Who Are R. Kelly's Children?

In what seems like a lifetime ago, Billboard named R. Kelly as one of the greatest R&B singers of all time. But not that or even any of his other lifelong achievements mattered when his past eventually caught up with him. Kelly, who had for two decades, been slammed with numerous sexual misconduct allegations was arrested in February 2019 and then charged with ten counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. In the indictment, the "Storm Is Over Now" singer was accused of sexually abusing four women, three of whom were minors at the time the crime sex acts happened.

Between his very many atrocious acts, it might however be easy to forget that the singer once had a regular life — at least that's what it looked like. Back in 1996, Kelly got married to his second wife, Andrea Kelly with whom he would go on to have three kids: Joann Kelly, Jaah Kelly, and son Robert Kelly Jr. As one would have imagined, despite his sentencing, the singer's crimes have continued to affect the family he left behind. Appearing on "Good Morning Britain" in 2019, Andrea acknowledged how difficult it was, coming to terms with the fact that her kids would always be linked to their father. "I have the ability to separate and distance myself from it, but his blood runs through my children's veins and it's part of their DNA and they can't escape it even if they wanted to."

From their chosen careers to their strained relationship with their father, here is all you need to know about R. Kelly's kids.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

Andrea Kelly almost lost her third pregnancy

In 2002, when a video showing R. Kelly having sex with a minor surfaced, Andrea was in the last months of her third pregnancy. After the news broke, R. Kelly reportedly forced Andrea to leave Chicago for Florida where she was without friends or family, as she revealed in the doc, "Surviving R. Kelly." Unsurprisingly, the stress from the scandal, coupled with the physical and emotional abuse she had long suffered in the singer's hands, would go on to affect her unborn baby. 

During one of Andrea's visits to the hospital, doctors struggled to find the baby's heartbeat, leaving them no other option than to induce labor. "I went through the labor and I just remember falling so in love with little Rob because he came here so strong. I was in that much stress," Andrea explained.

And then after having the baby, Andrea was yet again forced to live through the news of R. Kelly's child pornography indictment. "I was (sitting) with the baby, and then it comes across the screen like, 'R&B singer R. Kelly has been arrested for child pornography.' And I just remember my best friend was with me, and she said she didn't know what happened, but my body went limp, and she said she caught little Rob before he hit the floor," she recounted in an episode of the miniseries.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

Buku Abi once contemplated suicide

Growing up a celebrity's child pretty much sounds like the dream life — except it isn't, at least not for Joann Kelly (who now goes by Buku Abi). Speaking to AP News in 2019, Abi opened up about growing up in the limelight and the many struggles that went on behind the scenes. "I think you get to see a different side of it than somebody who sees it from the outside and gets to see the glitz and glam. I got to see the hell part of it. I didn't want to be in the industry," she recounted. 

Besides the struggles of fame, however, Abi also had to deal with the very many stories swirling around about her father at the time. "Fifth and sixth grade is when I started learning the sore part of it, the not-so-good part. I think that was the hardest part for me because for so long I went with this image of who my dad [was] and what my family [was]," Abi explained. Sadly, for Abi, the ripple effect of this new knowledge was a decline in her mental health — so much so that she once contemplated suicide. Eventually, however, she found strength she found in the one thing she has always truly loved. "Ever since then, I've been in it and it's literally saved my life," she said of her music career.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Buku Abi suffered a miscarriage

In November 2020, Buku Abi took to social media, revealing that she had suffered a miscarriage the previous month. "Dear Son. I am heartbroken you left me so early. If I'm being honest... I'm also angry," she wrote in a since-deleted Instagram post(via HotNewHipHop). "Many things have happened this year that I don't understand.... but this one I don't even want to believe, accept, move on from... but I will learn..."

Though she only found out about the pregnancy in its eighth week, Abi recalled forming a bond with her baby and consequently feeling strengthened by the love she felt for him. All of her strength however shattered after suffering the miscarriage. "It's been almost 2 months since you physically left and all the days have seem to mesh into one," she added. Abi finished up her post with words of encouragement to women and mothers who might have suffered the same fate as her. "I feel you and I love you. There's really no words to describe the pain, I know. I'd never want anyone to understand this pain.. and to the ones that do... somehow someway it'll be okay again," she wrote.

Abi has also previously been a victim of cyberbullying — an experience she revealed once made her consider ending it all. "People don't realize how bad that hurts. Because it's like, I didn't do anything. I didn't ask to be here," she said on "Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta."

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

R. Kelly did not support Jaah Kelly's gender identity

In 2013, R. Kelly's second oldest child Jaah Kelly — born Jaya Kelly — came out as transgender (although she no longer identifies as a trans male). In a social media post, the then-13-year-old said she had identified as a boy since she was about six or seven. "I hated dresses, I liked girls, I didn't want breasts, I didn't want a taco area, I didn't want long hair, I am a boy," she added (via Newsone). In another social media post, Jaah revealed (via InTouch Weekly) that she planned to undergo gender-affirming surgery to complete her transition process. "I believe I am a boy and want surgery, and the medication to help me who I was supposed to be," she wrote.

Touching on her parents' reaction, Jaah confirmed she was yet to tell her father of her new identity but added that her mom Andrea Kelly was very supportive. "[My mom] was like, 'Baby, you know I love you if you were bi, gay, [lesbian], you name it and I would still love you so much," Jaah explained. When he did, however, eventually find out about Jaah's gender identity, R. Kelly was not particularly supportive of her decision. "You don't really wanna open it up by saying my daughter is becoming my son," he reportedly once said during a radio interview with Chicago's "WCGI" (via Jezebel). "Don't even give the blogs that kind of credit. You know what I'm saying? Real talk."

Jaah Kelly is committed to living her truth

Despite R. Kelly's apparent lack of support in the wake of her coming out, there simply was no backing out for Jaah Kelly. After coming out in 2014, Jaah had a tough time coming to terms with her new reality, eventually leading the then-teenager to a three weeks stay at a psychiatric home. In the end, however, this ordeal turned out to be a rebirth for Jaah as she continued to redefine herself through the years. 

Now in her 20s, Jaah identifies as a lesbian these days, having realized that is her true identity. "When I was younger, I always felt like I had to make a choice. I knew that I was a girl who liked other girls. But because of what I was taught, I felt like the only way you could like another girl is if you were a boy," she explained to Paper of her initial decision to come out as transgender. A lot more confident in herself, Jaah couldn't care less about her father's support or what people think of her identity. "It's up to you how you see me. Either way, I don't care. I stand in my truth, and why does my truth need a label?" she said in the interview. 

In addition to finding her true identity, Jaah is also making a name for herself in the music industry. "Going after my music is the thing I'm proudest of in my life," she gushed to the magazine.

R. Kelly influenced his children's love for music

They might not be on the best terms with him but Buku Abi, Jaah, and Robert Kelly Jr. all inherited their father's music genes — something even they can't deny. "There's a lot about him as an artist that inspires me," Abi confessed to AP News in 2019. "He has made mistakes in his life and other things that he's dealing with, but when it comes to that, I can't take that away from him. That's the one thing that will always keep us connected."  

Like Jaah, through the crazy ordeals of life, Abi has found solace in music. And while she continues to work her way up in the industry, Joann has faced numerous challenges — because of her father. "I have been trying to get into the music business ... all those years it's been you're getting it because of who your dad is, or you're not getting it because of who your dad is," she explained in an interview with Atlanta's "Majic 107.5." 

Despite the difficulties though, Abi has continued to put out music. At the time of writing, Abi has a number of songs to her name including 2019's "Don't Call Me" and "Cheers To You, Shadow" released in 2020. Similarly, Robert Kelly Jr. might also be considering a career in music like his father. The youngest Kelly once delivered a banging rap verse in a music video for his school.

He is rumored to have fathered another child

In July 2022, EW reported that Joycelyn Savage, who formerly admitted she was one of R. Kelly's victims, was claiming to be engaged to the singer. "My name is Joycelyn Savage, and I'm Robert Kelly's fiancé[e]," she wrote in a letter pleading for leniency from District Court Judge Ann Donnelly. "My relationship with Robert is amazing. He's the best thing that's ever happened to me. We have a very special connection and are deeply in love. I still support Robert to this day because I love him and will always be here to support him."

Things however took an even more interesting turn when one month later, Savage announced she was expecting a child with the singer. In her book "Love and Joy of Robert," Savage detailed her alleged romantic relationship with Kelly, revealing that she found out she was pregnant after their engagement. "Robert is extremely excited about the news that I am having a baby and feels sad that Robert will not be able to be here with us," she wrote (via New York Post). This claim, however, might not be exactly true.

Shortly after news of Savage's alleged pregnancy broke, R. Kelly's lawyer came out denying claims that the singer had fathered another child. "There is no truth to reports that Joy is releasing a tell-all memoir and she is certainly not pregnant with R. Kelly's child. People are just insane. Carry on," she wrote in a since-deleted tweet (via Independent).

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

None of his kids are in communication with him

In 2019, Andrea Kelly accused R. Kelly of deliberately holding back his child support payment because she dared open up about the abuse she suffered at his hands. "He stopped paying child support when I came forward with my story, so he's still economically abusing me. So, it's like, 'Oh, okay, you want to tell your story? Fine. I'm cutting off child support,'" she told People

In addition to this, however, the "I Believe I Can Fly" singer also cut off direct contact with Buku Abi, Jaah, and Robert Kelly Jr. "He has no relationship with his children now. He doesn't call them, he changed his phone number. We don't have that phone number. Like, what dad does that? But that's him," Andrea told "The Bert Show." According to her, instead of "dad," the singer's kids simply refer to him by his name, "Robert Sr."

Abi echoed similar comments in a September 2019 interview with AP News where she admitted to not involving herself in the singer's legal drama. "I don't let that be a part of my every day [life]," she explained. "[We] don't have a relationship, so it's not like me to check in on him. I don't personally go look it all up and read. I keep myself out of it."