ESSENCE.COM: A real man puts his foot down for his woman! So even after all the drama that has gone down between Lisa and Kim, which the blogosphere believe is staged, you have no regrets?
HARTWELL: No, and it’s not staged. Unfortunately, it’s as real as it gets. It’s not staged. I think it’s crazy because a lot of things that they are saying are lies. Did Lisa make a phone call to Kim? Yes. Did she threaten her life? No. [The ladies] are taking it way too far but eventually the truth will come out because there are only so many lies that you can continue to tell other people [before] they start mistrusting you, and after a while you lie so much you begin to forget your own lies, which has been happening. In the end, you ruin yourself and your reputation. It’s all catty. I know Lisa doesn’t do drama either, but she got dragged into it because she’s human and was offended.
ESSENCE.COM: So do you think your wife did the right thing by defending herself?
HARTWELL: I told her that I had to deal with this stuff all the time when I was playing ball, as far as all the negative comments. I told her to speak from the heart and give her rebuttal and leave it alone. If she didn’t speak on it, people will assume that it’s the truth if you remain silent. Lisa’s response was never to bash but to set the record straight and say her peace. The more she keeps it going, she will give Kim what she wants and that’s more attention. It’s not worth it.
ESSENCE.COM: Well, let’s end it here. How is your relationship with Lisa’s sons, Justin and Jordan?
HARTWELL: Me and my sons have a great relationship. I tell everyone I have three sons. They call me dad; I never say my stepkids, they are my sons. Every kid is different but they are both wonderful children. My eldest son is about to turn 14 and I have conversations with him that I can’t have with Justin. Jordan wants to train, so now we’re both training.
ESSENCE.COM; That’s great that you’re involved in their lives. Do you have a good relationship with their father, Keith Sweat?
HARTWELL: Not at all. The reason is because [when I started dating] Lisa there was a lot that I had to stop from happening. I had to lay down the law, man to man. Have I tried to work out some things and put our differences to the side for the sake of the kids? Absolutely. I don’t like to play games.