The Sad Tragic Life Of Kandi Burruss

The Real Housewives of Atlanta star Kandi Burruss seems to have it all. On top of being a Grammy winner who boasts a $30 million net worth, she's also married to the love of her life, producer Todd Tucker, and has two beautiful children with one on the way. But lurking underneath the glitzy veneer of Burruss' many successes and enviable existence in Atlanta is a heart-wrenching backstory.

Burruss has faced hardship in what can be a ruthless music industry, which is understandable considering she has been in the spotlight since she was a teenager. From her time in the R&B group Xscape to her years writing lyrics for popular artists like TLC and others, she has experienced plenty of downs alongside the ups. 

Even if you're not a fan of the kind of drama Real Housewives diehards have come to expect, there's a good chance you'll be fascinated by how Kandi Burruss' transformed her sad tragic life into something beautiful. So have a box of tissues handy, and let's get started.

Kandi Burruss' brother died in a heartbreaking accident

Kandi Burruss doesn't talk about her immediate family very much (minus her mom and aunts), but it doesn't mean she grew up without siblings. Some fans might not know Burruss had an older brother named Patrick Riley, who died in a car accident when she was 15 and he was 22. It's unclear what caused the 1991 wreck, but Burruss confirmed it happened in Mexico.

Burruss, who described the loss as "devastating," revealed she went to school the day after losing Patrick to cope. She also presumably named her daughter Riley after her older brother, who she still dearly misses to this day. "He got along with everybody, and even when there was drama, he was able to get us all on the same page," she said about his influence on Xscape (via The Daily Dish). "If my brother had not passed away, we probably would have lasted longer as a group than we did."

Although there's nothing positive about the situation, Burruss does take solace in the memories they shared. "Happy Birthday to my brother Patrick! He was the best big brother in the whole world," she captioned a throwback shot of the pair. "Sometimes I wonder what would he be doing if he was still here. I still miss him."

What happened to Kandi Burruss' ex-fiance was devastating

In addition to losing her brother Patrick Riley, Kandi Burruss also suffered the untimely passing of her ex, Ashley "A.J." Jewell. The business owner, who was engaged to Burruss, was killed in October 2009 during a fight outside of a strip club in Atlanta. "It appears he was involved in an altercation in the parking lot and he received a severe blow to the head," Atlanta Police Lt. Keith Meadows told WSB TV 2 at the time (via People). 

Although Burruss and Jewell broke off their engagement in June 2009, the death was still devastating for the "Just Kickin' It" singer. "I'm just in one of those moods where I don't wanna talk, I don't wanna b held & told its gonna b ok. I just wanna cry myself 2 sleep, alone," she tweeted at the time (via CNN). Burruss also expressed concern for Jewell's six children, who she had come to know during their time together.

Most of all, Burruss was upset by how unfair the situation was. "There was so much that he wanted to do," she wrote for HelloBeautiful. "When I spoke to him yesterday I never thought that it would be for the last TIME! A.J. had a great spirit and he was a good man."

Making matters even worse? Burruss' uncle, Ralph Leslie, who she described as "one of [her] biggest supporters" died right around the time of Jewell's death. How terrible.

Kandi Burruss endured loss upon tragic loss

As if Kandi Burruss hadn't suffered enough heartache, she lost a beloved aunt only two days after Christmas in 2018. "I lost my Aunt Hazel this morning," she captioned a heartfelt Instagram post. "Why does it always seem like we lose loved ones around the holidays? Please keep my family in your prayers."

Although it's not uncommon to lose an older loved one, what made this death upsetting is how it created an even bigger hole in Burruss' family. "My mom was the youngest of 14 siblings. There is only 5 of them left now," the singer explained on Twitter at the time. 

Luckily for Burruss, however, her mom Joyce is still alive, in addition to a few of her closest aunts. The group helps run the Old Lady Gang restaurant in Atlanta, a popular spot serving up soul food recipes passed down in Burruss' family. Talk about a wonderful legacy.

Mama Joyce's dark feud with Kandi Burruss' mother-in-law

It's no secret Kandi Burruss' mom, Mama Joyce (above), is one tough cookie. This sentiment was on full display when Joyce got into an epic fight with the mother of her husband, Todd Tucker. What are we talking about, exactly? Before Kandi and Todd's wedding in April 2014, Joyce said during a RHOA episode (via TooFab) that Todd was "raised by a pimp and a prostitute." As if that's not bad enough, Kandi later told Vlad TV that her mom heard this dubious info from "people in the streets." Yikes.  

Todd's mom, Sharon Wells, didn't take the jab lightly, telling Kandi and Todd during dinner (via Radar Online), "Tell your mother to expect something in the mail. I'm going to send a f**king summons." And this doesn't have to be said, but dealing with this upsetting drama in the midst of getting married isn't ideal.

Things took an especially sad turn, however, when Sharon unexpectedly passed away in December 2014 from a stroke. It's deeply unfortunate because Joyce never got to make peace with Sharon before she died, which she told TMZ she regretted. There's a chance that the bad blood between the feuding in-laws left a lingering cloud of resentment over Kandi and Todd's marriage. At least Joyce had the wherewithal to not attend Sharon's funeral out of respect for her beloved family members.

Mama Joyce has issues with Todd Tucker, too

Kandi Burruss' mom, Mama Joyce, has rarely approved of her choice in men. Case in point: Joyce had a problem with the father of Burruss' first child, Riley, and her daughter's ex-fiance, A.J. Jewell. This trend unfortunately continued when Burruss got engaged to Todd Tucker in January 2013, with Joyce accusing her future son-in-law of trying to profit off of her child's name. "I want my child to be happy and I didn't want her to be taken advantage of," she later told Radar Online about her displeasure. "I wanted Kandi to marry somebody that had as much as she did." Bolstering herself as a protective mom, Joyce continued, "I didn't take from Kandi, I didn't use her ever."

Sadly, the drama continued on, with Joyce accusing Tucker of sleeping with Burruss' BFF, Carmon Cambrice. And after the two tied the knot in April 2014, Burruss' told RHOA costar Porsha Williams (via Bravo) that her daughter "took a lemon and made lemonade," with Tucker being the lemon, obviously. The comment rubbed the producer the wrong way and he had to confront Joyce about the jab. 

Jeez, it's clear Burruss can't catch a break. Fingers crossed things have since gotten better.

The difficult reason why Kandi Burruss chose surrogacy

After Kandi Burruss and Todd Tucker welcomed their son, Ace, in 2016, they decided to have another child. The only problem? They conceived Ace through IVF, and the pregnancy was considered high-risk — this meant their journey to baby number two wouldn't be easy. As for why Burruss' ability to conceive and carry is tricky? She has uterine fibroids, which are non-cancerous growths that can sometimes cause infertility and pregnancy complications. "We realized I had a fibroid — a big one — inside the cavity of the uterus where your baby would implant," she told Madam Noire in 2015.

Although Burruss knew she was lucky to have a surrogate carry her second child with Tucker, the decision wasn't easy. "Todd and I are both nervous about it. I think it's easier for Todd to handle or deal with because as a man he's used to somebody else carrying the baby," she told The Daily Dish. "But for me it's a little bit harder for me to deal with the thought because I'm supposed to carry my own kids in my mind. But, hey, with science, it's made other options to be able to make it happen."

Burruss and Tucker welcomed their new baby girl, Blaze, on November 22, 2019. 

A heartbreaking loss in utero

As one might imagine, Kandi Burruss was thrilled to learn she was expecting her second child with husband Todd Tucker via surrogate. And everything seemed to be going according to plan at first, with the surrogate set to deliver twin girls in November 2019. One of the embryos was sadly lost, however, as Burruss noted, "I was sad at first, but then I just had to be grateful that the one made it." 

Despite Burruss' optimistic attitude about the situation, the loss dredged up old insecurities she has about surrogacy. "I just feel like this whole situation is strange," she explained on an episode of RHOA (via People). "I don't get to be excited about the first kick. I don't get to be excited about, 'Oh now my baby bump is showing.' I don't get to be excited even about my boobs filling up with milk."

Burruss is certainly entitled to her own feelings, and we commend her for being so honest about the situation.

Kandi Burruss faced the ultimate betrayal

As we previously mentioned, the music industry can be ruthless. Someone who knows this all too well is Kandi Burruss, who experienced a betrayal from one of her former Xscape bandmates, Tamika Scott. To sum up the drama, in 2007 Scott accused Burruss of sleeping with Jermaine Dupri's dad, Michael Mauldin. This would have been problematic as Dupri discovered the group and had signed them to So So Def Recordings, therefore blurring the lines between business and romance. What's more? The claim was just downright awkward. 

"Jermaine and I hooked up, but that's not why the group broke up," a hurt Burruss said in a confrontation with Scott in 2017, after the group had reunited. "You said that I hooked up with Jermaine's dad, and that's absolutely not true." Scott admitted she was wrong, but it's safe to say irreversible damage was done. Burruss touched on this sentiment in a 2013 conversation with Houston Style Magazine, stating, "To this day now, I have to see people try to say that I had sex with Jermaine's father. She said that just to make me look bad to people ... When people do stuff to try to damage you or bring you down to the public, that's hateful."

Rumors can be terribly hurtful, especially when they come from someone you think is a friend. Poor Burruss.

Wait, what about a sex dungeon?

Kandi Burruss was beyond devastated and furious in Season 9 of RHOA, when costar Porsha Williams accused her of attempting to drug her for sexual purposes. Williams even claimed Burruss and her husband, Todd Tucker, had some sort of sex dungeon in their home where they planned to take advantage of her. Burruss always denied the allegations, however, and the truth came to light during the season reunion. It's a long story, but essentially what happened is this: then costar Pheadra Parks allegedly told Williams that Burruss had confided in her about this supposed plot. When pressed about this at the reunion, Parks' narrative unraveled and said she had "repeated" what had been told to her by an anonymous source. "You said first person. You said, 'Kandi told me this.' You said that she told you," a stunned Williams told Parks at the time. 

To say Burruss was crushed by the lie is an understatement, telling the women amid tears, "Do y'all know people would was under my comments saying #KandiAKABillCosby? Do you think that sh*t is f***ing cool?" She continued, "Y'all know how much I care about my business and my brand. We throw shade, whatever. But drugs? ... Drugging somebody while drinking and taking them home is rape. Y'all accused me of being a f**king rapist. That is crazy."

We still can't believe Parks, who was fired from the show as a result of the scandal, went there — it's truly unbelievable. 

The truth about Riley Burruss' biological father

Fortunately for Kandi Burruss, she now has a supportive husband and partner who also happens to be a good dad. She wasn't always so lucky, however, because the father of her first child, Riley Burruss (above), was largely absent. "I didn't have a relationship with my father," Kandi explained on an episode of RHOA (via People) about her ex-partner, Russell "Block" Spencer. "And I don't want to see my child go through that."

It seems Kandi and Riley didn't have a choice in the matter, as Block allegedly wasn't keen on becoming a dad. "I told him that day, 'That's fine motherf**ker, because you'll never have to worry about how she is," Kandi said amid tears, recalling the day Block said he wouldn't be involved. "You'll need her before she needs you.' And I meant that sh*t. I meant it."

It's not clear where Block and Riley's relationship stands today, but in 2017 Kandi said it was "moving in a positive direction." Better late than never, as the old adage goes.