Michael Jackson's Son Blanket: How the 'Shy' Teen Is Growing More 'Confident' After a Name Change

"The kids live like Michael is constantly looking down upon them," a family friend tells PEOPLE of Michael Jackson's kids

Thousands mourned the 2009 death of Michael Jackson, but none more than his own children.

Two weeks after Jackson’s death, from cardiac arrest brought on by powerful sedatives, his three kids – Michael Joseph Jackson, Jr., nicknamed “Prince,” then 12, Paris Michael Jackson, then 11, and Prince Michael Jackson II, nicknamed “Blanket,” then 7 – fought back tears in a downtown Los Angeles sports arena filled with nearly 10,000 mourners.

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In the years since that public memorial, the Jackson kids have had an unorthodox upbringing and weathered the squabbles of the sprawling Jackson clan but have done their best to lead normal lives.

“The kids live like Michael is constantly looking down upon them,” a family friend says in the current issue of PEOPLE. But Blanket, now 15, “has had the most problems adjusting after Michael died. He acted very lost and extremely upset.”


For more on the Jackson children and their life now, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

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In 2015 after reportedly being bullied for years, he changed his name to Bigi.

Although still “shy around people he doesn’t know,” he is now “confident” in his Los Angeles private school environment, focused on grades, sports, movies and hanging out with his friends and nearly 30 cousins.

It’s not exactly clear who is directly in charge of the teenager — whose mother was an unidentified surrogate — due to ongoing family disputes, but the 15-year-old lives at grandmother Katherine Jackson’s Calabasas, California, mansion under the custody of Katherine, 87, and co-guardian T.J. Jackson, 38, Michael’s nephew.

Michael’s relationship with his children is at the center of the Searching For Neverland, a May 29 Lifetime biopic which is based on the bestselling book about Jackson’s final years by two of his bodyguards.

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