, Gary and Amber, who were engaged for a time, welcomed Leah Leann Shirley to the world on November 12, 2008.
During filming of the Teen Mom OG season one finale and throughout the second season in 2010, Amber exhibited violent behavior against Gary, including slapping, choking and kicking. The pre-taped episodes led to an investigation after the Anderson Police Department in Indiana received two anonymous emails urging them to look into the incident, The Herald Bulletin reported at the time.
In December 2010, Amber was arrested on felony domestic battery and child neglect charges stemming from the September 28 episode. Detective Mitch Carroll informed the outlet that Amber was facing child neglect charges because Leah was present during the filmed instances of domestic abuse.
“According to police documents, on August 14, 2009, Portwood shoved Shirley against a wall, slapped him on the face and choked him,” Carroll said, according to CNN. “The incident was witnessed by the couple’s 1-year-old child who sat in a child seat on a nearby bed.”
In June of that same year, Amber allegedly slapped Gary “five times, punching him three times and kicking him at least once,” and in July, “in the presence of their child,” Amber allegedly slapped Gary in the face and punched him “several more times in the face and upper-body.”
Over time, Leah’s relationship with Amber deteriorated due to her repeated run-ins with the law.
“Twelve years and she hasn’t really done anything,” Leah said during an episode that aired on March 30, 2021. “That’s kind of been like Kristina’s spot … All [Amber] did was give birth to me.”
Amber, who has struggled with substance abuse and mental illness since Leah’s birth, continues to attempt to mend her strained relationship with her daughter.
Scroll through to learn more about Amber’s arrest history and relationship with Leah.
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