Magic Johnson, Bill Clinton and More React to 'Devastating' Killing of 'Beautiful Soul' Jacqueline Avant

Jacqueline Avant, the wife of legendary music executive Clarence Avant, was killed in an apparent home invasion in Beverly Hills early Wednesday

Jacqueline Avant, Clarence Avant
Jacqueline and Clarence Avant. Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Those in the industry who knew and loved Jacqueline "Jackie" Avant are paying tribute to the woman with "a beautiful soul [and] kind heart" after her tragic death on Wednesday.

Avant, the 81-year-old philanthropist and wife of legendary music executive Clarence Avant, was shot and killed during an apparent home invasion in Beverly Hills, according to the Los Angeles Times, ABC News and CBS News.

The philanthropist and former model married Clarence, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in May, in 1967, the Greensboro News and Record reported. The two shared son Alex and daughter Nicole. Nicole produced a 2019 Netflix documentary about her father called The Black Godfather, and is married to Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos.

NBA great Earvin "Magic" Johnson wrote on Twitter that Avant was "the sweetest person you could ever meet."

"She had a beautiful soul, kind heart, & always had a kind word for everybody. She was quiet, yet powerful, & very smart," he wrote. "We are crying for Clarence, Nicole & Alex's loss. Our thoughts & prayers go out to the entire family."

Former President Bill Clinton also weighed in, saying he and wife Hillary Clinton were "heartbroken" by her loss.

"Jackie Avant was a wonderful woman, a great partner to Clarence and mother to Alex and Nicole, an active citizen & a dear friend to Hillary and me for 30 years," he wrote on Twitter. "She inspired admiration, respect & affection in everyone who knew her. We are heartbroken. She will be deeply missed."

Songwriting legend Diane Warren wrote that she was "heartbroken, disgusted and angry" by the killing, and that Avant was loved by all.

"Love to Clarence Avant and Alex and Nicole and the Avant family. We all loved Jackie and are all horrified by this senseless and heinous act of violence," she wrote.

Stevie Van Zandt also extended his condolences to the family, writing, "OMFG! Deepest, deepest condolences to Clarence, Nicole, Alexander, and Ted. What an unspeakable horror. We were so proud to induct Clarence into the Rock Hall this year, so well deserved, and now this…"

John Rich, one half of the country duo Big & Rich, wrote on Twitter that he and Clarence are close friends.

"I have friends from all walks of life, and Mr Clarence Avant is one of them," he wrote. "He's one of the most influential people to ever be in music and he and Ms Jacqueline have treated me like family for decades. Prayers up for the the Avant family tonight."

Added actress Yvette Nicole Brown: "Dear God! This is devastating news."

In a statement shared with Deadline, Danny J. Bakewell Sr., Chairman of Los Angeles Sentinel owner Bakewell Media and a longtime friend of the Avant family, said that Clarence is safe and "currently grieving, but resting with his family."

"Words cannot express the pain and devastation we felt this morning over the senseless murder of our beloved friend/family member Mrs. Jackie Avant. Her brutal murder is not only a loss to her entire family but is a terrible loss to everyone who met her," the statement read. "Her warm and kind personality was evident to everyone who came into contact with her, and her loving smile was a Blessing to us all… Our prayers go out to Clarence, Nicole, and Alex as they try and navigate through what has to be the most difficult time in their lives."

The Beverly Hills Police Department said officers responded to a home in the 1100 block of Maytor Place around 2:23 a.m. Wednesday and found the victim with a gunshot wound. The victim was taken to the hospital where she died. (Police have not confirmed to PEOPLE that the victim was Avant, or that the home was that of the Avants.)

The suspects had left the scene by the time the police arrived, and no arrests have been made.

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In addition to serving on the board of directors of the International Student Center at UCLA, Avant also served as president of Neighbors of Watts, which is connected to the nonprofit South Central Community Child Care Center, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Her husband Clarence, known as the Godfather of Black Music, was inducted into the Rock Hall in May with the Ahmet Ertegun Award, which goes to non-performing industry professionals who have had a major influence on the creative development and growth of rock and roll music.

He was inducted by Lionel Richie, who told the audience Clarence, 90, was "the perfect marriage between street sense and common sense."

Clarence launched Sussex Records in 1969, which helped kickstart the career of legendary singer Bill Withers. Two years later, he started Avant Garde Broadcasting, one of the first Black-owned radio stations in the country.

He was also an executive producer of the historic 1973 concert film Save the Children, and helped fight for more equitable and lucrative deals for Black artists on major record labels throughout the 1970s.

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