Jeremy Jackson's Rise & Fall: From Baywatch Teen Heartthrob to Rehab and Now Jail
Throughout the 1990s, Jeremy Jackson rose to fame playing David Hasselhoff‘s mischievous yet lovable on-screen son Hobie Buchannon on the hit series Baywatch — but more than 20 years later, the former teen heartthrob is serving out a jail sentence after striking a plea deal for allegedly stabbing a woman in Los Angeles.
As it turns out, this isn’t Jackson’s first time getting in trouble with the law. Here’s a look back at how the troubled actor shot to stardom before falling into a years-long downward spiral.
Jackson, now 36, was born in Newport Beach, California. He started working in the entertainment industry at just 6 years old after landing a Mattel commercial.
“The child star stigma is one of those things that’s almost impossible to explain,” he said during a 2006 episode of E!’s Child Star Confidential. “It hurts me in a lot of situations, it helps me in a lot of situations.”
“All my life I was raised by a single mom,” he continued. “I never got to know my dad. He was a drug addict, and that’s why my mom pretty much kidnapped us out of a bad situation.”
At just 10 years old, Jackson landed a starring role on Baywatch that he would keep for nine years until 1999.
“The part of Hobie was very similar to me,” Jackson said during Confidential. “[The] surfer kid with the single parent that was kind of mischievous and whatnot.”
Things took a turn for the worse during his teenage years, when Jackson began to develop an addiction to drugs while filming the series.
“I probably made over $2 to $3 million from Baywatch,” he said during Confidential. “I had the means to destroy myself: I had a lot of money, and I had a lot of people around me that weren’t really my friends but I thought they were, and I totally got sucked into a downward spiral of a lifestyle.”
“I smoked pot every day, and I did cocaine until it stopped working,” he admitted. “Like, I couldn’t get high off it anymore.”
According to Jackson, at the time, his costar Hasselhoff even confronted him about it.
“He just kind of looked me in the eyes and was like: ‘Jeremy, what are you smoking, pot?!’ ” Jackson recalled. “I didn’t have the heart to tell him: ‘That was two years ago — now I’m doing coke and ecstasy and speed.’ ”
Eventually, the fame got the best of him and one day, Jackson suddenly quit the series.
“The real deal was that I got a big head and I thought that I was better than Baywatch, or that I was going to go off and do my own stuff,” he confessed. “I walked off one day with my middle finger up in the air, saying, ‘Screw you, I’m not coming back to this set.’ And I pulled myself off the show.”
Arrested at 19
Jackson’s drug addiction raged on, eventually evolving from marijuana and cocaine to crystal meth.
“I have tried GHB, weed, pills, ecstasy. Crystal meth was a thing that really took me to my knees,” he said during Confidential. “I had to learn to cook it on my own so I could support my habit. I learned from some pretty gnarly gangsters — some gnarly, gnarly people. I did it not to sell it or make money, but just for my own personal use.”
At 19 years old, Jackson was arrested.
“I was leaving a residence with two duffel bags full of everything you need to cook crystal meth,” he recalled. “Undercover cops swarmed on me. I was looking at [charges for] manufacturing methamphetamine, which is a mandatory seven to 35 years. I looked like hell — a lot of scabs and sores on my face, really, really skinny, really, really pale.”
“I called my mom immediately,” he continued. “I had said so many times: ‘This is the last time, I’m sorry, it won’t happen again, I’m going to change’ — but there’s nothing you can say at that point. I went to jail for 90 days. The manufacturing charges got dropped. I was charged with possession with intent to sell. I did my time, I did my rehab. I think it was probably the fifth rehab I had been in.”
Jackson later reflected on the incident during season 5 of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew in 2011.
“I had the fame, I had the girls, I had the money, and I threw it away,” he said. “My drug of choice was crystal meth, and it was big-time downhill from that point on. I was drinking, doing coke, chasing this high with girls and sex. It was out of control.”
“I ended up getting arrested,” he added. “I was surrounded by police officers, thinking, ‘How did I do this to myself? How did I get here, man?’ ”
In the years that followed, Jackson continued to work on himself, even starring in VH1’s Confessions of a Teen Idol in 2009, a reality show that followed seven former teen stars and their attempts to rebuild their careers.
But his dreams of getting back into acting soon led him to develop a new addiction to dangerous, steroid-like drugs.
“I wanted to be the next Sylvester Stallone and get in really good shape,” he said during his 2011 stint on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. “It started out innocent enough — you know, gym, trainers, acting class, but having that addict mentality … for a guy like me, it’s just not fast enough. I want results, like, now.”
“I’ve spent at least $200,000 in the last three years strictly on steroids and pills and injections,” he confessed. “I do these human growth hormone injections … these are normally for AIDS patients or cancer patients or people recovering from serious surgeries to help their tissue repair.”
“It’s very extreme, very aggressive,” he added. “I could not continue to live the way I’m living. … I can’t do it.”
Ejected from Celebrity Big Brother
In 2015, Jackson was kicked off Celebrity Big Brother after pulling open another contestant’s dressing gown.
Jackson was in the bathroom throwing up after getting drunk when model Chloe Goodman came in to check on him, at which point she claimed Jackson pulled open her robe.
The next day, Jackson was removed from the series, with producers calling his behavior “wholly unacceptable.”
Jackson later described the incident as a mixture of “innocence and curiosity,” saying he had been “silly, bold and dumb” to lift Goodman’s robe as she was offering assistance.
“I made a mistake,” he said. “And now I’m in boiling water for it.”
In April 2015, Jackson was arrested for allegedly stabbing a man in Westlake, California, and then fleeing the scene. Jackson was reportedly charged with assault with a deadly weapon and released on bail hours later. He told TMZ at the time the stabbing was in self-defense, claiming he was the victim of an attempted robbery. The charges were reportedly dropped.
RELATED VIDEO: Baywatch Star Jeremy Jackson Arrested for Suspected Stabbing
Four months later, in August 2015, Jackson was arrested yet again for another alleged stabbing: A woman claimed he stabbed her in the back, arm and leg after they got into an argument about her boyfriend’s car.
He was reportedly charged with assault with a deadly weapon and criminal threats for the alleged August stabbing. On Oct. 27, he was reportedly released from jail on bond and headed straight to a rehabilitation center on the same day. (His lawyer told Entertainment Tonight the treatment was voluntary, not court ordered.)
PEOPLE confirmed on Monday that Jackson accepted a no-contest plea deal for the August 2015 incident, agreeing to a 270-day jail sentence and five years’ probation. (A no-contest plea is functionally identical to a guilty plea, though the defendant does not admit guilt to the charges.)
Without the plea deal, Jackson — who is expected to be released on May 16 — faced seven years in prison if found guilty. Neither his attorney nor his rep immediately responded to requests for comment.