Tragedy runs in the family.
Bobbi Kristina Brown, the daughter of late R&B supernova Whitney Houston and singer Bobby Brown, died Sunday at age 22, just shy of six months after she was discovered unconscious and unresponsive in a bathtub.
That incident, which ultimately led to her death Sunday, bears eerie similarity to the circumstances surrounding the death of Brown’s mother, who died in 2012 after accidentally drowning in a bathtub at the Beverly Hilton hotel in California.
Brown had spent the better part of the last six months in a medically induced coma. On June 24, she was moved to a hospice center in Duluth, Georgia, where she was surrounded by her family when she died.
“She is finally at peace in the arms of God,” the Houston family said in a statement. “We want to thank everyone for their tremendous amount of love and support during these last few months.”
The decision to move Brown to a hospice care facility and take her off her medication marked an occasion of rare agreement between Pat Houston—Brown’s aunt and co-guardian—and Bobby Brown, who had battled over Brown’s condition and medical care throughout the last six months, and a singular moment of peace amid what’s been an unfortunately dramatic affair.
According to TMZ, the Fulton County District Attorney in Georgia is planning to treat Brown’s death as a murder case, and the person of interest in the investigation will reportedly be Nick Gordon, Brown’s boyfriend, whose relationship with the late star was always difficult to define.
The two were raised as adoptive siblings, though Gordon was never officially adopted by Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown. After they became romantic, the couple claimed to have married, though family members later claimed that the marriage was never legal or official.
Gordon, along with his friend Max Lomas, discovered Brown’s body in the bathtub in January. According to TMZ, police reports detailed bruises on Brown’s face and body and suspected foul play.
The day that Brown was moved to hospice care, a conservator acting on behalf of Brown and her family filed a $10 million lawsuit against Gordon, alleging that he assumed the “position of Brown’s boyfriend” only after she became the sole beneficiary of her late mother’s estate, and that he would manipulate her and control who could contact her. The suit also alleges that Gordon would abuse and batter Brown.
In the time since Brown was rushed to the hospital, Gordon’s behavior has been, by all accounts, erratic and disturbed. The climax of a downward spiral was depicted in a shameless, exploitative episode of Dr. Phil, in which the TV personality and Brown’s estranged mother attempted to stage an intervention to stop Gordon’s dangerous alcohol abuse.
Of course, shameless reality TV has been a mainstay of Bobbi Kristina’s often-troubled life. Much of the world first became aware of the celebrity power couple’s daughter when she was featured on the short-lived reality series Being Bobby Brown. She was just 10 years old when the controversial show aired, depicting what we know now as the dark and drug-addled end of her parents’ relationship.
By all reports, Brown became closer than ever to her mother when her parents separated in 2006 and finally divorced in 2007. Just how close remains unconfirmed. The more salacious reports claim that they shared a drug dealer. But even those rabid for gossip-rag headlines could see that the two shared an unshakable mother-daughter emotional bond.
When Houston died, Brown was reportedly so distraught that she suffered a hysterical breakdown and required sedation. Immediately, tabloids zeroed in on the most frightening of rumors, including one that she was found getting high after her mother’s funeral.
Whispers of underage drug and alcohol abuse became widespread in the years following Houston’s death, especially after Brown co-starred in the ill-received, by this point typically shameless reality series Houstons: On Our Own, which capitalized on the public’s interest in the extended Houston-Brown clan following Whitney’s death. On the show, a then-19-year-old Brown was often seen drinking on camera and tottering around as if more than alcohol was inebriating her.
The tragic family history of addiction was all too apparent with Brown. Multiple sources told People that she had been regularly using heroin, cocaine, and Xanax in the months before her death, and was under the influence of drugs the morning she was found in the tub.
Unlike the horrifying shock of Whitney Houston’s death, which seemed to stop the world on its axis, Bobbi Kristina’s death has been foretold for several months now, with doctors routinely advising that Brown had no chance of recovery. In a disturbing way, there may even have been a certain inevitability to the tub incident that led to her death as well.
So much of Brown’s tragic downfall echoed that of her mother: an unhealthy, passion-fueled, and therefore impossible to interfere in love affair with a dangerous influence. A dependence on alcohol and drugs that contributed to an early and untimely death. And a nation of supporters rooting for a sunnier future that couldn’t get through to a young woman traveling through life on a path cloaked by those clouds of darkness.
“I still feel her everywhere,” Brown said once on a 2012 episode of Houston: On Our Own, referring to her mother. “She’s still around me and that’s what keeps me comfortable, is knowing that my best friend, my everything, is still with me.”
Hopefully that’s truer now more than ever.