Michelle Knight says fame comes with complications, plans to change name

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Michelle Knight says fame comes with complications, plans to change name
Michelle Knight, one of the three kidnapped women, pauses to wipe away tears as she reads her statements during the sentencing of her accused kidnapper Ariel Castro at a court hearing in Cleveland, Ohio August 1, 2013. Three women imprisoned for a decade in a Cleveland home spoke of their abuse in person, via video or through representatives on Thursday at a court hearing where their abductor is expected to be formally sentenced to life in prison. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Michelle Knight, one of the three kidnapped women, reads her statements during the sentencing of her accused kidnapper Ariel Castro at a court hearing in Cleveland, Ohio August 1, 2013. Three women imprisoned for a decade in a Cleveland home spoke of their abuse in person, via video or through representatives on Thursday at a court hearing where their abductor is expected to be formally sentenced to life in prison. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW)
Michelle Knight, one of the three kidnapped women, reacts as she attends the sentencing of accused kidnapper Ariel Castro at a court hearing in Cleveland, Ohio August 1, 2013. Witnesses testified in graphic terms on Thursday how Castro abducted three women and imprisoned them for a decade in his home, where he sometimes kept them in chains, isolated from each other and without regular meals. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW HEADSHOT)
Michelle Knight, one of the three kidnapped women, smiles as she appears in court for the sentencing of accused kidnapper Ariel Castro in Cleveland, Ohio August 1, 2013. Witnesses testified in graphic terms on Thursday how Castro abducted three women and imprisoned them for a decade in his home, where he sometimes kept them in chains, isolated from each other and without regular meals. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY HEADSHOT)
Ariel Castro's attorney Craig Weintraub holds an emergency room photo of Michelle Knight that was taken on the day of her escape during Castro's sentencing on kidnapping, rape and murder in Cleveland, Ohio August 1, 2013. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW)
Ariel Castro (C), 53, speaks towards one of his victims Michelle Knight while seated between attorneys Craig Weintraub (L) and Jaye Schlachet in the courtroom in Cleveland, Ohio August 1, 2013. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW)
Michelle Knight (2nd from left) reads statements while supported by her attorney (L) and friend as her accused assailant Ariel Castro (R) sits in the courtroom during Castros sentencing of kidnapping, rape and murder in Cleveland, Ohio August 1, 2013. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Ariel Castro (C), 53, stands between attorneys Craig Weintraub (L) and Jaye Schlachet as his sentence is read to him by judge Michael J. Russo in the courtroom in Cleveland, Ohio August 1, 2013. An Ohio judge on Thursday sentenced Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro to life in prison for abducting, raping and holding captive three women for as long as 11 years, and murder for forcing one of the women to abort her pregnancy. Cuyahoga County Judge Michael Russo imposed the prison sentence after an emotional court hearing at which one of Castro's victims, Michelle Knight, 32, said the former school bus driver put her through a life of hell. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 1: A screenshot from a video released by the three victims of Ariel Castro, (L-R) Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, is displayed during Castro's sentencing at the Cleveland Municipal Courthouse on August 1, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. Castro was sentenced to life without parole plus one thousand years for abducting the women between 2002 and 2004 when they were between 14 and 21 years old. (Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 1: Michelle Knight leaves the courtroom after Ariel Castro was sentenced to life in prison without parole plus one thousand years for abducting three women on August 1, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. Knight, abducted by Castro in 2002, addressed the court during the sentencing, telling Castro, 'I spent 11 years in hell, now your hell is just beginning.' (Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 1: Michelle Knight waits to address the court during the trial of Ariel Castro on August 1, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. Knight was abducted, along with Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, by Castro and held captive for 11 years. (Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 1: Cleveland Police officers assemble a model of the home where Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Georgina 'Gina' DeJesus were held captive by Ariel Castro in The Cleveland Municipal Courthouse on August 1, 2013. Castro abducted the women in Cleveland between 2002 and 2004 when they were 14 to 21 years old. They escaped this past May. (Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 1: Michelle Knight leaves the courtroom after Ariel Castro was sentenced to life in prison without parole plus one thousand years for abducting three women on August 1, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. Knight, abducted by Castro in 2002, addressed the court during the sentencing, telling Castro, 'I spent 11 years in hell, now your hell is just beginning.' (Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 1: Michelle Knight sits with her attorney during the sentencing of Ariel Castro on August 1, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. Castro was sentenced to life without parole plus one thousand years for abducting three women, including Knight, from 2002 and 2004 when they were between 14 and 21 years old. The women escaped this past May. (Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images) (Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 1: Michelle Knight (L) addresses the court while Ariel Castro (R) listens in the background on August 1, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. Castro was in court awating his sentence for abducting three women, including Knight, from 2002 and 2004 when they were between 14 and 21 years old. The women escaped this past May. (Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 1: Michelle Knight (2L) addresses the court while Ariel Castro (R) listens in the background on August 1, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. Castro was in court awating his sentence for abducting three women, including Knight, from 2002 and 2004 when they were between 14 and 21 years old. The women escaped this past May. (Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)
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CLEVELAND (AP) -- Michelle Knight has discovered that the fame that followed her escape from Ariel Castro's house of horrors cuts both ways.

There has been some obvious good. The girl who grew up without a toothbrush and spent nearly 11 years in captivity can provide for herself. She has her own apartment. Her book, "Finding Me," spent five weeks on the New York Times Bestsellers List. She and the other two women kidnapped by Castro split $1.4 million in donations collected after their escape. Phil McGraw of "Dr. Phil" television fame presented Knight with an oversized check for more than $400,000 from his foundation.

In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Knight said she is ready to assume a normal life and, with it, a new name and identity - Lily Rose Lee.

"I'm not a celebrity," said Knight, 33. "I don't want to be. I want to be me."

Michelle Knight Says She Is Not A Celebrity

Fame has brought some frustrations. Knight becomes frightened when crowds sometimes gather around her as she walks alone. She finds it annoying when people snap cellphone photos without asking.

And people from her distant past have reappeared, feigning friendship but ultimately seeking money, she said.

"You have to be careful every day because of the book and the money and the `it' factor of who you are," she said. "They're not coming at me to be my friend. They want what I have."

Knight writes in her book that she grew up under less than ideal circumstances. Food and clothing were hard to come by. Strangers drifted in and out of the house at all hours. She said her mother kept her home from school for days at a time to care for her twin brothers and assorted cousins who lived there.

She ran away from home at 15 and lived beneath a highway underpass and then with a drug dealer for a few months. She said in the interview that it was the most nurturing period of her early life.

Knight was 21 when Castro lured her to his home in August 2002. Amanda Berry was abducted in April 2003 just a day shy of her 17th birthday, and Gina DeJesus was 14 when he kidnapped her a year later.

The women escaped from Castro's home on May 6, 2013. Castro took a plea deal to avoid a potential death sentence and received life in prison plus 1,000 years. Knight said he violently aborted five of her pregnancies by kicking, punching and stomping on her abdomen after impregnating her. He ended up hanging himself in his prison cell a month after sentencing.

While Berry and DeJesus were reunited with loving families who had prayed that they would someday return, Knight refused to meet her mother who had flown to Cleveland from Florida. Knight spent the first four months of her freedom in an assisted living facility because she had nowhere else to go.

Knight said her 3,911 days in captivity have helped instill in her a deep appreciation for what's good in the world.

"It's just the little stupid things, like picking up a phone or writing in a book or looking out a window or just seeing a bird fly by," she said.

These days, she waits her turn at a local bar for karaoke night. She's trying to write and record songs. While she has been befuddled by some of the new technology that didn't exist in 2002 - like flat-screen televisions - she has no problems pecking away at her oversized smartphone.

She also has a growing collection of tattoos, including an image of a pretty young girl on her left bicep. She said the tattoo represents the babies Castro killed.

"They are my little angels," she said.

Knight has an infectious giggle and is quick to smile. She has a few phobias, like always keeping her apartment drapes open after living in boarded-up rooms inside the Castro house. Having lived in filth for so long, she said she's become a compulsive cleaner.

The course Knight is setting means leaving her family behind. She said she forgives them but doesn't want anything to do with them.

She also has decided to not pursue visitation rights with her son, Joey, who is now 14 and lives with adoptive parents. Knight said he doesn't know she's his birthmother and she doesn't want to disrupt his life. She knows he's happy, and that's good enough for her.

As for the future, she has a number of aspirations such as becoming a chef and owning a restaurant and recording music. What seems to excite her most, at the moment, is the prospect of soon visiting Disney World.

Knight said she believes God has a plan for her life.

Her Facebook page, which has nearly 24,000 likes, has become a support group for trauma victims. Discussing what she and others have endured has been therapeutic for her, she said. What pleases her most is having a positive effect on the lives of others.

"If I can help more than a million people or just one," she said, "I did my job."

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