Celebrities Who Lost Children Far Too Young

The following article includes references to suicide, addiction, and sexual abuse.

Juggling a demanding career in Hollywood with the responsibilities of parenthood is likely a very challenging task. The stress of being a celebrity parent becomes even more overwhelming for those who have lost a child. From Nick Cannon to Joe Biden, there is a long list of celebrities who are familiar with this pain. Chrissy Teigen is among the parents who have had to work through the grief that accompanies the loss of a child.

In 2022, she opened up about coping with the death of her son, Jack, after she underwent a life-saving abortion. "Two years ago, when I was pregnant with Jack, John and my third child, I had to make a lot of difficult and heartbreaking decisions," Teigen said during an appearance at Propper Daley's "A Day of Unreasonable Conversation" summit (via ET). "It became very clear around halfway through that he would not survive, and that I wouldn't either without any medical intervention."

Sadly, a number of Teigen's peers can relate to this devastating experience. It has been said that losing a child can be the worst kind of pain ever inflicted on a parent. No one knows that better than the following celebrities, who each lost a child through one tragic circumstance after the next. Read on to learn more about these truly heartbreaking events.

John Travolta

John Travolta and Kelly Preston's eldest son, Jett Travolta, died at the age of 16 while the family was vacationing at their home in the Bahamas in 2009, according to The Mirror. Rumors swirled over the cause of Jett's death, due in part to accusations that John played a role in the tragedy. According to The U.S. Sun, the actor claimed that an ambulance driver threatened to allege that he was responsible for his own son's death if he didn't send over money. Jett's official death certificate eventually concluded that he died after suffering a seizure. During a 2014 interview at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in central London (via BBC News), John revealed just how devastating Jett's death was. "The truth is, I didn't know if I was going to make it," he admitted. "Life was no longer interesting to me, so it took a lot to get me better."

He added that it was the people of Scientology who ultimately helped him to recover emotionally. "I will forever be grateful to Scientology for supporting me for two years solid, I mean Monday through Sunday," he said. "They didn't take a day off, working through different angles of the techniques to get through grief and loss, and to make me feel that finally I could get through a day."

Anna Nicole Smith

Another celebrity who tragically lost a child in the Bahamas was Anna Nicole Smith, whose 20-year-old son, Daniel Smith, died from a mix of prescription drugs in 2006, mere days after Anna Nicole welcomed her first daughter, Dannielynn Birkhead, into the world. Daniel was in the Bahamas to visit his mother and newborn sister at the time of his death, per Reuters. According to CBS News, Anna Nicole and her then-partner, Howard K. Stern, were interviewed for ET regarding the tragedy. Stern recalled the moment he and Anna Nicole discovered Daniel wasn't breathing. "Well, I remember Anna saying 'Howard, Howard, wake up! Daniel's not breathing!'" he said. "I went over and checked his neck, and I didn't feel anything and we immediately called the nurse." Anna Nicole went on to add, "I don't understand why God took him and didn't take me."

Less than a year after this devastating loss, the former "Playboy" Playmate also died from a similar combination of prescription drugs in her Hollywood, Florida, hotel room. She was 39. CNN reported (via People) that Stern revealed Anna Nicole was buried next to her son Daniel. "Anna and Daniel were inseparable," Stern said. "Daniel was without question the most important person in Anna's life. From the time I met her, everything was for Daniel." According to CNN, Stern and two of Anna Nicole's doctors were later charged with conspiring to furnish controlled substances and other felonies in relation to her death. 

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).

Bobby Brown

Rapper Bobby Brown is still grieving over the loss of his daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, who died on July 26, 2015, about six months after she was found unresponsive in a bathtub in her Georgia home. She had been kept on life support following the incident and was later moved to a rehab facility. She spent her last days in hospice care. According to People, a medical examiner revealed that Bobbi died of both drug use and drowning. The examiner shared a statement with People that read: "The underlying cause of death is the condition which starts the downhill course of events leading to death and in this case is the immersion associated with drug intoxication. The pneumonia and encephalopathy are more immediate causes which resulted from the immersion and drug intoxication."

Bobby shared a statement with Billboard regarding Bobbi Kristina's tragic death. "Krissy was and is an angel. I am completely numb at this time," the 46-year-old singer said of his 22-year-old daughter he helped raise with his late wife, Whitney Houston. "My family must find a way to live with her in spirit and honor her memory. Our loss is unimaginable." Bobbi Kristina's untimely death eerily mirrored her mother's. You might recall that Whitney Houston died in 2012 after drowning in a bathtub. Reports revealed that drug use played a role in the singer's death as well.

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).

Marie Osmond

Tragedy struck the Osmond family in 2010 when Marie Osmond's 18-year-old son, Michael Blosil, died by suicide after jumping from the eighth floor of his Los Angeles apartment building. Osmond discussed the pain of losing her son during an interview on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." She revealed that she had talked to him about some of his hardships the day before his death. "It was the first time I heard him start to cry and say he was alone," Osmond said of Blosil. "That he had no friends. That he felt despair."

The star went on to share that she had her own experiences with depression, so she may have understood her son's struggles. "When I had postpartum [depression], I remember vividly driving that car and thinking ... how people would be better off without me," Osmond said during the interview. "I really believed that." She went on to share that her son may not yet have had the tools to push through those thoughts because of his age. "It was my age that told me: 'Marie, that's crazy,'" Osmond said. "Children don't have that kind of age behind them. ... When they're 18, everything [seems] hopeless." In a separate interview with Katie Couric, the star revealed that she was able to find peace in knowing that she tells her children she loves them at the end of every conversation.

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)​.

Eric Clapton

Widely considered one of the greatest songs of all time, Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven" was actually inspired by the shocking death of his 4-year-old son, Conor Clapton, who fell to his death from the 53rd floor of a New York City apartment building in 1991. Eric later spoke to "60 Minutes" about the death of his son, saying that writing and playing music was ultimately his way of dealing with the tragedy. "The key thing that I learnt about life from the death of my son was that we only have this moment. That we don't have tomorrow. Tomorrow doesn't exist and you can ... and anything can happen even before the sun sets," he said. The musician went on to reveal that he was shocked to discover that "Tears in Heaven" resonated with so many people.

According to AP News, Eric revealed shortly after Conor's death that the window he fell through was left open by cleaning staff. "Conor ran straight across the room, not seeing the window open and tripped," the singer shared. Still, he wasn't upset at the employee for the unfortunate accident. ″It couldn't be anybody's fault — even the man who opened the window," he said. "I don't know if he knew there was a child in the apartment, so he can't be held to blame."

Mary Tyler Moore

In a horrible twist of fate, Mary Tyler Moore's 24-year-old son, Richie Meeker, died after accidentally shooting himself in the head with a shotgun, The Washington Post reported. The death was especially eerie, as it happened about a month after the release of the Oscar-winning film, "Ordinary People," in which Moore played a mother grappling with the death of her son.

Author Herbie J. Pilato, who wrote a book about the late actor's life titled "Mary: The Mary Tyler Moore Story," spoke with Fox News about the insensitive rumors surrounding Meeker's death. "Some talk of suicide, but she herself denied it," Pilato said of Moore's response to this speculation. "He apparently collected guns and accidentally shot himself the same year. It was incredibly tragic." The author went on to discuss what Meeker was like in his day-to-day life. "A colleague of mine actually worked with Richie at CBS. It seemed like everything was fine in his life. He never seemed like an unhappy person. But the whole suicide aspect became an unfortunate rumor when he died." Just two years prior to Meeker's death, Moore lost her sister, Elizabeth Ann Moore, per The Washington Post. Her death was ruled a suicide.

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)​.

Joe Biden

U.S. President Joe Biden's elder son, Beau Biden, died in May 2015 after battling brain cancer at the age of 46. This was the second time the former senator had lost a child; his 13-month-old daughter, Naomi Biden, was killed alongside his first wife, Neilia Biden, in a car accident in 1972. Following Beau's death, the then-vice president released a statement on behalf of his grieving family. "The entire Biden family is saddened beyond words," he said. "We know that Beau's spirit will live on in all of us, especially through his brave wife, Hallie, and two remarkable children, Natalie and Hunter." He went on to detail a few of Beau's many accomplishments, including his work as a lawyer and his time in the Delaware National Guard.

In 2012, the then-vice president reflected on the death of his daughter, Naomi, and his late wife, Neilia, while speaking at a Memorial Day event hosted by the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). "For the first time in my life, I understood how someone could consciously decide to commit suicide," he said of how he was impacted by the tragedy. "Not because they were deranged, not because they were nuts, because they'd been to the top of the mountain and they just knew in their heart they'd never get there again, that it was ... never going to be that way ever again. That's how an awful lot of you feel."

Sylvester Stallone

"Rocky" legend Sylvester Stallone's eldest son, Sage Stallone, died of a heart attack in July 2012, after reportedly battling heart disease for years. Sylvester shared a statement with TMZ following his son's death. "When a parent loses a child there is no greater pain," the actor said. "Therefore I am imploring people to respect my talented son's memory and feel compassion for his loving mother Sasha. This agonizing loss will be felt for the rest of our lives. Sage was our first child and the center of our universe and I am humbly begging for all to have my son's memory and soul left in peace."

Sage's mother, Sasha Czack, speculated that a recent dental surgery may have contributed to her son's death. She shared that he had five teeth extracted and was on pain medication following the procedures. "I told him not to do that," the grieving mother told the New York Post. "I've heard about people dying having multiple procedures done to your mouth. Do not have more than one tooth [pulled]." Like his father, Sage was also an actor. He had even directed a number of films prior to his passing. "He was a full of life filmmaker with his whole future ahead of him," Sage's lawyer, George Braunstein, told The Guardian. "He was just very up and enthusiastic and positive."

Paul Newman

Alan Scott Newman (who went by Scott), the eldest child and only son of Oscar-winning actor Paul Newman, died on November 20, 1978, of an accidental overdose of alcohol and Valium. His body was found in a Ramada Inn hotel in west Los Angeles. Paul subsequently created the Scott Newman Foundation in Scott's honor, a charity designed to produce anti-drug abuse films. This foundation later became the Los Angeles-based Paul Newman Center, which provides resources on substance abuse education to the public, per the Los Angeles Times.

In Paul's memoir, "Paul Newman: The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man," he revealed that he knew about his son's drug use early on. "I kept thinking he was going through a phase of adolescent bad judgment," the actor shared (via People). "I never thought it would be fatal." Paul thought his son may have felt pressure to keep up with his father's level of success and fame. "Was there some way I might have told him he didn't have to be like me?" he wondered in the book. "That he didn't have to do macho things and could just be himself?" The actor also wrote about feeling guilt regarding his son's death.

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).

Mike Tyson

Boxing legend Mike Tyson's 4-year-old daughter, Exodus Tyson, died in May 2009 after accidentally hanging herself on a treadmill cord inside her Phoenix home. According to ABC News, Exodus was found by her 7-year-old brother. Her mother sadly wasn't in the room prior to when the accident occurred because she was cleaning in a different room. Exodus died after being transported to a nearby hospital.

In a 2011 interview on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," Mike spoke about the raw pain he felt after learning of Exodus' death, admitting, "I'm pretty enraged, just torn apart. When I went to the hospital when she was on the machine ... and I'm anticipating — cause I'm probably coming down from a hangover — but I'm anticipating to go to the hospital and raise hell. But once I got there and I just saw other people there who either had children who had already died or they were dying, and they were handling it with dignity and I didn't want to be the psycho parent up there. I wanted to handle it with dignity as well."

Dr. Dre

Producer Dr. Dre has endured a number of tragic losses throughout his life. The hip-hop legend had to deal with the deaths of two brothers, and years later, he was left to grieve the passing of his son. The Los Angeles Times reported a spokesman for the Los Angeles County coroner revealed that Dr. Dre's son, Andre Young Jr., died of an accidental overdose. "This case has been closed, it's been ruled an accident due to morphine and heroin intoxication," the coroner's office told People. The 20-year-old was found unresponsive by his mother, Jenita Porter, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Dr. Dre remained quiet about the tragedy at the time and instead had publicist, Lori Earl, issue a statement about Young Jr.'s death. Earl told the Los Angeles Times, "Dr. Dre is mourning the loss of his son Andre Young Jr. Please respect his family's grief and privacy at this time." The music producer later opened up about grieving the deaths of loved ones in an interview with The Times (via Hollywood.com). "I've been actually asked to talk about it and go to therapy and what have you, but I'm not sure that's something I wanna do," he revealed. "Because I don't think I should change it."

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).

Mia Farrow

Actor Mia Farrow is the mother of 14 children. She adopted seven children and had four children biologically. Sadly, three of the star's 14 kids are no longer living. Farrow took to social media to detail the causes of each of her children's deaths, because she wanted to put an end to the speculation that surfaced following HBO's "Allen v. Farrow" documentary, according to NBC News. The documentary focused on claims of sexual abuse and grooming surrounding Farrow's ex, director Woody Allen.

Farrow's Twitter statement that addressed the rumors read, in part, "My beloved daughter Tam passed away at 17 from an accidental prescription overdose related to the agonizing migraines she suffered, and her heart ailment. My daughter Lark was an extraordinary woman, a wonderful daughter, sister, partner, and mother to her own children. She died at 35 from complications of HIV/AIDS, which she contracted from a previous partner." The actor went on to explain that her son, Thaddeus, died by suicide at age 29. Twitter users comforted Farrow after she shared the heartbreaking message. "So many losses, but also so much joy," one user wrote in response to the actor's tweet. "You show up for life unconditionally. You are extraordinary, Ms. Farrow."

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)​.

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).

Pierce Brosnan

Movie star Pierce Brosnan has been open about grieving the death of his daughter, Charlotte Brosnan. Pierce adopted Charlotte after marrying her mother, Cassandra Harris, and after her biological father died. Charlotte died of ovarian cancer at age 41 just years after her mother lost her life to the same illness. In 2013, Pierce shared a statement with People regarding his daughter's tragic death. "Charlotte fought her cancer with grace and humanity, courage and dignity," he shared. "Our hearts are heavy with the loss of our beautiful dear girl. We pray for her and that the cure for this wretched disease will be close at hand soon." Seven years later, Pierce took to Instagram to share a post commemorating his late daughter and celebrating his granddaughter, Marley May. The actor wrote, "Here's looking at you kid... in remembrance of Charlotte and with happy birthday wishes for my darling Marley May."

The "Tomorrow Never Dies" star became an advocate after he lost Charlotte and Harris to ovarian cancer. He made an appearance during a 2014 Stand Up To Cancer event and opened up about how cancer impacted his family. "I held the generous, strong, beautiful hand of my first wife Cassie as ovarian cancer took her life much too soon," he said during his emotional speech. "And just last year, I held the hand of my funny, wonderful daughter Charlotte before she, too, died from this wretched, inherited disease." 

Jack Wagner

"General Hospital" actor Jack Wagner's son, Harrison Wagner, was pronounced dead after being found in a parking lot in Hollywood in June 2022. Jack later revealed that his son's drug use led to his untimely death. The actor and his wife, Kristina Wagner, collaborated with sober living community New Life House to establish the Harrison Wagner Scholarship Fund in honor of their son. "Harrison was a bright, exuberant young man whose smile lit up any room he was in," the family shared on the scholarship's webpage. "He has left behind many men and family members who loved him deeply. We are heartbroken that he ultimately lost his battle with addiction and we hope that Harrison's memory will live on through this scholarship and will help other young men get help for their addiction that would not otherwise be able to afford it."

Jack Wagner fans might remember that Harrison's drug and alcohol use came to the forefront when he went missing in 2016. "I fear for my youngest sons safety," Jack wrote in a tweet at the time. "Harrison has struggled w drugs & alcohol just as I did when I was younger. He's relapsed & is MIA 5days." The actor later took to Twitter to share that his son had been found, but sadly, it seems that wasn't the end of Harrison's struggles.

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).

Regina King

Actor Regina King often spoke about how much her late son, Ian Alexander Jr., meant to her. She once told People, "You don't know what unconditional love is. You may say you do, but if you don't have a child, you don't know what that is. When you experience it, it's the most fulfilling [thing] ever." Given how close the mother and son were, it might be safe to say that King was heartbroken when Alexander Jr. died by suicide in January 2022. She shared a statement with People following his tragic death. "Our family is devastated at the deepest level by the loss of Ian," King told the outlet. "He is such a bright light who cared so deeply about the happiness of others. Our family asks for respectful consideration during this private time. Thank you."

Alexander Jr. opened up about some of his struggles shortly before his passing. In January 2022, he tweeted, "I don't think instagram is healthy for me." The talented young man worked as a DJ, according to CNN. He was also a musician and had released new music just weeks before his death. Alexander Jr. made it clear that he valued his relationship with his mother. In 2021, he took to Instagram to share a lengthy message for King's birthday. "To be all that you are while always having the time to be there, love and support me unconditionally is truly remarkable," the musician wrote in part.

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)​.

Granger Smith

Country music star Granger Smith took to Instagram in 2019 to share devastating news with his fans. "We've lost our youngest son, River Kelly Smith. Following a tragic accident, and despite doctor's best efforts, he was unable to be revived," Granger wrote in part. "Amber and I made the decision to say our last goodbyes and donate his organs so that other children will be given a second chance at life." River died after drowning in the family pool, and the Smith family have since become advocates for children's water safety.

Granger spoke to People about learning how unexpectedly quiet drowning can be. "It's not like the movies," he said. "To comprehend that you could lose someone to drowning 20 feet from you doesn't make any sense unless you know how that process works and that it's so silent. There isn't splashing or gurgling or kicking. There wasn't even a splash going in." The Smith family continues to remember and honor River in the years after his death. Granger's wife, Amber Smith, took to Instagram to share a heartfelt message on the three-year anniversary of their son's death in June 2022. She recalled a touching moment during River's funeral. "Toward the end of the service someone noticed a tiny rainbow in the sky in June in Texas," she wrote in part. "God was with us reminding us of His promise and presence despite the hardship and difficulties that we face in this broken world."

Nick Cannon

Nick Cannon first broke the news of his 5-month-old son's devastating death during an episode of "The Nick Cannon Show." Cannon said that Zen, whom he welcomed with model Alyssa Scott in June 2021, died of brain cancer. Dr. Joffre E. Olaya, a pediatric neurosurgeon who treated the infant, spoke to People about his high-grade gliomas. Olaya revealed that these tumors, which are found in the brain and spinal cord, are difficult to treat because of how quickly they spread. Cannon also spoke to People about noticing signs of Zen's illness in the beginning. "It sounded like he had fluid in his lungs, like a sinus infection or something," he explained. "[The doctors] didn't think it to be anything too concerning."

Cannon went on to share that he and Scott went into action after receiving Zen's diagnosis. "We started asking, 'Is there a way to prevent this? If not, how long do we have?'" he shared. "The conversations quickly turned to, 'How can we give him the best life for the time that he does have?' It could be weeks, it could be months, it could be years." The star revealed they decided to make Zen's last moments special. "We focused on Disneyland, our favorite place," he said. "Every month we would celebrate his birthday, just really seeing it as a victory every time he had a milestone that he was still here with us." Cannon and Scott spent their final moments with Zen at the beach.

Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee's son, Brandon Lee, lost his life in a tragic accident that took place on the set of the 1993 film "The Crow." According to History.com, Brandon was killed while filming a shooting scene. The gun used should have been filled with blanks, but an investigation revealed that Brandon was shot with a real bullet. Filming of "The Crow" continued after the actor's untimely death using a double in the scenes he was set to appear in. You might recall that a similar tragedy took place on the set of the film "Rust" when Alec Baldwin unknowingly used a prop gun that contained real bullets. Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed in the incident.

Brandon's fiancée, Eliza Hutton, spoke out about the "Rust" accident that likely brought back dark memories for her. "Twenty eight years ago, I was shattered by the shock and grief of losing the love of my life, Brandon Lee, so senselessly," she told People. "My heart aches again now for Halyna Hutchins' husband and son, and for all those left in the wake of this avoidable tragedy. I urge those in positions to make change to consider alternatives to real guns on sets."

Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby experienced the deaths of two children. NBC News reported that his daughter, Ensa Cosby, died of kidney disease at age 44 in February 2018. Following the tragedy, spokesperson Andrew Wyatt told the outlet, "Please keep the Cosby family in your prayers and give them peace at this time. Thank you." Back in 1997, Bill's son, Ennis W. Cosby, was fatally shot in a robbery. Ennis' killer, Mikail Markhasev, was found guilty of first-degree murder and attempted robbery in 1998, according to The New York Times.

Bill's wife, Camille Cosby, spoke out about Ennis' death in an op-ed she wrote for USA Today. She suggested she believed her son was targeted because of his race. "I believe America taught our son's killer to hate African-Americans," Camille penned. "Presumably, Markhasev did not learn to hate black people in his native country, the Ukraine, where the black population was near zero." She went on to share more about the realities of racism in the United States. "All African-Americans, regardless of their educational and economic accomplishments, have been and are at risk in America simply because of their skin colors," the grieving mother wrote. "Sadly, my family and I experienced that to be one of America's racial truths."

Keanu Reeves

Keanu Reeves began dating Jennifer Syme in 1998, and sadly, the couple's relationship ended in tragedy. Their daughter, Ava Archer Syme-Reeves, was stillborn. Reeves faced another hardship when Syme was killed in a car accident just one year later. The accident occurred after she had left musician Marilyn Manson's party, according to The U.S. Sun. Syme reportedly drove herself back to the party while intoxicated and crashed into parked cars.

Reeves opened up about dealing with grief during a 2006 interview with Parade (via People). "Grief changes shape, but it never ends," he explained. "People have a misconception that you can deal with it and say, 'It's gone, and I'm better.' They're wrong. When the people you love are gone, you're alone." The actor went on to share how he feels about losing loved ones. "I miss being a part of their lives and them being a part of mine. I wonder what the present would be like if they were here — what we might have done together. I miss all the great things that will never be." Reeves has since found love with artist Alexandra Grant. The two were friends for years before things turned romantic. Reeves and Grant went public with their relationship in 2019 when they walked the LACMA Art + Film Gala red carpet together, per Elle.