Bobbi Kristina Brown: Inside the Troubled Life of Whitney Houston's Daughter
The 21-year-old has faced heartbreak, struggles and controversy
On Thursday, Bobbi Kristina Brown, the only child of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, was Tweeting up a storm about everything from garlic fries and a fishtail braid to more cryptic messages like, “On my own.”
Less than 48 hours later, the 21-year-old was found unresponsive in the bathtub of her Roswell, Georgia, home and rushed to the hospital. It’s been almost three years since her mother was found dead in a bathtub in L.A. on the day before the Grammy Awards, an accidental drowning caused by a combination of drug use and heart disease.
Devastated by her mother’s death, Bobbi Kristina has faced some of the same demons as her mother and her father, Bobby Brown, who both publicly struggled with addiction during their tumultuous 14-year relationship.
“Bobbi Kristina will be the first person to say that she has used in the past, and that she dealt with a lot of pressure from growing up in the spotlight. You’ve seen the pictures on the Internet, so you know,” says a source close to the family. (In 2011, the National Enquirer ran photos of her snorting a white powder. Bobbi Kristina denied drug use, saying she was set up by an ex-boyfriend.) “But as of five months ago, she swore up and down that she wasn’t using, and she seemed very adamant.”
Bobbi Kristina was acutely aware of how similar she was to her famous mother, the family friend added. “The last time I talked to her was before Halloween, and I said, ‘You know that we’re worried about you. I hope you’re not using.’ And she said, ‘I know how my mother died, and I’ve learned from her mistakes.’ ”
Growing up Houston was not exactly a normal experience for Bobbi Kristina. Though Bobby Kristina went on tour with her mother and made brief appearances on the family reality show Being Bobby Brown, she still enjoyed the same rites of passage that most youths enjoy – like trips to Disneyland and going to fun ‘tweener movies like The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement. (Though in Bobbi Kristina’s case, she got to attend the actual premiere with her mom).
“She supports me, she loves me, she gives me good mommy hugs,” Bobbi told Access Hollywood in 2011.
Bobbi Kristina was just 18 when Whitney died. She was in the lobby of the Beverly Hilton Hotel when her mother was pronounced dead in a suite. Bobbi Kristina had “a complete breakdown,” a source told PEOPLE at the time. The teenager was taken to Cedars Sinai Medical Center that night, and again the next morning, to be treated for stress and anxiety.
Bobbi Kristina, who inherited her mother’s fortune, found comfort in the arms of her now husband, Nick Gordon. The relationship troubled some members of her family, who considered Gordon her unoffically adopted brother. He joined the Houston home when he was 12 and Bobbi Kristina was 9. At the time of their engagement, a source told PEOPLE, “the family is trying to coax her away from it. ”
Bobbi Kristina was frequently seen drinking and stumbling around on-camera during the filming of The Houstons: On Our Own, the family’s short-lived reality show on Lifetime. In 2013, Whitney’s mother Cissy addressed how her daughter’s death continued to adversely affect her granddaughter.
“Of course I worry about her,” said Cissy. “It doesn’t mean that she is going to follow her [mother’s] same path. She could but anybody could. I don’t want to jinx her. I’m trying to make sure she doesn’t.”
Living with Gordon in Atlanta, she stirred up controversy several times. In 2013, the couple were evicted from an apartment after multiple noise complaints from a neighbor. Last year, Bobbi Kristina launched an angry, expletive-fueled Twitter rant against director Angela Bassett, who opted not to include her in this month’s Lifetime movie Whitney. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Bassett explained it was for a number of reasons that she steered clear of Bobbi Kristina, one being, “she’s not an actress.” Bobbi Kristina later apologized for her rant.
In March 2014, she came under more scrutiny for her suddenly super-skinny physique.
“I am my mothers child! Have you ever heard of a #fastmetabolism ?” she Tweeted. “Damn, lol, it’s incredible how the world will judge you 4ANY&EVERYthing.”
Then, in July, a photo was posted on her Instagram account showing her allegedly smoking pot out of a bong. She denied the photo was hers. “I’ve never posted any photo of me doing anything! This is someone trying to tarnish and make a horrible name for MYSELF. People are insane,” she Tweeted.
But it’s one recent Tweet that resonates as her friends and family gather and hope for her recovery. “Miss you mommy,” she wrote on Jan. 26. “SOmuch.. loving you more every sec.”
• With reporting by STEVE HELLING
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