She lived her life, and now has died, in the spotlight, regardless of whether she wanted to be in it. Bobbi Kristina Brown, 22, the only child from the marriage of music legend Whitney Houston and R&B singer Bobby Brown, has died.
According to Entertainment Tonight, Bobbi Kristina passed away surrounded by family at the Peachtree Christian Hospice in Duluth, Ga. In a statement to ET, the family thanked everyone for the love and support these past few months.
The last events of her life eerily paralleled those of her famous, embattled mother, who was found on Feb. 11, 2012, unconscious in a Beverly Hills Hilton bathtub. Almost three years after Houston’s death, on Jan. 31 of this year, Bobbi Kristina, too, was found unresponsive, submerged in a bathtub, in her Atlanta-area home. Since then she had been in the hospital, reportedly in a medically induced coma, and was more recently moved to the hospice facility.
To the public, the events leading up to Bobbi Kristina’s discovery in a bathtub remain hazy. Some blame her boyfriend Nick Gordon, who is now facing a lawsuit charging that he assaulted her and withdrew $11,000 from her account shortly after she was found unconscious.
Bobbi Kristina had endured tremendous turmoil that was a constant in her life in the limelight. A year before she fell unconscious, she was battling social media rumors about her sudden weight loss and possible drug use while defending her romance with Gordon, who became a lightning rod for disputes with her family members, with whom he regularly clashed.
Bobbi Kristina was born to much celebration on March 4, 1993. At 6 months old, she appeared in a televised Barbara Walters interview with her beaming parents, who discussed their marriage. Walters asked Houston whether she wanted more children, and she responded while doting over her daughter, “Especially after seeing her. Seeing what we can do together.” It was later reported that Houston had experienced problems conceiving, resulting in Bobbi Kristina’s remaining the only child the performer had with the former New Edition star.
The public got rare glimpses of the young Bobbi Kristina alongside her parents at awards shows and in paparazzi photos. But she didn’t take a significant step into the spotlight until a low point in both of her parents’ careers, when she appeared in her father Bobby’s 2005 Bravo reality show, Being Bobby Brown.
A train wreck, the show regularly featured her celebrity parents, seemingly high or inebriated, while a quiet, preteen Bobbi Kristina milled around in the background. She was only about 12 years old when the show aired. Two years later, her parents were headed for divorce, both battling their own internal demons and addictions, while Bobbi Kristina assumed a “caretaker” role with her mother, who gained custody of the 14-year-old in the divorce.
Reports vary dramatically in their characterization of the teenager, with some describing her as her mother’s staunchest protector and others depicting a possibly out-of-control child who had to be bribed by her mother with alcohol and gifts to keep her at her side. The reality, though, was probably somewhere in the middle, since many reports suggested that the mother and daughter maintained a fierce love for and devotion to each other under difficult circumstances. But extremes can take their toll.
In 2008 the tabloids went wild with rumors that 15-year-old Bobbi Kristina had allegedly been admitted into a psychiatric ward after trying to assault her mother with a knife, then turning the knife on herself and slitting her wrists. Rumors persisted about Bobbi Kristina’s alleged partying and drug use up until the 2012 death of her mother. And they continued even more feverishly thereafter.
The day after her mother’s death, Bobbi Kristina was rushed to Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Hospital, and at the time of her mother’s funeral, on Feb. 19, 2012, there were media reports that Bobbi Kristina was using drugs. Allison Samuels reported for the Daily Beast that Bobbi Kristina “simply disappeared” from a family gathering at a Newark, N.J., eatery and was later found in a hotel room, allegedly using drugs.
About her mother’s death and coping with it, Bobbi Kristina said in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, “I can hear her voice and spirit talking to me and telling me, ‘Keep moving baby; I’m right here. I got you.’”
Bobbi Kristina added, “She’s always with me. I can always feel her with me.”
“It’s a horrible situation for everybody,” Samuels wrote, quoting a friend of the family, who cited the toll on Bobbi Kristina’s grandmother Cissy Houston as well. “They tried to save Whitney, and it didn’t work. Now with Bobbi Kristina, they fear the same thing is happening again and they won’t be able to stop it either. Bobbi Kristina is all Ms. Cissy has left of Whitney. She’s so tired, but she’s ready to fight again to save her grandbaby.”
Despite the drug rumors, which she adamantly denied, Bobbi Kristina did enjoy fleeting moments of success. She received rave reviews for her work with Tyler Perry on his TBS sitcom For Better or Worse. She spoke adamantly about starting her own career in entertainment, singing and acting, and carrying on her mother’s legacy. She eventually reconciled with her estranged father in 2014.
Throughout her ordeals, she spoke fiercely of her love for Gordon, defending her romance from Cissy Houston’s accusations that the relationship was incestuous. Although Gordon had lived with Bobbi Kristina and her mother as an unofficially adopted son since he was a minor, Gordon and Bobbi Kristina were not blood relatives. In July 2012 she announced her engagement to Gordon and they claimed to be married in January 2014, but rumors have persisted, even up to her death, that the two were never legally wed.
A year before Bobbi Kristina was found unconscious, her cousin Gary Michael Houston allegedly attacked Gordon at a relative’s sweet-16 party, and Bobbi Kristina’s aunt Pat Houston obtained a restraining order against Gordon, alleging that he had “made threatening comments and posted photos of guns” on social media.
The dispute over the marriage’s validity is bound to be an issue when it comes to the disposition of Bobbi Kristina’s $20 million trust. As Whitney Houston’s only child, she is the sole heir to what remained of her mother’s fortune. If Bobbi Kristina and Gordon were legally married, he might be eligible to inherit it all. Otherwise, the fortune could go to her father, Bobby, or to other members of the Houston family.