Headlines will often tell a different story than the truth. Ta’kari Lee, the 27-year-old daughter of Jackie Christie, is a good example of this.
Last year, the mother of three was thrown into the spotlight after her youngest son, Jaxson, sustained burn injuries in an accident at his daycare. The headlines told the story of a disparaged mother who desperately needed help; so much so, a GoFundMe was created to help with his medical bills.
While Lee’s name is attached to a “behalf of” mention by a friend who posted the page, the relationship with her Basketball Wives star mother was not mentioned at all. The GoFundMe only became public when gossip sites looked into the crowdfunding page; it was later revealed that fellow BBW star Evelyn Lozada paid the entire goal.
But from sitting down with Lee, it’s clear why she never publicly asked her mother for help.
“When Jaxson got hurt, I did not expect anything,” Lee told ESSENCE exclusively. “I was surprised [the accident wasn’t] enough reason for something, a text, an e-mail, a letter in the mail, anything.”
In the emotional discussion, Lee opened up about her distant relationship with her mother, who gave birth to her six years before meeting and tying the knot with step-father and former NBA player, Doug Christie.
Lee’s father, who’s currently in prison, had a relationship with Jackie in which the 27-year-old was conceived. Lee says she knows little about their relationship other than they did “business” together, which at some point became personal. She alleges once she was born, her relationship with her mother became estranged and she was raised by her maternal grandmother in Tacoma, Washington.
While Lee has always had a good relationship with her stepfather, she says she’s never been close to her mother, despite her numerous attempts to forge a relationship.
“She puts more effort into a relationship for TV,” she said. “I wish I could get her approval, but at some point you accept you’re not gonna get it. And when my son got hurt, that’s what happened. It became accepted.”
“I never spoke to my mom when anything happened. Prior to that, we hadn’t spoken in seven months. She said I had cut her off and things like that and that’s not the case. I sent happy birthday texts for my stepfather, I sent happy anniversary texts, happy birthday texts to my mom, and that’s over a few month period. Never got a response. So I didn’t reach out to anyone when my son got hurt, not a soul.”
“She’s just kind of like, stay over here, out of the way. I’ve been at events, actually, when I was finally invited around. They take family pictures and I’m told to go stand over somewhere else.”
When asked if the issue stemmed from an argument or some major falling out, she contends it’s none of the above.
“I think a lot of people interpret it as well, ‘Oh, you know, they had an argument or a fight one day and they have not been able to patch things up since then.’ And that’s not what we have here. That’s not what we have here at all. This is a since-birth type [thing]. I can’t tell you, I can’t put it into words. I don’t know how you feel that way towards another human or your own child, but it’s just animosity.”
“I want to tell my story for those in similar situations for them to know that they can make it. They can do better and strive. They should know to not let anyone bring them down and to just move past the pain.”
We contacted VH1 for a comment from Jackie Christie, and she declined to respond. But as of Wednesday, she posted this message to Instagram.
“At this point I’m not going to change the mind of anyone,” she says. “I’m simply going to speak from my heart to all of you in hopes you get a glimpse into my world from a different, more private, perspective.”
Time, luckily, has a habit of healing and for Lee it’s allowed her to be in a positive space about the incident that injured her son and her strained relationship with her mother.
“Oh my God, my kids are literally my life,” she says. “The feelings that I had towards my mother, it’s kinda like they had reversed roles. Grandma was mom, Mom was kinda like Grandma. The visiting lady, she would come around, even if she’s there.”