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After facing addiction and deep sadness, Bobby Brown has found some peace – and is finally sharing his story.
The R&B singer is reflecting on his decades-long career – along with the many triumphs and tragedies that came along with it – in a new tell-all documentary on A&E premiering on May 30 titled “Biography: Bobby Brown.”
In the televised sit-down, the 53-year-old reflects on his tumultuous childhood in Boston, his rise to stardom, a crippling battle with addiction, his ill-fated marriage to America’s sweetheart Whitney Houston, the deaths of his two young children and how he managed to find love again.
Bobby Brown is speaking out in a new documentary titled "Biography: Bobby Brown." (Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
Brown told Fox News Digital that sobriety has compelled him to address his painful past. He hoped that in speaking out, long-standing rumors that have plagued him will finally be put to rest.
“I have been approached several times by different networks and it just didn’t really work out,” he explained. “And I needed to heal. I had lost two of my kids. When A&E approached me, they shared that they wanted to talk about the real life of Bobby Brown. I figure, why not do it now and get some therapy doing it? Because it was therapeutic. I just felt that right now was a good time.”
Brown quit hard drugs while he was incarcerated in 2000, but he continued to struggle with alcohol addiction throughout the years. He last spent time at a treatment facility for alcohol abuse in 2020. Today, a clean Brown said that sobriety – along with prayer – has helped him face the losses and the trauma he’s experienced.
Alicia Etheredge and Bobby Brown were pals for decades before they tied the knot in 2012. (Amy Sussman/Getty Images)
“I work on my sobriety every day,” he said. “It’s a day-to-day thing. As long as I work hard every day on it, I continue to get great results. I have a loving family and a loving wife. I just want to be better for them. I want to be better for myself also. It’s been an uphill battle, but it’s been a battle I continue to win with prayer. That and therapy, along with love, have saved me.”
“There were so many times that I said to myself, ‘I want to get clean,’” he continued. “And I actually got clean from narcotics. That was so long ago and I’m thankful for it. But alcohol had played a big part in my life. I just had to get that one thing off my back. It’s been a long time since I’ve wanted to be full of life again. I finally had the chance and I’m taking full advantage of it.”
In the special, Brown shared a secret that he’s kept hidden for over 40 years. He recalled how, as a child, he witnessed his mother being beaten and arrested by police after she attempted to intervene in the arrest of some neighbors. As a result, Brown was sent to temporary custody by social services.
Singer Bobby Brown of the group New Edition, circa 1980. (Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
“It was supposed to be a religious place, but it wasn’t a very nice place to be for a child,” he revealed in the documentary. “One of the priests tried to molest me. He tried to touch my private parts… At that time, I was a young boy. I didn’t know what sexual boundaries were. I just knew I didn’t like being touched. Some things are hard to forget.”
Brown said it was important for him to be honest with the public and free himself of the shame that has weighed him down for decades.
“The misconception that I feel [the public] has about me is that they don’t understand me,” he shared. “They haven’t [understood me]. They don’t know how hard I’ve worked at being a better built Bobby.”
Bobby Brown holding a copy of his album "Don’t Be Cruel," circa 1988. (Getty Images)
Brown would later skyrocket to fame as a founding member of New Edition, an ‘80s R&B group that was meant to be a “new edition” of the Jackson 5. Brown flourished as an eager entertainer who escaped his rough neighborhood. But there’s one lesson he wished he’d taken more seriously along the way.
“I wish I would’ve taken more time to grow up, to become an adult,” he admitted. “I think that growing up in this business, you grow up pretty fast. You have to grow up pretty fast to be able to navigate through this industry. But I wish I could go back and tell myself to take my time.”
By the ‘90s, Brown branched out on his own as a successful solo artist. His new bad boy image and flings with stars like Madonna and Janet Jackson kept him in the headlines.
Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown were married from 1992 until 2007. (Ron Davis/Getty Images)
Then Houston, the pop princess with a seemingly squeaky clean image, came along. Tabloids called the union odd and insisted they were doomed from the start. Still, their whirlwind romance endured. The couple tied the knot in 1992.
But behind closed doors, both stars faced their individual battles with addiction. They officially called it quits in 2007. Houston would later become a shocking cautionary tale of the toll of drug use. Her album sales plummeted and the hits stopped coming; her once serene image was shattered by a wild demeanor and bizarre public appearances. She confessed to abusing cocaine, marijuana and pills, and her once-pristine voice became raspy and hoarse, unable to hit the high notes as she had during her prime.
In 2012, Houston passed away from a drug-related accidental drowning at age 48. It was a tragic fall for a superstar who was one of the top-selling artists in pop music history, with more than 55 million records sold in the United States alone.
Brown was often blamed by the press for Houston’s tragic demise. He has previously denied allegations that their relationship ever turned violent. In the years following the star’s death, many who were close to the former couple have alleged that it was Houston who influenced Brown in the use of hard drugs.
Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston battled crippling addiction behind closed doors. The singer recalled how painful it was to be blamed for his ex-wife’s demise. (Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage)
In the documentary, Brown said Houston didn’t quit drugs when he did, which significantly impacted their marriage. Still, Brown didn’t wish for a divorce. Looking back, Brown wished he could have found a way to help Houston embrace sobriety. Today, he still wonders what could have been.
“That was pretty rough,” said Brown. “Not many people knew what was going on. Not many people knew how [those accusations] affected me. Not many people knew what they were talking about. They weren’t living, breathing, or waking up with us. They just took it to the outer limits of expressing what they thought was going on. But the truth is, they really didn’t know what was going on.”
Brown shared that whenever he hears his ex-wife’s voice on the radio, he can’t help but smile. And he insisted that speaking out about his marriage was needed for his current union.
Whitney Houston passed away in 2012 at age 48. (Reuters/Ethan Miller)
In 2012, Brown married his longtime pal Alicia Etheredge-Brown. The pair first met in the late ‘80s and their friendship lasted over the years. They have since welcomed three children together: Cassius, 13, Bodhi, 6, and Hendrix, 5.
“It was very therapeutic for my marriage, now, [to talk about Whitney],” he said. “It’s important to know what to do and what not to do. We have a great marriage. Whitney and I, we had a great run, and I want better for my life, you know?”
Brown noted that his wife, who’s also his manager, has supported him during the darkest moments of his life. His only daughter with Houston, Bobbi Kristina, passed away in 2015 at age 22. Similar to her mother, she was found unresponsive in a bathtub with a mix of drugs in her system. She spent months in a coma before passing away.
Bobbi Kristina Brown, the only daughter of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, passed away in 2015 at age 22. (Shareif Ziyadat/FilmMagic)
Then in 2020, Brown’s son with ex Kim Ward, Bobby Jr., was found dead in his Los Angeles apartment from an overdose of alcohol, cocaine and fentanyl. He was 28.
The documentary showed Brown visiting Bobbi Kristina’s grave for the first time.
“I’m not one to hide anything,” he said. “This has been all therapeutic for me, the things that I’m doing for my life now. And that moment just happened to be captured on camera. I didn’t want to hide anything from the people. What I’m going through now is a real serious situation. I’m just thankful that God has given me another chance.”
Bobby Brown Jr. and Bobby Brown. The young artist passed away in 2020 at age 28. (Maury Phillips/Getty Images for BET)
“I hope parents watch over their kids, watch over the friends they have around, watch over the people that are around them,” he shared. “Be understanding of what they’re going through because life will throw you some curveballs. Life is not easy. Kids are going through some rough times. It’s important that we sit down and we listen. We must speak about our life experiences with them so that they understand they’re not alone.”
Brown said his late children visit him in his dreams.
“My dreams are beautiful,” he shared. “… I don’t roll over and pass out anymore. They have been very vivid and comfortable. No nightmares, no bad dreams. They’re wonderful.”
Members of New Edition, from left, Michael Bivins, Ronnie DeVoe, Bobby Brown, Ricky Bell, Ralph Tresvant and Johnny Gill pose at the 2021 American Music Awards on Nov. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles, California. (Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for MRC)
According to Brown, he’s ready to embark on the next chapter of his life. Today, he’s more hopeful about what the future holds for him.
“I don’t think I’ve made it yet,” he chuckled. “I’m still working on that part of my life. I think I’ve had some success. I’ve certainly had a lot of success that has led me to this point, but my whole being won’t allow me to say that I’m finished. God wouldn’t have me here for nothing. My life now is beautiful. I’m enjoying every moment I’m present with my children today. I handle my business differently.”
“The biggest misconception is that you can’t do it,” he continued. “It’s easier than you think. If you want better for yourself, if you want sanity, you can achieve it for yourself. It takes hard work, but it can be done. You can go through ups and downs, but there’s always something better for you on the other side if you keep trying.”
"Biography: Bobby Brown," a two-night special, premieres May 30 at 8 p.m. The Associated Press contributed to this report.