Looking back on Bobby Brown in his late ’80s commercial heyday—the Gumby ‘do, energy zapping out of his pores, the snarled bravado—it’s hard to fathom the turns his life has taken to make him such a tragic figure. But grieving has defined the most recent chapter of Brown’s public life—his ex-wife Whitney Houston died in 2012; his daughter Bobby-Kristina Brown in 2015; and most recently, in 2020, his son Bobby Brown Jr. died after overdosing on fentanyl, cocaine, and alcohol.
And so, the women of Red Table Talk had a lot to work with when Brown joined their chorus of affirmation for an episode that premiered Wednesday. Brown told Jada Pinkett Smith, her daughter, Willow, and her mother, Adrienne Banfield-Norris, that his son’s death “hit me very hard” and that “I admired him as a young man.” He sought to clarify misconceptions the public may have after Bobby Brown Jr.’s overdose.
“Let me make it clear, he wasn’t a user,” said Brown. “He would experiment with different things. It wasn’t like he was dependent on drugs like when I was in my situation. I depended. I needed it. He was a young man that tried the wrong stuff, and it took him out of here.” Brown blamed himself in part: “I’ve been through my time and I know that my time played a part in my son feeling he could test something... And I feel guilty about that.”
Brown labeled dealers who lace their product with the highly potent fentanyl as “murderers out there right now that are creating these synthetic drugs that are killing these kids.” He said that an investigation is underway to uncover the source of the drugs that killed Brown’s son.
Brown also said that he believes that Bobbi Kristina’s former boyfriend Nick Gordon was responsible not just for his daughter’s death, but his ex-wife’s. “He was the only one there with both situations, with my ex-wife [Whitney Houston] and with my daughter, and they both died the same way,” said Brown. “This is my opinion of who I think this young man was. Being around my daughter and being around my ex-wife, I think [Nick] was more so a provider of, you know, party favors.” Brown told the Table that he never confronted Gordon. However, in 2016, Gordon was ordered by a judge to pay $36 million to Bobbi Kristina’s estate in a wrongful death suit. Bobby Brown was one of the witnesses.
“It’s pushed down,” said Brown regarding his feelings about his daughter’s death. “I’m keeping it away from me as much as possible because I couldn’t do nothing then and I can’t do nothing now.”
Brown founded the Bobbi Kristina Serenity House, a domestic violence safe haven, in 2015, the year his daughter died. After mentioning it, Pinkett Smith referenced the violence that was reported to have occurred in Brown’s relationship with Houston. He was charged with battery in 2003 and admitted to hitting Houston once in a 2016 interview with Robin Roberts. (In 2009, Houston told Oprah Winfrey that Brown had spit on her during a confrontation.)
At the Red Table, Brown said, “The violence that we incurred was using, you know? That’s violence in itself.” He continued, “You know, that’s abuse. We abused drugs and alcohol. We fought hard verbally and we loved even harder.” He then emphasized the verbal nature of their tumult: “Verbally, it gets really, really messy.”
Brown says he has been off narcotics for 19 years and “going on a year from alcohol.” He said that spending time in jail, as he did in 2004, was his rock bottom.