Tragic Details About Nick Cannon

The following article references suicide.

Nick Cannon has touched multiple facets of entertainment in his career, which not every person on TV can say. First, he joined a rap group as a teenager and inked a deal with Jive Records. He also appeared in comedy shows as a young person like Nickelodeon's "All That," as well as "Kenan & Kel." He then landed his own series on the network in 2002, "The Nick Cannon Show." Movies eventually came, as did more albums, and TV hosting jobs. From a distance one could think that Cannon has lived nothing short of a charmed life.

But in actuality, he's faced a number of challenges since being a youngster and also had his fair share of uphill battles as an adult. Some of those problems have been related to his career, whereas others have been about personal matters. Here are the complicated, controversial, and tragic ups and downs of Nick Cannon's life.

His parents split when he was young

To start, we're certainly not saying that a child can't have a wonderful, amazing life in a single-parent household or when a former couple co-parents in different homes. But going back and forth between houses — especially when those houses are thousands of miles apart — isn't always easy on a young kid. Per Biography, Nick Cannon, his folks, James Cannon and Beth Gardner, split when he was just a young boy. His mom, who worked as an accountant, left California for North Carolina. His father, a televangelist, stayed West, so Nick spent a lot of his childhood traveling the 2,524 some odd miles that exist between both states.

Nick's parents had him when they were in high school, which Nick talked about on VladTV in 2018. Nick, who's the eldest of five boys, also said that his grandmother had a huge hand in raising him due to his parents being so young. "My grandmother was the matriarch of the family. Her other daughters were like my sisters," he explained. In that same interview, the "Wild 'N Out" host said that he maintained a close relationship with his dad and hired him to work at his Nick Cannon Foundation.

As a kid, Nick Cannon saw his friends die

Nick Cannon wears a bunch of different hats in the entertainment industry, but in his hometown, he could've worn a red hat to represent the Bloods street gang. He grew up in San Diego's tough Lincoln Park neighborhood, known to be heavy gang territory in the '80s and '90s, and his father, James Cannon, is one of the founding members of the Lincoln Park Bloods. "My dad is certified ... I never glorified it," Nick said on VladTV in 2018. In an earlier interview with host DJ Vlad, Nick said that although he was affiliated with the Bloods in his neighborhood, he was never a full-on member because he tried his best to avoid gang life altogether. "I got out of it unscathed," he explained. "I lost a lot of friends."

Nick went into more detail about what encouraged him to avoid being a member during a 2015 interview with SF Weekly. "I started seeing my friends die, get killed, shot at parties or on the way to school," he recalled. "After a few times getting shot at myself, I said, 'You know what? I need to do something else.' Luckily I had entertainment to fall back on."

Nick Cannon was accused of perpetuating stereotypes

In 2014, Nick Cannon's portrayal of a white character named Connor Smallnut got a lot of attention. To promote his album "White People Party Music," he put white make-up on his face, took some pictures, and posted the content on his Instagram. "It's official ... I'm White!!!" he scribed next to the now-deleted Instagram post. "#GoodCredit #DogKissing #BeerPong #FarmersMarkets #FistPumping #CreamCheeseEating."  

"Nick white face is just as offensive as black face," one offended Twitter user commented. Some also said since it's wrong for white people to appear in blackface, the same should apply to Cannon. But "The Masked Singer" host defended the character during a stop at "Good Morning America," where he noted that wearing white and blackface just aren't the same. "They're using this term 'whiteface,' like, I don't even know what that is," Cannon said (via ABC News). "I know 'blackface' was a term that was created in 1869 to describe offensive minstrel shows. 'Whiteface,' if you look it up and Google it, it's a ski slope in upstate New York. I was doing a character impression. Blackface is about oppression ... There's a big difference between humor and hatred." Cannon echoed these sentiments when speaking with HelloBeautiful about the controversy. "There's a big difference between impression and oppression, so if people don't understand that, I have no words for them," he said. "The conversation is over."

Eventually, the backlash fizzled out and it was on to the next pop culture dispute.

The grandfather who raised Nick Cannon died

Like his grandmother, Nick Cannon's grandfather James Cannon Sr. was a monumental figure in his life. As the actor shared on VladTV, his folks had him when they were still kids, so his paternal grandparents took on the day-to-day parenting responsibilities while his mom and dad were transitioning into adults. In May of 2016, James Sr. died of an unknown ailment, which Nick spoke about with ABC News.

"It's obviously something that no one wants to see coming and wants to deal with, but I don't think it could've been done in a better fashion," said Nick about his granddad. "We had the opportunity — I call it the fortunate opportunity — to know that this was coming. We had a lot of interesting conversations that a lot of people don't get the opportunity to [have] with someone who knows they're about to make that transition." 

And when Nick first shared news of his grandfather's death, he displayed the same positive outlook, despite his grief. "And they ask where I get it from! LOL. Love you Pops!" he wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post shared by Essence. "I feel you already! To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. It's a celebration! #Universe #Vibrations #UndyingSpirit." 

Nick Cannon has had some health scares

The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine defines lupus as "An autoimmune disorder [that] can cause inflammation throughout your body, including in your joints, skin, blood vessels and organs." Women are disproportionately affected by the incurable disease, with only 10 percent of men getting it. It so happens that Nick Cannon is among the smaller percentage of men who have lupus, which he learned after suffering from acute renal failure. He underwent surgery for the illness in January 2012, per The Hollywood Reporter. Then the next month, Cannon shared on 92.3 NOW (via Daily News) that he'd been diagnosed with an enlarged heart as well as blood clots in his lungs. He spoke to People soon after that and said the renal failure was related to his lupus diagnosis, while the kidney failure caused the blood clots. 

"The blood clot thing was probably the scariest," Cannon explained. "I thought I was getting better and then that happened, so that kind of came out of nowhere... I feel blessed to be alive. If it wasn't discovered, I don't know [what the outcome would have been]." But that wasn't the last time the California native had a health scare related to lupus, as he was hospitalized again in 2016 after having a flare-up. "For all who have been trying to contact me the last few days this is where I've been," Cannon wrote to his fans on social media. "And I will be in the hospital through Christmas."

Nick Cannon felt compelled to quit a lucrative job

Nick Cannon began hosting NBC's "America's Got Talent" in 2009, but by 2017 he was out the door — and he was the one who made the call. So, why did Cannon quit the seemingly cushy job that Celebrity Net Worth says eventually paid him $70,000 per episode? It all had to do with some jokes he made in his Showtime comedy special "Stand Up, Don't Shoot," which aired in 2017. The Hollywood Reporter shared some of the routine, which finds Cannon uttering a racial epithet and NBC in the same sentence. Actually, in several sentences. He also accused the network of changing his image and making it harder for him to be controversial on the comedy stage. 

"I was to be punished for a joke," wrote Cannon on his Facebook page (via The Hollywood Reporter). "It was brought to my attention by my 'team' that NBC believed that I was in breach of contract because I had disparaged their brand ... I will not be silenced, controlled or treated like a piece of property. There is no amount of money worth my dignity or my integrity."

Cannon spoke to Entertainment Tonight's Kevin Frazier about quitting "AGT" and said money just doesn't fuel his decisions. "When people start to put restraints on my creativity as an artist I just have to stand on my square and stand for something," he stated. "Money isn't one of the things that moves me or inspires me."

The feud with Eminem that stuck around

Did Eminem and Mariah Carey ever date? According to Eminem, they did; the "Emotions" singer says otherwise. Their different accounts sparked an all-out war. It started when Eminem dissed Carey in his 2009 song "Bagpipes From Baghdad." In that track, he also insulted Nick Cannon, who was married to Carey at the time. Following the release of the song, Cannon hopped on Tumblr (via Billboard) and implied that he would beat up the "8 Mile" rhymer, writing "It's going to take a corny, wack rapping, boy toy from Nickelodeon to set you straight." And who can forget Carey's Eminem diss track "Obsessed," which has lyrics like, "We never were so why you trippin'? / You a mom and pop, I'm a corporation / I'm the press conference, you a conversation."

The Cannon and Eminem feud was rekindled in 2019 after Cannon spoke about it on T.I.'s podcast "ExpediTIously." During the interview, Cannon said he was eager to defend his ex-wife's honor during the fight, and Eminem fired off a response on rapper Fat Joe's song "Lord Above." Eminem's verse includes lines like "Almost got my caboose kicked? / Fool, quit / You not gonna do s**t." 

Cannon addressed Em's verse on social media before dropping his song "The Invitation," then another cut called "Canceled: Invitation." But in October 2021, Cannon shared on his talk show that he and Eminem mended their differences with Fat Joe's help. It looks like that presumably exhausting mess is water under the bridge.

He made anti-Semitic remarks on a podcast

"I wanted to show people I was smart." That's the reason Nick Cannon gave when the AP asked why he made anti-Semitic remarks on his "Cannon's Class" podcast in 2020. The comments, which came up while he was speaking to former Public Enemy member Professor Griff, created a firestorm. During his conversation with Griff — who was fired from Public Enemy after making disparaging remarks about the Jewish community in a 1989 interview — Cannon perpetuated Jewish stereotypes and conspiracy theories. ViacomCBS, the company that backs the MTV show "Wild "N Out," fired Cannon.

"ViacomCBS condemns bigotry of any kind and we categorically denounce all forms of anti-Semitism," said ViacomCBS in a statement published by Deadline. "While we support ongoing education and dialogue in the fight against bigotry, we are deeply troubled that Nick has failed to acknowledge or apologize for perpetuating anti-Semitism, and we are terminating our relationship with him."

After slamming ViacomCBS for firing him, Cannon said he wanted sole ownership of "Wild "N Out." But he later did an about-face and apologized to the Jewish community, writing that his words "Reinforced the worst stereotypes of a proud and magnificent people." As Variety reported, he also spoke with Jewish leaders to gain a better understanding of why his words were so wrong, while temporarily stepping away from his radio hosting duties on Power 106. But in February of 2021, Page Six reported that Cannon was re-hired by ViacomCBS and "Wild "N Out would return.

Nick Cannon's friend died by suicide

Nick Cannon certainly had better years for himself than 2020. Because on top of dealing with the pandemic like the rest of the world, he was swimming in backlash over his anti-Semitic remarks. "I hurt an entire community and it pained me to my core, I thought it couldn't get any worse," he tweeted on July 16, 2020. "Then I watched my own community turn on me and call me a sell-out for apologizing. Goodnight. Enjoy Earth🙏🏾💙."

Days after that heavy tweet went up, Cannon's world was rocked. Ryan Bowers, a rapper who was signed to Cannon's company Ncredible Entertainment, died by suicide on July 18, 2020 at age 24. "Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse... 2020 is definitely the most f***ed up year I've ever witnessed," wrote Cannon next to a photo of him and Bowers together. "I've said it once and I will say it again, this was the strongest dude I've ever met! " Cannon also alluded to his own struggles, recalling "barely rising from my own dark contemplation of continuing my physical existence on this planet." He has since deleted the post.

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

Nick Cannon's family dynamic has been criticized

As of this writing, Nick Cannon has seven children with four different women, four of them born within 10 months. And while some have said there's nothing wrong with that, others have hurled criticism at him. Cannon has twins with his ex-wife Mariah Carey, Moroccan Monroe. He also has a son named Golden and a daughter named Powerful Queen with former 2010 Miss Arizona winner Brittany Bell. Plus, he has another set of twins, Zion and Zillion with Abby de la Rosa, a DJ. Then in 2021, Cannon's son Zen arrived, whose mother is model Alyssa Scott.

His less traditional family setup has raised eyebrows. "Leaving kids fatherless all over the place hurts the world in general, and it hurts those kids no matter how much money you throw at them," one person commented on YouTube when Cannon stopped by "The Breakfast Club" to answer the criticism. "Anybody who knows me, man, and every single one of my kids, I'm at every basketball game, every martial arts practice, and people don't understand how I do it, but that's literally my children are my priority," he said. Cannon also talked about having kids during a stop at "The Dr. Oz Show" in November of 2021. 

"I don't know how I'll feel in five years," he shared when asked about whether he'll have any more children or not. "I don't know if I'm going to find love again ... You never understand what the universe is going to present to you."

Nick Cannon's son died

Some heartbreaking news about Nick Cannon's family broke on December 7, 2021. That day, the TV host shared his son Zen Scott Cannon died of a brain tumor at five months old. "Over the weekend, I lost my youngest son to a condition called hydrocephalus that was pretty much a malignant, invasive midline brain tumor, brain cancer," he said on "The Nick Cannon Show."

Before Cannon shared the tragic news, he explained that he first thought Zen had a sinus issue. But he and Zen's mom were later told there was fluid, which required surgery. Zen was doing okay for a while after the procedure, however, his condition worsened on Thanksgiving 2021. Cannon, who was in tears as he spoke, said he held his son for the last time a few days after, and he spoke about Zen's mother as well. "Zen's mom Alyssa [Scott] ... was like the strongest woman I've ever seen," he explained. "Never had an argument, never was angry, was emotional when she needed to be but was always the best mom. Scott honored Zen in an Instagram post on Wednesday, December 8, writing "It has been an honor and privilege being your mommy. I will love you for eternity."