Who is Kyle Chrisley? The troubled life of Todd Chrisley's son explained

Chrisley Knows Best is a smash hit for USA Network. Premiering in 2014 and spooling out over eight seasons, the reality show follows the everyday antics of millionaire real estate mogul Todd Chrisley, his wife Julie, and their children, with Todd's mother Nanny Faye providing frequent comic relief. Todd's well-meaning meddling into his family's lives often manifests as manic control-freaking, and there's never an issue, event, or controversy that he can't comment on with some southern-fried sass or homespun patriarchal hokum. Audiences love it, and Chrisley is a perennial ratings winner.

While Todd and Julie's grown children Savannah and Chase and their young son Grayson have remained series constants, the cast has also included Todd's children from his first marriage, Lindsie and Kyle. In season one, Kyle, then 23, was struggling with substance abuse issues, and longed to be a better father to his infant daughter Chloe; by season two, Chloe was living full-time with her grandparents, and Kyle had disappeared from the show entirely.

Chrisley Knows Best certainly portrays a family living a life of wealth and ease. But Todd and his brood haven't been immune to the adversity and personal hardships that test so many individuals and American families. What happened to Kyle? Here's the explanation.

Todd Chrisley randomly drug-tested Kyle Chrisley

During the first season of Chrisley Knows Best, which aired in 2014, Todd Chrisley was attempting to keep his oldest son, Kyle Chrisley, on the straight and narrow with a system of randomized weekly drug tests. He also detailed the serious cash he'd invested in rehab stays and tough love "wilderness programs." But as TMZ revealed, Todd had learned something about his oldest son. "I had come to the realization that the money wasn't going to save you," he told Kyle. "You had to save you."

Unable to let a chance for folksy sass pass by, Todd went on to say that he wasn't sent to this earth to "wipe a 23-year-old's a**." Tough love indeed!

Kyle's efforts to stay clean provided some poignance for a reality show that, despite its hijinks and depiction of the luxe life, is at its core about family bonds and the challenge of raising kids. Still, Kyle was ultimately a footnote. He left the show after its debut season, even as his baby daughter Chloe became a full-time member of the family when Todd and Julie were granted full custody. Tough love wasn't working.

Kyle Chrisley drops a bomb on Todd Chrisley

In October 2014, as season two of Chrisley kicked off, Kyle Chrisley dropped a bomb on Todd Chrisley with a scathing interview in the Daily Mail. "My dad is all about control," he told the paper, adding, "He's a snake." Kyle explained how Todd had received legal guardianship over his son when he was 18 and admittedly an addict. He told the Mail he was now clean and sober, and that he'd married a woman named Alexus (Lexi). But he also said his father wielded undue financial and emotional control over him, and had effectively ended contact between him and baby Chloe.

"My dad showed no interest at all in Chloe until the show and until it was pointed out that having a mixed-race child and getting her and all that would be good for his demographic."

The Daily Mail went on to detail Todd and Julie Chrisley's ongoing financial woes concerning the bankruptcy proceedings which had forced them to sell their suburban Atlanta mansion. From Kyle's perspective, that this wasn't portrayed on Chrisley Knows Best proved that his father was leading a "fairy-tale existence," and that he shouldn't be believed.

In response, Todd Chrisley tweeted, "My son Kyle is bipolar, he suffers from mental illness, he will struggle for life, Yes, the Daily mail prayed [sic] on this to sell a story.."

And on season two of Chrisley, a Father's Day-themed episode featured a family photo with everyone in it except for Kyle. 

'Kyle is running,' and wanted for assault

Only days after the Daily Mail piece and its Twitter fallout, Kyle Chrisley appeared to be in even more trouble than had been widely known. R Online reported that he was on the run, and wanted for assault. "Kyle is running," his ex-girlfriend (and mother of Chloe) Angela Johnson told the tab, adding, "He's staying clear of me and his mom and anyone who would tell the police where he is."

Radar continued that the Sheriff's Office of Anderson County, S.C. had issued domestic violence and assault and battery warrants for Kyle after a February 2013 incident in which he allegedly "struck Johnson" and "threatened her [sister] with a knife." Though he had appeared on Chrisley Knows Best and was also said to be living in Georgia with his new wife, the sheriff's department in South Carolina said it couldn't locate Kyle, and that its address information for him was "erroneous."

The scope of Kyle's troubles had only grown wider.  

Kyle Chrisley: deadbeat dad?

By December 2014, R Online was reporting more about Kyle Chrisley's motives. Angela Johnson, his former girlfriend and mother of his child, disputed what Kyle told the Daily Mail about Todd's control over him and Chloe; instead, Johnson told R Online, "I know Todd is not using Chloe just for that TV show," Johnson said, adding, "If it wasn't for Todd, me and Kyle and Chloe would have been on the side of the interstate! Todd and Julie stepped in to help me with Chloe, because Kyle wouldn't do it."  

Johnson also told the tab that Kyle had largely been absent in Chloe's life, and that if he was around her and her daughter at all, it was only to bleed Todd and Julie for cash. "But they wouldn't send him money because they knew what he was doing with that money."

Kyle, meanwhile, was still wanted on the domestic violence charges, and still claimed he was sober, while Todd told E! two months earlier that his son had left Chrisley Knows Best after he wouldn't take his medication on set and became "hostile to the crew." The elder Chrisley also said he hadn't been able to locate his son in months.   

Who decided to end Kyle Chrisley's guardianship?

When Todd Chrisley received legal guardianship over his son in 2009, Kyle Chrisley was 18 and struggling with drug addiction and bipolar disorder — conditions for which he openly admitted his need for support. "He has his struggles," Todd told People in 2014, adding, "As a family, we all continue to lift him up."

With Kyle's ensuing departure from Chrisley Knows Best; the bad blood between father and son; the mother of his child denigrating his character; Todd and Julie Chrisley receiving full custody of his daughter; the outstanding warrants for his arrest; and the evolving narrative of his quest for sobriety, the story had taken enough twists by 2015 to tie itself in knots.

Nevertheless, as R Online reported, a Georgia court ended Todd Chrisley's legal guardianship over Kyle in October 2015. "Having heard from the parties, and having considered the EVALUATOR'S REPORT REGARDING RESTORATION filed August 25, 2015, including 'Psychological Evaluation' attached thereto, the Court finds that the Ward, Mr. Kyle Hayden Chrisley, is no longer in need of guardianship."

The tabloid quoted Todd as suggesting the decision was his. "I want out of this guardianship," the reality TV patriarch claimed, adding, "If the court states that Kyle is no longer in the need of a guardian then God bless him because that means Kyle is cured."

Kyle Chrisley arrested on drug charges

In May 2019, TMZ reported that Kyle had been arrested in Oklahoma on felony drug charges for possession of methamphetamine, and booked into Okmulgee County Jail. The arrest and charges were serious enough, but police also discovered there was an open warrant for Kyle's arrest in Dekalb County, Ga. stemming from alleged death threats Kyle had allegedly made toward his estranged wife, Alexus Chrisley.

As TMZ detailed, a sworn affidavit from Alexus described text messages sent from Kyle in which he allegedly wrote "I'm going to the streets I will get my s**t and take care of this problem with you because if I'm not with you nobody will be. Bye Alexus."

On the same day the TMZ story broke, and in apparent response to Kyle's most recent scrape with the law, Todd Chrisley turned to Twitter, and his Good Book. "I have no room for regret," he wrote, adding, "I won't dim my light so someone else can shine brighter, I am a child of God and he did not build me to break, therefore I stand head held high to serve his purpose."

(On June 10, 2019, TMZ reported that the drug charges against Kyle in Oklahaoma had been dropped in favor of the more weighty charge in Georgia. As to that warrant, TMZ said Kyle was "booked for terroristic threats and released on his own recognizance.")

The Chrisleys turn on each other amidst tax woes

In August 2019, ET reported that a federal grand jury in Atlanta had indicted Todd and Julie Chrisley on charges of tax evasion. The couple pleaded not guilty, they were released on bond, and in a statement to ET their attorneys asserted the Chrisleys' innocence, saying they believed Todd and Julie would be "completely exonerated."

With the tax trouble coming to light, things only got more thorny in the Chrisley universe. In the wake of the indictment, Kyle took to Facebook to renounce his 2017 interview with Good Morning America where he said he wanted Todd "held accountable" for allegations of tax fraud. But he also alleged that it was his biological mother, Teresa Terry, and his sister, Lindsie Chrisley, who were originally responsible for turning Todd into authorities on the tax evasion allegations. 

Kyle, even in defending his father, was turning his ire on another family member.

As E! reported, Lindsie denied Kyle's statements and restated her estrangement from the family. "It was reported that Lindsie was the source of the information that led to her father's arrest," a statement from her attorney read. "That is untrue. She was not the source of this information. Lindsie has been a constant target of lies, harassment and threats from her family and as a result, has been distancing herself from the Chrisley family since 2017."

Even if Chrisley does know best, things seemed to be getting much, much worse. 

Kyle Chrisley changes his tune

Kyle Chrisley's August 2019 Facebook post was eventful. After using it to accuse his sister, Lindsie Chrisley, and their mother, Teresa Terry, of complicity in Todd Chrisley's tax troubles, he had also dismissed his previous statements on the matter as total lies, brought about by his admitted struggle with substance abuse. Kyle also pledged his sobriety, and revealed that his once discordant relationship with Todd was totally mended.

"I've had a problem with drugs, I've acted completely ridiculous and through all that they have stood by my side," Kyle wrote of Todd and Julie Chrisley (above center and left) in the post, adding, "9 months ago I went to my dad with an apology. His words were 'I love you always, and you are forgiven.' And just like that I was welcomed back into his life with open arms."

For fans of Chrisley Knows Best, it was heartening to hear of Kyle turning a corner on his own struggle with addiction, and learn of his welcome return to the family fold.

Kyle continued his post on Facebook with a further note of contrition. "I can't take it back so I'm telling you now, with a clear mind, my mom and dad have done nothing wrong! Today, I am sober, I am working, and I am at a good place in my life."

'NOT TODAY SATAN, NOT TODAY'

The photo posted to Todd Chrisley's Instagram on Aug. 28, 2019 was of a typical American family — Mom, Dad, grandparents, grown children, and the young ones — only this shot featured the extended brood gathered around the hospital bed of Todd's oldest, formerly estranged son Kyle Chrisley. Everyone was all smiles, though, and the bright sun streamed through his recovery room window. "NOT TODAY, SATAN, NOT TODAY..." Todd wrote in the caption. "God shows up and shows out, now won't he do it? Kyle is great and we are back to the grind."

In yet another trying moment in the troubled life of Kyle, a Chrisley family spokesman told People that "he had an adverse reaction to his medication, but as you can see from the photo his father posted on Instagram, he is doing great."

Kyle's hospitalization and the family's visit took place just a few weeks after the revelations about Todd and Julie's indictments and resulting court appearances, and while Kyle was back in the picture, sister Lindsie was notably absent. For her part, the elder Chrisley daughter was content to throw some since-deleted Twitter shade. "Gah, flexing that sympathy card so hard," Bravo reported her writing. "Keep reaching boo."

It's never easy for a family, even when father knows best.

Hope in the face of adversity

It was only a week after Todd Chrisley posted the image of his son in recovery that the family opened up about the startling reasons behind his hospitalization. As Good Morning America reported, Todd and Kyle Chrisley appeared on the Chrisley Confessions podcast "to stamp out rumors," and revealed that Kyle had survived a suicide attempt. "I take medication and I had a bad side effect to it, and I tried to take my own life," Kyle said. 

Todd and Kyle further shared that their wish to publicly share the details of Kyle's plight came from a place of recovery and healing, instead of drama and accusations.

"I will not bury my child," Todd said, and it was a strong sentiment from a father who has always had a way with words. Beyond the lights, luxe, and laughs of Chrisley Knows Best, it summarized the true reality of Kyle Chrisley's arduous journey through addiction and acrimony, to rehabilitation attempts, to estrangement and further turmoil, and ultimately to reconciliation and redemption.

It's important to note that if you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).