Violent crimes don’t distinguish targets by salary cap, social status or the number of followers someone has on Instagram – they’re all-inclusive. Over the years, fans have witnessed celebrities like Dwyane Wade, Janelle Monaé and Toya Wright experience tremendous loss as family members have fallen victim to gun violence. Unfortunately, this isn’t new. Here are celebrities who have lost family members to gun violence over the years.
Reality TV star Toya Wright lost two brothers to gun violence in New Orleans earlier this summer. Ryan and Josh Johnson, 24 and 31 respectively, were found dead inside of a car in NOLA’s seventh ward with multiple gunshot wounds. “It was the worst news ever,” Wright told PEOPLE. “You hear stories like this all the time, but it doesn’t really hit you until you get that call.”
Also this summer, Dwayne Wade’s cousin Nykea Aldridge was killed after being shot in the head on Chicago’s South Side. The 32-year-old had just registered her children for school and was pushing her baby in a stroller when police say two men shot at another man unintentionally striking Aldridge. “Another act of senseless gun violence,” Wade posted on Twitter. “[Four] kids lost their mom for no reason. Unreal.”
Most recently, Janelle Monáe’s cousin Natasha Hays was killed in a drive-by shooting on August 30 in Kansas City. The 38-year-old mother of three was sleeping when someone fired shots into her bedroom. Her 14-year-old found her body. “Gun violence is still keeping our city in a dark place,” Monáe tweeted. “The fear of ‘who is next?’ never leaves. Praying [for] more light. Help us.”
Monica isn’t one to publicly broadcast her personal life, but when it came to the death of her now late [ex]-boyfriend, Jarvis Weems, she couldn’t keep things bottled up inside. In 2003, Monica released her third studio album, After the Storm, which featured “I Wrote This Song,” a four-minute single detailing her former relationship and then-boyfriend’s suicide. Weems shot himself in front of the R&B singer after asking her to meet him at a local cemetery. When she arrived, Weems refused to open or unlock the car door, and Monica was forced to watch him die.
Kandi Burruss may have a family with Todd Tucker today, but seven years ago the former Xscape singer was engaged to a man named Ashley “AJ” Jewell. Soon after Burruss’ joined the cast of Bravo’s Real Housewives of Atlanta, her late fiancé died after a fight broke out in the parking lot of Body Tap, a strip club just outside of Atlanta’s metro area. Reports say he died from “injuries sustained during the brawl.”
Most people equate Cash Money rapper Juvenile as a upbeat, charismatic, in-the-streets family man, but his self-defining persona changed when his 17-year-old half brother, Anthony Tyrone Terrell, embarked on a killing spree in 2003. The NOLA rapper lost his mother, his 11-year-old sister and four-year-old daughter Jelani at the hands of his brother. Keen on keeping his family life private, Juvie didn’t say much to the press about his family’s deaths, but he has been quoted as saying, “You don’t get over things like that. That’s something that goes with you for the rest of your life. I don’t know, man, just time to yourself.”
While Venus and Serena are definitely the most famous members of the brood, the Williams family actually includes five daughters: Venus, Serena, and half-sisters Yetunde, Isha and Lyndrea. Yetunde Price, a mother of three, was killed in September of 2003 while sitting in an SUV with her boyfriend, Rolland Wormley. Amidst a confrontation, several shots from an AK-47 struck the vehicle and Price was killed with bullets intended for Wormley. In 2004, Crip Robert Edward Maxfield pled no contest to involuntary manslaughter and received a 15-year prison sentence. “It was a real dark period in my life. I went through depression,” Serena told PEOPLE. “No one knew I was in therapy, but I was. I was so close to my sister.”
Jennifer Hudson, and her family, took over media headlines in 2008 when Hudson’s former brother-in-law, William Balfour, murdered her mother, brother and seven-year-old nephew. Balfour was tried and convicted of three counts of murder in 2012, and the Dreamgirls star witnessed every day of his trial. His motive: he was angry his ex-wife, Julia Hudson, was not interested in reconciling, or repairing their marriage.
Bill Cosby lost his son, Ennis Cosby, to first-degree murder during a failed robbery near Interstate 405 in Los Angeles in January of 1997. Ennis was shot to death by 18-year-old Mikhail Markhasev. With no initial leads, the National Enquirer offered a $100,000 reward. Eager to receive the money, one of Markhasev’s associates offered information to the tabloid, which ultimately led to his arrest two months later. Markhasev was sentenced to life in prison plus 10 years.
Ice Cube has always been a family man; however, the West Coast rapper learned the loss of family early on when his half-sister, Beverly Jean Brown, was fatally shot by her husband when he was just 12 years old. She was a mere 22 years old, and died two blocks away from Cube’s childhood home. In 2003, he told The Huffington Post “I think about my sister a lot. I think about the turn of events that triggered that situation.”
Eight days before his 57th birthday, James R. Jordan Sr., MJ’s father, was gunned down on the side of a highway while he was sleeping. His car was stolen and his body was found a month later submerged in a swamp. Daniel Andre Green and Larry Martin Demery were later arrested after using Jordan’s stolen cell phone to make a call and were sentenced to life in prison. In a recent statement regarding police brutality and gun violence, Jordan mentioned his father and decried senseless loss of life to guns. “I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones, as I know their pain all too well.”
Diddy’s father Melvin Earl Combs, a known drug dealer, was found dead behind the wheel of his car in Central Park West when the future superproducer was only three. “There’s definitely been times as I’ve gotten older that I’ve missed my father, his presence, not being here,” the producer said in 2013’s “Confessions” video. “There’s things you would ask your father. there’s also things that you would celebrate with him that would make him proud.”