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James Robertson, the Detroit man whose story of walking some 21 miles to and from his job went viral and included an outpouring of donations, has taken out a restraining order against his ex-girlfriend, who reportedly wants some of his newfound wealth.

“He said he was going to give me $50,000 to fix up the house,” Tanya Fox, 60, who was Robertson’s girlfriend and also his landlord, told the Detroit Free Press.

According to the Free Press—which broke the story of Robertson’s dedication to work, which included waking early to walk miles to catch a bus, only to be dropped off short of his job, walking the rest of the way, and having to endure the process in reverse—the episode has been far from happy.

As Robertson’s story spread, a local car dealership gave him a new Ford Taurus. A college student launched a crowdfunding campaign that raised $360,000 in donations. Robertson, 56, became a local celebrity of sorts, but many in his Detroit neighborhood apparently saw his success as an opportunity for them.

Robertson felt compelled to park his car at a nearby police precinct over concerns that it would be stolen. Fox, her adult son and her ex-husband became so aggressive toward Robertson about money that the police had to stand guard while Robertson gathered his belongings and moved out of the Fox-owned house in which he had been a tenant. Robertson moved into a suburb of Detroit, thanks to the donated funds, but that didn’t stop Fox from reportedly harassing Robertson for money she believes she is owed.


“James was not a neat person; he got grease all over the wall” of the kitchen, she told the Free Press. She also noted that she planned to contest the protection order because she doesn’t see herself as a threat to Robertson.

According to the newspaper, Robertson was paying Fox $880 a month for a small apartment he rented from her for 15 years. He now pays $800 for spacious new accommodations. The new location is just a 20-minute drive from his factory job, where he continues to work as a plastic-molding operator making $10.55 an hour. He told the Free Press that he will continue to work and hopes that someday soon he can invest the remaining money so that any interest he earns can go toward his retirement. He added that he didn’t give anyone from the old neighborhood his new address.

“I may have been born there,” Robertson told the newspaper, “but God knows I don’t belong there anymore.”


Read more at the Detroit Free Press.