Jennifer Hudson's Son: Everything She's Said About Parenting

Jennifer Hudson welcomed her son David Daniel Otunga Jr. in 2009

David Otunga Jr. and Jennifer Hudson attend the Los Angeles Premiere of MGM's "Respect" at Regency Village Theatre on August 08, 2021 in Los Angeles, California
Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

From American Idol contestant to EGOT winner and newly-minted talk show host, Jennifer Hudson has had a long and accomplished career in entertainment. But her favorite role will always be motherhood.

​​​​"It is the best feeling in the world, no words can describe it," the Respect star told Oprah of becoming a mom soon after the birth of her son in 2009.

Hudson welcomed her first and only child, son David Daniel Otunga Jr., on Aug. 10, 2009. She shares him with her ex-fiancé, former WWE Star David Otunga, whom she split from in November 2017 after a decade together. While Hudson retained an emergency order of protection against Otunga at the time of their split, she dropped it two weeks later.

Over the years, Hudson has largely kept her son out of the spotlight, sharing only a few glimpses of him on social media — primarily in video clips that show off his impressive dance moves. The teen seems to have inherited his mom's talent for entertaining, joining her onstage for duets and vogueing with her on red carpets.

"He's the cutest thing in the world!" the Grammy-winner gushed to PEOPLE about her son soon after his arrival. "There are no words for it. He's the best. It's just amazing – us discovering each other, me becoming a mom."

But motherhood has brought its own challenges, she added, including an uptick in anxiety.

"One thing they don't warn you about is … how your nerves shoot up," Hudson previously said on Oprah. "Now I worry about every single thing: 'Oh my God, what would happen if I sit him here, then he could fall and this could happen and that could happen.' I worry like crazy."

These days David is growing up fast — faster than the singer can quite comprehend. "I officially have a teenager !!!! Wow !!!!!!" the proud mom wrote on Instagram to mark his 13th birthday in August 2022.

Here's everything to know about Jennifer Hudson's son David.

He's a Leo

Jennifer Hudson, winner of the Outstanding Album award, David Otunga, and son David Daniel Otunga Jr. attend the 43rd NAACP Image Awards held at The Shrine Auditorium on February 17, 2012 in Los Angeles, California
Mark Davis/Getty

Jennifer Hudson welcomed her first and only child on Aug. 10, 2009. David Daniel Otunga Jr., who is named after his father, weighed in at 7 lbs., 14 oz.

Leading up to his birth, Hudson kept her pregnancy a secret, choosing not to acknowledge her growing baby bump publicly. She and Otunga opted to keep the sex of their baby a surprise.

"The baby is beautiful and perfect," Hudson's rep Lisa Kasteler told PEOPLE upon his arrival. "His parents are ecstatic."

Music calmed him down as a baby

Jennifer Hudson (R) and son David Daniel Otunga Jr. attend the 4th annual Essence Black Women in Hollywood luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel on February 24, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California
Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Describing him as "the cutest thing in the world," Hudson revealed that her son began taking after her starting at just a few weeks old.

"He seems like he's very interested in music already. The other night he was having a fit screaming, and someone turns on the music and he just stops and calms down. And I was exactly the same way as a baby," she told PEOPLE a month after his birth, noting that she played "Let It Be Me," her collaboration with Rod Stewart, to soothe her son. "Sometimes when he cries, I try to harmonize!"

In his early days, David showed "a lot of personality," Hudson told PEOPLE, adding that he was a "good sleeper" and that his "favorite time to smile now is diaper changes."

His birth after a family tragedy "saved" Hudson's life

David Otunga, Jennifer Hudson and son David Otunga Jr. attend the 2016 March of Dimes Celebration of Babies at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on December 9, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California
Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

The singer gave birth to David less than one year after tragedy struck her family, when Hudson's mother, brother and nephew were killed in October 2008. Her former brother-in-law, William Balfour, was convicted of the murders and is currently serving three consecutive life sentences in prison.

"I went from being an aunt, having a mom, and being a child to not having a mom, becoming a mom, and raising my own child," Hudson told Glamour in October 2015. She explained to the outlet that she credits her son with helping her get through that experience.

"I tell David all the time, 'You saved my life,' " she said.

He steals the show on the red carpet

Jennifer Hudson (R) and David Daniel Otunga, Jr. attend Nickelodeon's 28th Annual Kids' Choice Awards held at The Forum on March 28, 2015 in Inglewood, California
Jason Kempin/Getty

David made his first red carpet appearance with his mom at the annual Kids' Choice Awards in March 2015. Held at The Forum in Los Angeles, the event saw David and Hudson make their mark on the carpet as they struck fun poses for photographers.

David hammed it up on the red carpet with Hudson once again at the premiere of her movie Sing in December 2016 in L.A. Just a few days later, he stepped out with both of his parents at the 2016 March of Dimes Celebration of Babies at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel, marking their last public outing as a family of three.

Most recently, the young entertainer looked all grown up on the red carpet with his mom while showing his support at the premiere of Respect, in which Hudson plays Aretha Franklin, in August 2021 in L.A.

He does a spot-on Michael Jackson impression

Jennifer Hudson poses with David Daniel Otunga, Sr., David Daniel Otunga Jr as she is honored with a Star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame on November 13, 2013 in Hollywood, California
JB Lacroix/WireImage

In December 2016, Hudson shared a video of David doing his best Michael Jackson impression while dancing in front of the mirror to "Smooth Criminal."

"My munch is giving it! He loves him some MJ!" the proud mom wrote on Instagram. She added, "He always say 'I need my good socks, it helps me dance better' he is in here giving it to me, he said mommy u ready … "

He inherited his mom's vocal talent

Jennifer Hudson and her son David
Jennifer Hudson Instagram

David seems to have inherited his famous mom's vocal abilities too, as glimpsed in a video Hudson shared of the pair dueting "This Christmas" on stage together that December. In the clip, David starts out shy before busting a move alongside his mom, prompting a round of applause from the audience.

He rang in his teens with a race car-themed birthday party

jennifer hudson
jennifer hudson/instagram

To celebrate David's officially becoming a teenager, the EGOT winner threw him an epic race car-themed birthday party in August 2022. The festivities were held at an indoor speedway, where guests wore matching shirts that read, "DOJ 13."

"Can the entire team Jhud and the world stop what U r doing and wish my son a very happy 13th bday on today !!!!!!" the proud mom wrote alongside snapshots from the special day. "I officially have a teenager !!!! Wow !!!!!!" she continued. "Turn up my baby !!!! I will forever celebrate u !!!!"

He "has his own swag now"

Jennifer Hudson and her son
Jennifer Hudson Instagram

A freshly-minted teen, David is embracing his independence — something which Hudson is relatably still adjusting to.

"Whew child. Being a mom to a teenage boy. I feel like I have a new child at 13," the star told PEOPLE in November 2022. "Like, it's like, hello I'm your mother!"

Hudson added that she's working on trusting the foundation she's laid as a parent to help guide him as he makes his own decisions.

"Like he has his own swag now, his own plans and ideas, and it's trusting my teachers," she said. "You know, because he's older now, he's more independent and it's like, well this is what we want them to be. So feeling confident enough to let him come into his own."

He once got a goat as a gift

During a Dec. 12, 2022, episode of The Jennifer Hudson Show, Hudson and Blake Shelton spoke about gifts they gave each other when they were on The Voice together. The pair revealed that Shelton once gave David a goat.

Shelton explained that David asked him where he could get a goat. "It was this time of year, it was the fall season," the country singer told Hudson. "I think at some point I asked you, I said, 'I really would like to get [David] a goat for Christmas.' And so, got him a pygmy goat.' "

However, Shelton ran into trouble getting the goat to the little boy. "I wasn't gonna see y'all, so I had to, like, get an airplane to fly this freaking goat from Oklahoma to Chicago," Shelton said. "I mean, this goat had, like, a first-class ride."

"That is one of the most memorable Christmases for my kid, ever," Hudson said, adding that they named the goat Prancer.

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