Tragic Details About The Knowles Family

Since inking her first record deal in 1997, Beyoncé has been a fixture of the limelight, and her family an entertainment dynasty. Similar to the Jacksons, the Knowleses have achieved superstardom all while still remaining relatively private about their personal lives. 

While we may not know everything there is to know about Bey and her family, we sure do know some key details about the key players. Before she was a household name, matriarch Tina Knowles-Lawson ran a hair salon and eventually designed the glamorous outfits for her eldest daughter's girl group, and Mathew Knowles was the mastermind and manager of his daughters' careers. Both Beyoncé and Solange have enjoyed their own success in music with critical acclaim all while maintaining flawless reputations. 

While the family has achieved a great deal of success, celebrity, and triumph, that is not to say it has always been easy for the Knowleses. Here are some tragic details about the Knowles family that might've flown under your radar. 

Beyoncé struggled after band shakeup

In 2000, just three years after Destiny's Child signed with Columbia Records, LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson were ousted from the group; as Roberson told People, the split "was almost like a bad divorce." Both women alleged that they were dismissed from the band after they requested to part ways with Mathew Knowles as their manager, and they took the matter to court. 

"We saw the 'Say My Name' video on TV, and that's how I found out I was no longer in the group," Roberson recalled in People. The video for the third single off of "The Writing's on the Wall" featured two new members in their spots: Michelle Williams and Farrah Franklin. Destiny's Child successfully moved forward without looking back.

In a 2001 episode of Lifetime's "Intimate Portrait" series, Beyoncé opened up about the lingering impact of the lineup change. "It wasn't just losing a business partner or a group member, it was losing two best friends," she said. "It hurt very, very, very bad. Still, to this day I have dreams about them, I still miss them sometimes." She elaborated further in a 2006 interview with Parade (via Today) about how deep she sunk into depression following Luckett and Roberson's departure and "felt attacked" by the media. "I didn't eat," she said. "I stayed in my room. I was in a really bad place in life, going through that lonely period: 'Who am I? Who are my friends?' My life changed."

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Beyoncé suffered multiple miscarriages

In 2013, Beyoncé fans were in for a treat when she teased a documentary titled "Life Is A But A Dream" and promised an intimate look into her life. One devastating revelation she shared with fans was the miscarriage she suffered two years before the 2013 birth of her daughter Blue Ivy Carter. She and husband Jay-Z were ready to become parents, but then tragedy struck. "I picked out names. I envisioned what my child would look like ... I was feeling very maternal," she said, per Us Weekly. "I flew back to New York to get my checkup — and no heartbeat."

In 2017, Jay-Z released "4:44," a deeply personal album that gets into the ups and downs of his personal life, including the struggles that've impacted his marriage to Beyoncé. The title track is an emotional apology to his wife on which he alludes to multiple pregnancy complications that she experienced: "I apologize for all the stillborns, 'cause I wasn't present, your body wouldn't accept it." 

In a 2019 interview with Elle, she confirmed those miscarriages and revealed that it changed her idea of success. "I learned that all pain and loss is in fact a gift," she said. "Having miscarriages taught me that I had to mother myself before I could be a mother to someone else."

Tina Knowles' nephew died from HIV

Outside of being a supportive mother to her two daughters, Tina Knowles-Lawson also lends her name to important causes. One in particular that means a lot to her is HIV awareness. She openly shared her experience of losing a loved one to HIV/AIDS in a 2020 interview with the Black AIDS Institute. In that interview, Knowles-Lawson discussed her nephew Johnny, who was not only a close relative but someone she considered a best friend. He worked for the Knowles family as a nanny and designed outfits for the girls in the beginning stages of Destiny's Child. 

She described how heartbreaking it was seeing his health decline after his AIDS diagnosis. "People were afraid and there were a lot of myths and misconceptions about it and fear, and it was a really, really tough time," she said. "I often think about him and I think that if only he could have gotten in later, there would have been more treatment for it ... he wouldn't have been ostracized so much." After his diagnosis, she described visiting him in hospice and seeing young people like him alone because their parents abandoned them. 

After her daughter dedicated her 2019 GLAAD Vanguard award to Johnny, Knowles-Lawson wrote on Instagram, "When he died I lost a piece of me, almost like when you lose a spouse, a brother, or sister, he was my brother he was my best friend and I love and miss him still."

Mathew Knowles experienced racism as a child

As a young Black boy who grew up in Alabama, Mathew Knowles is no stranger to racial discrimination. Born in 1952, he spoke about attending desegregated schools in Gadsden, Alabama, telling The Jasmine Brand, "I'm one of the first to desegregate junior high school, high school, elementary, [and] the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. I've been spit on. I've been electric-prided." 

Growing up, he dealt with segregated water foundations and bathrooms and discussed how those experiences make him grateful for the freedoms he has today. In Solange Knowles' 2016 "A Seat At The Table" album, she included an interview with her father about his childhood experiences, since the album centered around the Black American experience. She told Billboard that speaking with him about his own experiences with racism helped her understand him more, "But I think I have a much clearer idea of the trauma that he experienced and how it felt like it was then generationally passed on to me. Both kind of existing in the white spaces as an "only," and how much that can really shape and mold your experience of the world, race, and identity." 

In his own book "Racism: From the Eyes of a Child," Mathew detailed how colorism was something he was taught as a child by his own mother. Chatting with Ebony in 2018 about the book, he recalled, "In the deep South in the '50s, '60s, and '70s, the shade of your Blackness was considered important. So I, unfortunately, grew up hearing that message."

Mathew Knowles was diagnosed with breast cancer

In 2019, Mathew Knowles was diagnosed with stage 1A breast cancer at the age of 67, per People. As he shared with People the following year, he sought medical help after finding bloodstains on his shirt and bedsheets. He ultimately had a double mastectomy to remove his right breast, and also learned that "he had the BRCA2 gene mutation, which raises his risk of developing pancreatic, melanoma and prostate cancers."

Per People, Knowles has "an extensive family history of the disease," and he wasted no time encouraging both of his daughters to get the BRCA gene test. He has also used his platform to raise awareness about male breast cancer and the importance of genetic testing. In a written piece for USA Today, he stressed the importance of men getting tested regularly and taking their health seriously. "As I look back, I'm not afraid to admit I would have made drastically different choices about my health if I knew then what I know now about how we (and especially Black men) approach our health," he wrote. He now works with the genetic testing company Invitae to encourage other families to get tested. "I want to save lives, especially in the Black community," Knowles told People.

Tina and Mathew Knowles' messy divorce

In 2009, TMZ reported that Tina Knowles filed for divorce from Mathew Knowles. This filing came just two months after Mathew was hit with a paternity lawsuit from Alexsandra Wright. In a lengthy statement obtained by MadameNoire, Wright later confirmed the affair... and accused Mathew of not being active in their son's life. What surprised people the most about the statement was her public message to Tina Knowles. Wright addresses her directly, writing "I also regret the pain that this situation has caused his ex-wife, Tina, and very much wish one day I will get the opportunity to tell her personally." 

Surprisingly, a year later the divorce was called off after both of them skipped out on their court hearing, according to TMZ. In 2011, TMZ confirmed their 33-year long marriage was over and the divorce was finalized "for real this time." On a 2020 episode of "Girlfriends Check In," Tina opened up about how her kids were there for her during that time. "When I went through my divorce I was devastated after 33 years of marriage," she said. "Not because I wanted to stay in the marriage but just because I was like, 'Oh my God, I failed at this and I am 59 years old.'" She detailed how Beyoncé and Solange reminded her she's "got so much going" for her and lifted her spirits by spending extra time with her.

Beyonce's cousin was killed

In 2021, tragedy hit the Knowles family when 34-year-old Martell DeRouen was fatally shot at his home in Texas. His body was reportedly found days after during a wellness check by the police, as reported by Fox News Antonio. He was confirmed to be the cousin of both Solange and Beyoncé Knowles and was related to them through their grandmother Agnes DeRouen. Martell was also a rapper signed to a Sony-affiliated record label and went by the stage name "Kardone." Police arrested aspiring rapper Sasha Skare and she was later indicted on murder charges involving Martell DeRouen's death, according to the Houston Chronicle. The two reportedly met each other during a video shoot. 

His wife, Joia DeRouen, described him as someone with a strong work ethic who never used his family connections for fame. "He never really talked about it, bragged about it, or anything like that," she said, per Fox News Antonio. She described him as someone determined to make it in the music industry on his own merit. The Knowles family has never commented publicly on his murder.

Solange's health scare

Solange Knowles first made mention of health issues when she canceled a 2017 New Year's Eve performance in South Africa. In a lengthy Instagram note to her fans (via People), she revealed, "The past five months I have been quietly treating, and working through an autonomic disorder. [It's] been a journey that hasn't been easy on me... Sometimes I feel cool, and other times not so cool at all." She went on to thank other festivals that previously were made aware of her medical condition but respected her privacy by keeping the information under wraps.

In 2021, she made mention of more health troubles on Instagram as she celebrated the second anniversary of her 2019 "When I Get Home" album. "2 year anniversary of the project that literally changed my life," she wrote. "When I first started creating 'When I Get Home' I was quite literally fighting for my life ... in and out of hospitals (s/out park plaza on Binz!) with depleting health and broken spirits..." Knowles went on to describe how the creative process of making that album felt like a sign from God to her. She didn't specify what the recent health troubles were but she describes it as a "life-long healing".

Beyonce's 'extremely difficult' pregnancy experience

In 2018, Vogue's coveted September issue featured Beyoncé on the cover. Inside the magazine, she gave a rare interview that covered a range of topics from her career, her family lineage, and the birth of her twins, Rumi and Sir Carter. The normally private star detailed her stressful birth and difficult recovery. "I was in survival mode and did not grasp it all until months later," she revealed. The singer spoke about being swollen from toxemia during her pregnancy and needing an emergency C-section. As if that wasn't scary enough, her twins also spent weeks in the NICU. Per Glamour, she also opened up about her "extremely difficult" pregnancy in the "Homecoming" documentary. "My body went through more than I knew it could," she stated.

With her 2018 Coachella performance scheduled just ten months away, she needed to not only recover from a dangerous C-section but also get her body ready for a nearly two-hour grueling performance. Knowles also spoke about practicing body acceptance and being patient with herself. "During my recovery, I gave myself self-love and self-care, and I embraced being curvier," she said in Vogue. "I accepted what my body wanted to be."

Solange was in Beyoncé's 'shadow' early on

Raising two girls isn't easy, especially when one of them is the lead vocalist of a rising girl group. This is something Tina Knowles-Lawson realized very early on in her daughter's career. In a 2018 interview with Maria Shriver, she revealed that she placed both daughters in therapy when they were young to make sure that Beyoncé's growing fame wouldn't affect their sibling bond. Based on her own experience of feeling that her mother favored her other siblings, Knowles-Lawson revealed that she was intentional with making sure both daughters felt loved and special. She hoped that putting them in therapy would remove any feelings of jealousy between the two.

"I wanted Beyoncé to be sensitive to the fact that Solange had to deal with being a little bit in her shadow," she explained. "And it made her way more sensitive and protective. And they're still fiercely protective of each other." Because of therapy being taboo, family and friends weren't exactly supportive of Knowles-Lawson putting her two young kids in therapy, but clearly, mother knows best. The two famous sisters still share a close bond.

Worrying about being in the shadow of Queen Bey is something fellow Destiny's Child member Kelly Rowland knows all too well. "Can you imagine what it's like being in a group with Beyoncé?" she asked a contestant on an episode of "The Voice Australia." "I would be lying if I said, 'No, it's never bothered me.' That's bull."

Beyoncé cut professional ties with her dad

After spending her entire career with her father as her manager, Beyoncé Knowles decided to part ways with her father in 2011 for a surprising reason. Even though her public statement to Us Weekly about the split described it as amicable, it became clear more was happening behind the scenes. TMZ reported that Mathew Knowles was suing Live Nation Entertainment and accused them of conspiring against him. 

Mathew alleged that Live Nation told his daughter that he stole money from her recent tour. The court documents also revealed that Mathew was fired after his daughter's law firm conducted an audit on her finances and found evidence that Mathew had taken more money that didn't belong to him. Mathew claimed that these lies were fed to his daughter in order to secure rights to her 2011 world tour. 

In a 2013 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Beyoncé described firing her father as one of the hardest things she's ever done. "We both knew it was time a few years before," she explained. "I love my father so much. He taught me so many things, so it was something that was hard." Mathew currently has no involvement in either of his daughter's careers but, as he told Us Weekly in 2020, he's still apparently the manager of Destiny's Child. Per Playbill, he plans to take the story of the iconic girl group to Broadway in a show titled "Survivor: The Destiny's Child Musical".

Mathew Knowles' son experienced hardship

After his public divorce from Tina Knowles, Mathew Knowles was at the center of two paternity lawsuits from women who claimed he was the father of their children. Both women demanded Mathew take a DNA test and begin supporting their children financially. In February 2014, TMZ reported that the mother of his son, Nixon Alexander Knowles, alleged that she needed to go on food stamps because Mathew was skipping out on child support payments. Alexsandra Wright told the media that she and her son were headed to a Los Angeles homeless shelter because of it. In May 2014, the AP reported a judge kicked his monthly payments from $12,000 to $2,500. 

At the time of her legal battle with Mathew, Wright said her son's famous siblings were not in his life. "Nixon deserves to know his family, and I hope one day he will meet his sister Beyoncé," she said to In Touch Weekly. Clarifying to Inside Edition that she does not in any way hold Beyoncé responsible for the situation, Wright said, "I've never blamed her. I want the best for her. Everyone is in pain."

Beyonce and Solange didn't attend their father's wedding

After their parent's divorce and firing their father, there has always been a rumored rift between the Knowles family. Rumblings of an estranged relationship circulated when both Beyonce and Solange skipped out on their father's wedding to Gena Charmaine Avery in 2013. In a statement to Us Magazine, the famous dad explained, "Unfortunately, Beyonce and Solange had previous engagements which made it impossible for them to attend." 

In 2017, he raised eyebrows with a very emotional and public message to Beyoncé on her birthday. Many wondered if he posted it online because they weren't in contact. However, in 2018 Tina Knowles-Lawson, Mathew Knowles, and their eldest daughter had a rare public reunion when they were spotted backstage at the On The Run 2 tour. 

Mathew revealed to TMZ that his appearance at the last show was a surprise to his famous daughter. He explained that he planned to surprise her with a dozen red roses. "She gave me a huge hug that only daughters can give to their dads," he described. "Beyoncé wanted to take a photo of the three of us. It was important to her and all of us. We've never been enemies." The music megastar even posted the photo with her dad and those roses on her own Instagram. The family currently seems to be on better terms — which is a good thing, because in the words of Beyonce's husband, "No one wins when the family feuds."