Rickey Smiley, a comedian and radio host, recently revealed that his son Brandon died of an overdose. He used this tragedy to deliver a sobering message to parents: don’t assume your children are immune to substance abuse.
A friend in Birmingham, Alabama, discovered 32-year-old Brandon Jamaad Smiley unresponsive on January 29. There were no signs of trauma or foul play, investigators said at the time.
As Smiley explained in an interview with “Today,” his son’s girlfriend called him to tell him that Brandon had overdosed on drugs. According to Smiley, his son Brandon’s younger sister called him as he was driving from Dallas to Birmingham to tell him the tragic news.
Although a toxicology report has not been released, Smiley believes his son overdosed on drugs. Smiley admitted on “Today” that “he was struggling with that” (drugs).
His mom and I tried several times to get him the help he needed by sending him to a rehabilitation centre. We had hoped he had improved by then. About a month before his death, he had joined the church and been re-baptized.
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He was making use of. It was the final straw for him.
Birmingham-born Smiley thinks more and more parents are having the difficult conversation with their kids about the risks of drug use. He expressed concern over whether or not the intended message was being received.
Getting children to listen to their parents is a major challenge. These are the kinds of discussions that parents are having. Unfortunately, some of them are downright unpleasant. He continued, “You just assume if you’re in a good school district or in a gated community or everything is going well that these kids are not doing drugs. People from all walks of life, not just those living in poor neighbourhoods, can fall victim to drug abuse.
Please say some prayers for me and my family. The death of my son Brandon Smiley occurred this morning. I’m getting ready to board a plane in an attempt to reach Birmingham… The Lord have mercy on me, Jesus, he prayed.
Brandon’s mom and siblings were specifically mentioned, and they all needed prayers.
It’s with great reluctance that I make this announcement, but I’d rather you have it from me than from the gossip mongers on the streets, he explained. Smiley continued by saying that he was at a loss for what to do after the death of his father. “Now I see what my grandaddy went through and why he felt the way he felt,” he said.
According to Smiley, Brandon is a prankster who likes roller coasters and wants to be just like his famous father. Faith, he says, is what got him through the pain of losing his son.
‘God had kind of given me a sense that I’m shocked but not surprised,’ he said. “In some ways I was ready for it, but in other ways I was not, because that’s your child,” I told him.
In January, when Smiley first broke the news, he did not say how old his son was or what caused his death. The comedian said on the NBC morning news show that the family is “speculating” that drug use was the cause of death, even though the toxicology report isn’t yet final.
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Even if you live in a gated community, your child may still “succumb” to drug use, Rickey Smiley warned parents.
Smiley assured Melvin that his son and daughter were not involved in drug use because they attended a good school in a safe neighbourhood. “Drug addiction isn’t a problem just in the ghetto.”