A Complete Timeline Of Kimora Lee Simmons' Love Life

Kimora Lee Simmons' love life may be a little more complicated that you may realize. Fans got a peek of the star's private life thanks to her infamous Style Network (remember that?) show, "Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane" and its spin-off, "Kimora: House of Fab." There, we saw her daughters Ming Lee Simmons and Aoki Lee Simmons grow up before our eyes, but we were left wondering what was next when she left the reality TV world behind in 2013. Well, when it comes to romance, what came next was a whole lot of rumors.

Kimora's love life has hit the headlines multiple times over the years, as she's admitted she knows there's plenty of interest in who she's sharing her life with — and luckily, she has a thick skin. "Nothing really bothers me when it comes to things like that... I think it's fair game," she admitted to Hello! in 2013. "I think we can all rise above it as it's all sport and fun and for somebody to make a buck. If you try and take it in stride I think it'll be ok. It comes with the territory."

It's probably for the best too that she knows how to let what's churning around the rumor mill  roll off her back, as the gossip columns have had plenty of fodder over the years. So, buckle up, because we're taking a look back at Kimora's relationship timeline, which includes everything from secret weddings to bigamy allegations.

The Russell Simmons days

The high-profile relationship that started it all for Kimora Lee Simmons? Her romance with Def Jam Recordings founder and Phat Farm creator Russell Simmons. Kimora married Russell in December 1998 in a civil ceremony, per their New York Times announcement, four years after their paths first crossed while Kimora was modeling for New York Fashion Week. Getting hitched didn't go off without a hitch though, as Kimora told Vanity Fair in 2005 that their St. Barts ceremony was apparently almost derailed by one of her bridesmaids. "Stole my Manolos," she recalled. "Because they wanted Russell. And they couldn't take it." Shoe-nanigans be darned, the wedding still happened.

The twosome's age gap has generated some controversy, with Russell defending the 31 years between them in 2020 in a since deleted Instagram comment (via The Jasmine Brand). After he shared a birthday post for her, a fan hit back in the comments section that he allegedly dated Kimora when she was 17. However, he maintained that this wasn't what happened. "We got to know each other by May we were dating. She was legal at 17 But she turned 18 that may her mother and her manager Bethann Hardison approved supported and Rushed us (we really didn't need a push) and the love affair began," he wrote back. Kimora herself has also addressed the matter, telling Vanity Fair, "We didn't do anything until I was 18."

The Simmons family grows

Less than two years into their marriage, Kimora Lee Simmons announced she was pregnant with her and Russell Simmons' first child. In January 2000, the happy couple welcomed Ming Lee Simmons into the world, and even as an infant, the baby had quite impressive connections. In addition to having famous parents, Ming has a very famous godparent: smize legend herself, Tyra Banks. Banks, who was a bridesmaid at Kimora and Russell's wedding, had been a close friend of Ming's mother for years. Kimora told Hello! in 2013, "I think there was always something about Tyra and I think she saw that in me, too." Kimora went on to fall pregnant with their second child the following year, giving birth to her and Russell's second daughter, Aoki Lee Simmons, in August 2002.

Fans may be most familiar with Kimora's daughters through her infamous reality show, "Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane," which debuted in 2007. The star opened up about how life in the spotlight affected her kids, telling Hello!, "The paparazzi attention can make them a little nervous. They love photoshoots and modeling — they don't mind that part."

Both have gone on to have successful modeling careers just like their mom though, and can still be seen modeling for Kimora's line, Baby Phat, just like they did when they were kids. They've got quite the social media following, too: As of March 2022, Ming boasts 1.1 million followers, while her little sister Aoki also has a serious following at 704,000.

Her first marriage comes to an end

Alas, the Simmons' marriage wasn't built to last. Kimora Lee Simmons and Russell Simmons confirmed in May 2006 that they'd gone their separate ways, with People reporting they'd actually quietly split quite a while before that but had continued to live together. "Kimora and I will remain committed parents and caring friends with great love and admiration for each other. We will also continue to work side by side on a daily basis as partners in all of our businesses," Russell said in a statement.

The two didn't make any moves to officially end their marriage for a while, though, until Kimora officially filed for divorce in March 2008. According to People, Kimora cited "irreconcilable differences" for their split. She asked for sole custody of their two daughters, with Russell getting visitation rights. The divorce was finalized by January 2009.

Though it was no doubt the end of an era after almost 15 years together, by the time she filed the legal papers, Kimora had actually already met a new love.

Hello, Djimon Hounsou

Prior to finalizing her divorce with Russell Simmons, Kimora Lee Simmons had found love again with model and actor Djimon Hounsou. The two met in February 2007, with Kimora telling Harper's Bazaar in 2008 she wasn't looking for anything serious at the time. They actually initially swapped numbers for professional reasons, to which she recalled him telling her, "Are you really going to use that number, or are you going to use it for business?"

They later went to dinner with a few friends, where Simmons remembers asking him, "'Are you dating?' 'You married?' 'You want kids?'" This forward line of questioning might drive some people away, but Hounsou was smitten and stuck around. He told Harper's Bazaar, "My first impression has always been the same: that she's a beautiful lady, very capable and intelligent and smart with great family values." Simmons returned the gushing favor by professing her love, admitting, "I could be eating my words later, but I really doubt it. If people were betting, they would bet their good money on Djimon." (Sorry for the spoiler, but let's just say you'd have lost out if you'd bet on this romance lasting.)

Things continued to go well for the two, and in June 2008, Simmons revealed to People that they were sort of but not technically engaged. Not exactly officially putting a ring on it didn't stop them from taking the next step in their romance, though.

A baby and commitment ceremony

In January 2009, it was revealed that Kimora Lee Simmons was pregnant with her third child, her first with Djimon Hounsou. Page Six claimed the two had been trying to get pregnant for around a year after she admitted to Us Weekly a few months earlier that she was ready to have more kids. As she told the outlet, "I practice every day." Okay, we're blushing at that one.

Two months later in March 2009, despite not being formally engaged, Us Weekly reported that the couple had a commitment ceremony while visiting his family in Benin, Africa. And it sounds like Russell Simmons was pretty supportive of his ex taking this formal step in her relationship with Djimon. A tipster dished to the magazine, "Russell respects Djimon and they get along great." Moreover, the same source told Us that Kimora and Russell's daughters were very much on board. "They all live as one happy family together," they said.

Kimora and Djimon's son, Kenzo Lee Hounsou, was born in June 2009. Kimora even live tweeted her labor, per People, keeping fans well updated on her contractions and beyond. Seriously, how 2009 is that?

Kimora Lee Simmons and Djimon Hounsou call it off

Unfortunately, things came to an end for Kimora Lee Simmons and Djimon Hounsou in November 2012. After weeks of whispers there may have been trouble in paradise for the two, Hounsou's rep confirmed they'd gone their separate ways in a statement issued to People. Simmons also spoke about what went wrong on Twitter, writing, "There have been quite a few hurtful rumors circulating. The truth is Djimon + I have been separated for some time. We have remained happy, loving, co-parenting friends + family. We all have much to be thankful for."

In June 2012, a few months before they officially announced their split, a source alleged to New York Daily News that the pair supposedly ended things following a disagreement about money matters. Djimon quickly shut down this report, telling GlobalGrind, "It has come to my attention vicious lies and stories are being spread about myself and my family."

Things appeared to turn nasty between the two in the years that followed the dissolution of their relationship, as they fell out over custody in 2019. TMZ described things as being "bitter" after Djimon requested joint custody of Kenzo Lee Hounsou, having previously accused Simmons of not letting him see their son as much as he wanted to. TMZ also reported that Simmons was allegedly concerned Djimon would move their son to his home country of Benin.

Birdman and the secret wedding

In February 2014, rumors began to swirled that Kimora Lee Simmons may have been dating rapper Birdman (who has since been linked to Toni Braxton) after he described her on Instagram in a since-deleted post as being "the love of his life." The blogosphere went into overdrive after he shared a cozy snap of the two together alongside the caption, "S/O @officialkimora luv of my life Thanku 4everythang u did and do 4'me RICHGIRL RICHGANG." But, not so fast. It appeared to be this rumor that outed Kimora's second marriage to the world, and you won't believe who actually shared the news — none other than her ex.

Yep, it was Russell Simmons who revealed Kimora was married again, taking to Twitter to confirm that his former wife had wed (eventually former) Goldman Sachs higher-up Tim Leissner. Seemingly shutting down the Birdman dating speculation, Russell clarified, "All of us love @OfficialKimora but the fact is she is happily married.. Tim is has been family for a while now." Now, this didn't totally come out of the blue: In December 2013, Tim was spotted with Kimora, Russell, and their daughters on a family vacation to St. Barts (where Kimora and Russell got married).

Kimora didn't seem to mind too much that her former husband spilled the beans about her new husband though, and she proudly showed off her jaw dropping engagement ring in paparazzi shots shortly after her ex spilled the beans.

Kimora Lee Simmons becomes a mom of five

More babies for Kimora Lee Simmons. In October 2014, Page Six reported Kimora was expecting a child, her first with Tim Leissner. The outlet claimed she was four months along, while a source told People, "It's true. Pregnant, happy — so far so good. [She's] cautiously optimistic. [The] girls are ecstatic."

In April 2015, the happy couple welcomed a son named Wolfe Lee Leissner, with Kimora confirming the news with the first snap of the newborn posted to Instagram. "After an all natural, intimate, beautiful, long birth! He's everything we thought he would be and MORE! I am so grateful to my amazing husband for all of his support and love through it all. He never left my side! It wasn't easy, but we did it!" she wrote. The star also opened up about her decision to go the natural birth route to People, noting that while the experience was not easy, it was rewarding. 

Now we're going to fast-forward five years to January 2020, when Kimora became a mom of five. Us Weekly confirmed that she and Tim had adopted a son named Gary Lee, as her rep gave an update on the growing family after daughters Ming Lee Simmons and Aoki Lee Simmons left the nest. "Both have started their college careers and join Kimora as the faces and creative vision behind their newly relaunched family business, Baby Phat by Kimora Lee Simmons," the rep stated. "Kimora now has all boys at home."

Tim Leissner's legal troubles

Kimora Lee Simmons and Tim Leissner's marriage hit a snag in early 2020 when rumors of infidelity began to hit the headlines. Us Weekly alleged that Leissner was spotted out and about with an unnamed woman in Los Angeles, and whispers of the supposed PDA display got back to Simmons. 

Things took an even more dramatic turn in February 2022 when Leissner claimed in court that he had faked a divorce in order to wed Simmons, per Bloomberg. Which means he was technically still married to someone else when he married Simmons. What's more, per Bloomberg, he admitted that he carried on a years-long charade in which he posed as a former wife over email and regularly corresponded with Simmons. This revelation surfaced when Leissner, who pled guilty to money laundering in 2018 for his involvement in the 1MBD scandal, acted as a witness in fellow Goldman Sachs alum Roger Ng's embezzlement trial.

On top of all of that, Leissner said he forged divorce papers for not one, but two women. Per Bloomberg, Ng's attorney called him a "double bigamist." It's believed Simmons and Leissner — understandably — were estranged when Leissner hit the courtroom.

Things with Russell Simmons turn sour

Sadly, after being in one another's lives for years and successfully co-parenting their two daughters together, things turned sour between Kimora Lee Simmons and Russell Simmons in May 2021. Per People, Russell sued his former wife, alleging she'd fraudulently transferred his stocks in energy drink company Celsius to pay for Tim Leissner's bail when he was hit with those money laundering charges in 2018. The statement read, "Knowing full well that Defendant Leissner would need tens of millions of dollars to avoid jail time, stay out on bail and forfeit monies for victim compensation, Defendants engaged in this blatant fraud to achieve that nefarious and unlawful goal."

However, in a statement from her legal team provided to People, Kimora denied Russell's allegations and maintained that she and Leissner both invested a lot of their own money into the stocks. The statement continued, "This is an ill-advised attempt by Russell to use the legal system to access funds he is in no way entitled to, and which his own legal team confirms Russell did not pay for." As for Leissner? He claimed in legal documents, per Radar, that he did not do anything wrong to the music mogul.