Celebrities Who Lost Parents in Tragic Deaths

Celebrities Who Lost Parents in Tragic Deaths
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As if losing a loved one isn’t hard enough, these renowned singers and actors have to deal with the shocking and horrifying manner of their parents’ deaths.

  • Feb 21, 2021

AceShowbiz – Nothing can replace the hole left by a loved one, not even the fame and wealth owned by a globally renowned superstar. With that in mind, it’s safe to say that even celebrities must have been dealing with insufferable grief when their parents passed away.

As if getting through the mourning period wasn’t hard enough, for some of them, the pain was even greater with the shocking or horrifying manner of their parents’ deaths. Whether it was in accident, violent act or by illness, the untimely passing of their parents have made these celebrities mentioned below deal with family tragedy.

1. Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars
WENN/Judy Eddy

For Bruno Mars, nothing was more important than his mom, not even his career. That’s why he’s more than willing to trade the best thing he can do to have her back. The “Just the Way You Are” hitmaker got candid about his feelings after his mom Bernadette Hernandez died suddenly of brain aneurysm in 2013 in an interview with Latina magazine. “My life has changed,. She’s more than my music. If I could trade music to have her back, I would,” he said.

The 35-year-old Grammy Award-winning artist remembered her, “I always hear her say, ‘Keep going and keep doing it.’ You just gotta know that she’s with me everywhere I go. It’s something that you can’t imagine – the pain and the things that you keep going back to: ‘I wish I would’ve done this or said this.’ ” He went on sharing how his mother’s death reminded him of a great wisdom, “You just have to see life differently. It shows you the real importance of life. Nothing else matters in this world but family and your loved ones.”

2. Kanye West

Kanye West

With his wealth from his hit records and other business ventures, Kanye West was able to spoil his mother Donda West with lavish lifestyle and fund her hobbies, including plastic surgery. But who would’ve guessed that this liking of hers would later become the cause of her demise. The rapper lost his mom in November 2007 after she suffered complications from cosmetic surgery involving abdominoplasty and breast reduction.

The pain due to the loss of his mother greatly affected Kanye’s music as he expressed his feelings in 2008’s song “Pinocchio Story”, in which he says he would give up everything he’s achieved to have his mother back. In a 2015 interview with Q magazine, the Yeezy designer blamed his move to Los Angeles for his mom’s death. “If I had never moved to L.A. she’d be alive. I don’t want to go far into it because it will bring me to tears,” he said.

3. Gregg and Duane Allman

Gregg and Duane Allman

Gregg Allman lived the ultimate rock star’s life, but long before he and his brother Duane Allman pioneered jam band aesthetics as the Allman Brothers Band, the duo survived a childhood scarred by tragedy. Their father Willis Turner Allman was killed by a hitchhiker the night after Christmas in 1949. Gregg and Duane were just toddlers, 2 and 3 years old respectively, at the time when their father passed away at only 31 years old.

The second lieutenant in the Army, who was stationed at Fort Story, and another officer, Robert Buchanan, met the hitchhiker in Oriental Gardens restaurant who then asked to be taken home. The hitchhiker directed them to a place near Lambert’s Farm, where he drew a small automatic pistol and robbed the two soldiers. Willis is believed to have lunged for the gun and got shot. He died from a bullet wound in the chest.

4. Kelsey Grammer

Kelsey Grammer
WENN/Judy Eddy

Like an irony, Kelsey Grammer, who has delivered a lot of laughs with his works, has been surrounded by tragedy since his early age. His parents divorced when he was young and he was raised by his mother in New Jersey, before she was settling in Florida, while his father remained in the U.S. Virgin Islands where he would later remarry and have several more children.

In 1968, when Kelsey was only 13, the Grammer family became the victim of a home invasion. His father went outside to inspect the noises and was shot twice. His wife Elizabeth reportedly had to drag his lifeless body away as the insane man threatened to run over it with a car. The killer was tried for the crime but was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Kelsey would later lose his sister in kidnapping and murder, and the “Frasier” star has since become an advocate of victim’s rights.

5. Diddy


Sean “P. Diddy” Combs’ successful career as a hip-hop star has fortunately saved him from shady business that took the life of his father. The Bad Boy record founder’s dad Melvin Earl Combs served in the U.S. Air Force, but had to become to a drug dealer to make ends meet. When Diddy was only 2 years old, his father was shot to death while sitting in his car on Central Park West in botched drug deal, a fact that the rapper didn’t discover until he attended college.

“Right there in that library I realized there’s nothing greater than a mother’s love and desire to protect her child,” he said of his mother’s effort to shield him from the harrowing truth. Diddy also had great respect for his late dad, as he remembered him a 2013 video tribute. Calling him “a hustler,” he opened up about having little memories of his father, “They say you can’t miss something you never had, but that’s only a little ways right.”

6. Bella Thorne

Bella Thorne

Bella Thorne was another star who endured childhood poverty while being raised by a single mother following her father’s passing. Her dad Delancey Reinaldo “Rey” Thorne passed away in a traffic accident in 2007, leaving behind his wife and four children, including Bella’s three siblings. Years later, the actress still broke down in tears when she remembered him.

“I just want to say that my dad might be dead, but I believe in something, and I believe he would be proud of me,” she emotionally said after reading a poem that she wrote about her late father in March 2019. The “Shake It Up” alum also paid a moving tribute on the 13th anniversary of her father’s passing in April 2020. “Want to say time heals but it’s been years and I still feel very broken without you, please stop by my dreams tonight so I can say hello,” she wrote on Instagram.


7. Dylan McDermott

Dylan McDermott
WENN/Sheri Determan

American Horror Story” star Dylan McDermott had a real horror story related to his mother’s passing. The actor lost his mother Diane McDermott when he was only five years old in the hands of someone who should have protected her. She was shot in the head by her boyfriend John Sponza as Dylan stood right outside the door in 1967.

John claimed it was suicide, a lie that held up until 2012 when Dylan reopened the case and found that John was responsible. John, however, had been found dead in the trunk of a car back in 1972. The “Survivor” actor told the police that it took him so long to investigate because, “In order for me to survive and to get where I am today, I needed to bury that moment in my life deep within myself.”

8. Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan
WENN/Judy Eddy

Michael Jordan‘s parents James R. Jordan, Sr. and Deloris Peoples moved from Brooklyn to North Carolina to protect their family because crime began to increase in Brooklyn in the 1960s, but even that didn’t guarantee James’ safety. He was shot in car theft in 1993 when returning home from a funeral. He pulled over on the highway to take a nap when the perpetrators took notice of his brand new Lexus SC400 and shot him to death in order to take his vehicle. James’ body was found over two weeks later in a swamp in McColl, South Carolina. The two men were later charged and convicted for the murder.

In a 2020 documentary, the former NBA star opened up about his father’s great role in making him move away from his troubled past. Michael said that his father was “the voice of reason that always drove and challenged me.” He added, “One of the things that he always taught me is that you have to take a negative and turn it into a positive. So I started looking to the other side of it, and that helped me get through it.”

9. Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson
WENN/Anthony G. Moore

Jennifer Hudson suffered a tremendous pain as she lost not only one, but three family members at a time. Her mother Darnell Donnerson, brother Jason and nephew Julian King were killed by her brother-in-law William Balfour in 2008. William, who was the estranged husband of J-Hud’s sister Julia, was later convicted on all seven counts against him and sentenced to three life sentences without the possibility of parole.

In 2014, the “American Idol” alum admitted the tragedy was “the lowest of lows,” but she was able to pull through, thanks to her son. She also attributed her faith in God in helping her cope with the insufferable losses. “It (faith) was the ultimate help to me. We always said: ‘If He brings you to it, He will bring you through it,’ ” she said in an interview with The Observer Magazine. “There would be no point in faith if it wasn’t tested.”

10. Patrick Duffy

Patrick Duffy

Patrick Duffy became an orphan in one night after both of his parents were killed by drunken men. In 2019, the “Dallas” star detailed the 1986 incident that took the lives of his mother Duffy Marie and father Terence Duffy, who owned a tavern in their hometown of Boulder, Mont. “My father kicked these two young men out of the bar at some point in the evening,” he told Closer Weekly. “So they went and drank elsewhere… and came back to the bar to kick his a**. When they stepped in the bar with their guns, they shot him. There was nobody else in the bar, so they shot both my mother and my father.”

Patrick recalled his mixed feelings at the time, “When my parents were murdered, I went through all the emotions of the horrific event – shock and anger and everything – but I never felt disconnected from [my parents]. I never felt that immediate loss. I did not know why then, but in retrospect, it was a result of being Buddhist.” The two men were found guilty of murders, but one of them was paroled in 2007. Already finding peace with the tragedy, the 71-year-old said of the parole, “I’m OK with that. My point of view is he’s already been punished. You know, whether he’s in prison or out of prison.”

11. Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj
WENN/Derrick Salters

It was only recently that Nicki Minaj started to experience the joy of motherhood, but now she has to part ways with one of her family members. Her father Robert Maraj died unexpectedly after becoming the victim of hit-and-run accident on New York’s Long Island. The 64-year-old father of the raptress was walking along Roslyn Road in Mineola when he was struck by a car at 6:15 P.M. on February 12. He was rushed to the hospital in critical condition and later succumbed to his injuries.

On February 17, a man accused of killing the “Anaconda” hitmaker’s dad, Charles Polevich, turned himself to police and was subsequently charged for leaving the scene of an incident and tampering with physical evidence. According to police investigation, Charles got out of his car after hitting Robert. But instead of calling 911, he “went home and secluded the vehicle,” said Nassau County Police Detective Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick. Charles has been released on bail, but was asked to surrender his passport.

12. Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron
WENN/Sheri Determan

Behind her apparent tough demeanor, Charlize Theron has a traumatic experience as a child. She grew up with an alcoholic father, Charles Theron, who was shot to death by her own mother Gerda in 1991 because he threatened then-teen Charlize and her mother and physically attacked her mother. The shooting was legally adjudged to have been self-defense, and her mother faced no charges.

In 2017, “The Old Guard” star opened up about dealing with the family tragedy. “I just pretended it didn’t happen,” she told Howard Stern. “I didn’t tell anybody – I didn’t want to tell anybody. Whenever anybody asked me, I said my dad died in a car accident.” The actress said that she struggled with the idea of being seen as a victim until she started going to therapy in her late 20s and early 30s, but is now able to move on from it. “It’s a part of me, but it doesn’t rule my life,” she declared.

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