What Donald Trump Has Said About His Brother Fred Jr.'s Tragic Death

The following article includes references to alcoholism.

Give Donald Trump a mic and he will talk, but the one thing that the former U.S. president tends to keep quiet about is his brother Fred Jr.'s tragic death.

Trump grew up with four siblings – Maryanne, Fred Jr., Elizabeth, and Robert. Fred Jr. was the eldest son in the family and was supposed to inherit his father's real estate empire, but he had other passions. Fred Jr.'s desire to become a pilot caused significant tension between not only him and his father, Frederick Trump Sr., but his younger brother, Donald. Annamaria Schifano, a former girlfriend of one of Fred Jr.'s close friends, told The New York Times, "Donald put Freddy down quite a bit. There was a lot of combustion." Schifano explained that the two brother's constantly fought, with Donald picking a lot of the fights.

Despite the backlash from his family, Fred Jr. pursued piloting. He later married Linda Clapp in 1962 and welcomed two children. On the outside, Fred Jr.'s life seemed to be turning out the way he wanted, but the reality was that he struggled with an alcohol addiction. By the '70s, Fred Jr. wound up divorced and back to living with his parents. A decade later, in 1981, 42-year-old Fred Jr. tragically died due to a heart attack associated with alcohol misuse. Since his death, Donald has only shared bits and pieces about his brother's death and his relationship with him.

Donald Trump regrets the pressure he put on Fred Jr.

Fred Jr. was the black sheep of the Trump family because he didn't want to get into the real estate business. Speaking about his lack of passion for the business, Donald Trump told The New York Times, "[Fred] was caught sort of in the middle as somebody who didn't really love it, and only because he didn't love it, he wasn't particularly good at it."

Fred Jr. may not have been enthusiastic about the idea of taking over the family business, but Donald was — and he was good at it too. Because the former U.S. president was better at the real estate business than his older brother, Donald believes it put even more of a burden on Fred Jr. He said, "My father had great confidence in me, which maybe even put pressure on Fred." But it wasn't just Frederick Trump Sr. that put pressure on Fred Jr. Donald did too.

Before becoming president, Donald was known as an intense businessman, so it's not surprising that he had that mindset that from a young age, especially when it came to his older brother. The political figure told The Washington Post, "I do regret having put pressure on him." He continued, saying, "[The business] was just not his thing ... I think the mistake that we made was we assumed that everybody would like it."

Donald Trump has learned from Fred Jr.'s death

Looking at Fred Trump Jr.'s life, many have wondered whether his addiction to alcohol was linked to the pressures he received from his family. While no one may truly know, Donald was asked by The New York Times if he felt Fred Jr.'s addiction was a result of the burdens he faced. "I hope not," Donald said. "I hope not."

Fred Jr.'s tragic death is still something that is at the forefront of Donald's mind, even if he might not always show it. In October 2017, when discussing the opioid crisis in America in a speech, the former U.S. president reflected on his own experience witnessing others' struggles with addiction. He began by speaking about Fred Jr.'s fun-loving personality, saying, "I had a brother, Fred. Great guy, best-looking guy, best personality, much better than mine" (via CNN). It was clear that Fred Jr. was a stand-up guy, but he had an issue that he never wanted Donald to experience. The political figure shared, "He had a problem with alcohol, and he would tell me, 'Don't drink. Don't drink.' He was substantially older, and I listened to him and I respected [him]." The businessman revealed he stayed away from smoking and drinking because of Fred Jr. He said, "I learned because of Fred. I learned." Although Fred Jr.'s death was tragic, Donald took important lessons with him that he carries to this day.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).