Tragic Details About Chris Rock

Following the 2022 Academy Awards, all anyone could seem to talk about was Chris Rock and Will Smith. In case you didn't watch, allow us to fill you in: Rock made a not-so-sensitive joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith's alopecia, prompting "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" alum to rush the stage, slap him in the face, and curse at him on national television. Since then, there has been a lot of chatter and debate about the incident. Why did Will do it? How does Jada feel about Rock and Will's altercation? Was Chris out of line? You get the idea. 

Rock was clearly stunned in the moment, and that shock didn't totally wear off right away. Per CNN, when he performed a standup set a few days later, he told the crowd, "I'm still kind of processing what happened, so at some point I'll talk about that s***."

If you've followed Rock's career, you know he's processed a lot over the years. Yes, he's successful comedian, director, actor, and "Saturday Night Live" alum worth a reported $60 million now, but he has also led a tragic and difficult life. Below, we break down the ins and outs of Rock's story.

Chris Rock lost his dad

Chris Rock built a very strong bond with his family, especially his father. The comic looked up to his dad, Julius Rock. As he told Gayle King, he even wanted to follow in Julius' footsteps and become a truck driver. Julius died in 1988, and understandably, the loss was hard on Chris. "When your dad dies, you know you're alone," Chris told Rolling Stone. "And there is something about your dad dying that makes you go, 'What's the point?'"

He experienced something of a worldview shift. "After I lost my dad, I realized that none of us should take things too seriously, because everything except death works itself out," he said during an Oprah interview. "Everything. No matter what happens or how difficult things become, you will eventually feel better."

Chris has taken some of the lessons his father instilled in him and tried to carry them into his adult life. "My father kept me from going to jail," he said during a CBS interview. "I wasn't a criminal or anything," he clarified, adding that his dad just made sure he was hanging out with kids who wouldn't be a bad influence. Besides that, Rock explained that the most important thing his dad taught him was to be on time. "There's no such thing as early," he laughed.

The comedian was bullied relentlessly

Chris Rock was relentlessly bullied as a child and suffered severe trauma at the hands of his peers. "Half of the bullying was because I was just a little guy," he said on an appearance with "Fly on the Wall with Dana Carvey and David Spade." "When I got bused to school and the bullying was because I was little guy and I was Black," he said. "I was getting double bullied."

The bullying went from bad to worse for Rock as he grew older. The comic spoke at length about the experience during a "The Howard Stern Show" appearance in 2020. "It was just a horrible existence. The closest character I can relate to is Tim Robbins in the 'Shawshank,'" he said before alluding to the physical trauma he endured. "Sometimes some sexual sh*t happened," he said. "I wasn't raped, but rape-ish."

Eventually, things got so bad that Rock dropped out of high school in 10th grade, per Oprah. The comedian got a little taste of poetic justice years later when he realized one of his childhood bullies was working on the set of one of his films. As he told Stern, rather than boot him from the production or cause a scene, Rock politely acknowledged his former tormenter. "You know when Elmer Fudd got really mad? When Bugs Bunny kissed him," Rock quipped.

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).

Rock lost a close friend

There has been a lot of hardship in Chris Rock's life. One such tragic event was the death of his close friend Chris Farley, who died of a drug overdose in 1997. Rock opened up about this loss when speaking to Esquire in 2021. "This looks like one of the last times I saw Chris alive," Rock said of a photo of himself and Farley before reflecting on their final few times together. "I don't know if you've ever really hung out with an addict," he said. "Towards the end, anything that isn't the drug is a chore."

Rock remembered a particularly eerie moment he had after visiting Farley at his apartment. "I leave, I see him out the window, and I was like, 'That's probably the last time I'm going to see him.' I knew," he shared. Still, Rock remembers his friendship with Farley and their time sharing an office at "SNL" with Adam Sandler and David Spade fondly. "We called it a dorm," he joked. "We're friends to this day. I love those guys." 

On a 2019 episode of "Late Night with Seth Meyers," Sandler shared that he'd recently visited the space that used to be their "SNL" office. "I did look at Farley's old desk and I thought of all the crazy, just him being funny there," he laughed.

If you or anyone you know is struggling 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).

His marriage came to an end

Fans were shocked to learn of Chris Rock's divorce after nearly two decades of marriage. He and Malaak Compton-Rock share two daughters and seemed like the picture of happiness. However, Chris filed for divorce in 2014, and soon enough, secrets about Chris' marriage began to emerge. He admitted to cheating on Malaak during a stand upset a few years later, per Today. "I was a piece of sh**." Chris went on to describe how he'd had at least three affairs in his marriage. Per Rolling Stone, he said two of the women are household names of varying degree. 

Per TMZ, the divorce was finalized in 2016. On a 2021 episode of "The Tonight Show," Chris shared a piece of advice he gave to John Mulaney after he announced his own divorce: "This is how much money I lost in the divorce: I recommended my ex-wife's divorce lawyer. That's how bad."

During a New Orleans show with Dave Chappelle, Chris said that the custody hearing was probably the most emotionally taxing part of the divorce process, per Rolling Stone. Chris did his best to remedy the situation by investing in a very particular piece of real estate. "All my friends assume I moved into the city after my divorce, away from my girls," he said. "When I say I bought a house around the corner, it blows their minds."

Chris Rock's childhood trauma stuck with him

Funnyman Chris Rock is way serious about his mental health. As he shared with The Hollywood Reporter in 2020, he got into therapy after being diagnosed with a nonverbal learning disorder and recognizing he still had a lot of emotional stuff to unpack. "Success does not erase trauma," he said in The Telegraph. "So I definitely had to go back through therapy and really go through my childhood."

Rock told THR that in therapy, he was facing his past trauma head-on, alluding to the bullying he suffered as a child. Of course because it's Rock, he had to throw in a little joke about how easy it is to be a kid today. "I'm not belittling today's youth, but I wish somebody had sent me a bad text when I was a kid," he quipped. "These motherf***ers were trying to kill me."

Rock might be able to riff here and there, but when it comes to taking care of his mental health, he takes it way seriously. The comic is willing to put in the work and the time. As he shared with Gayle King in 2020, he'd gone to therapy for a while, but he'd recently upped the ante. "I really jumped into it after Covid, and I'm still doing it," Rock said. "I do about seven hours a week." He acknowledged that honesty and openness are keys to the process. "People get better and people change," Rock noted.

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.

Drama with the Smith family

Okay, so we had to touch on this because how could we not? Chris Rock and Will Smith. Likely for the rest of their lives only ever mentioned together in the context of Will's shocking 2022 Oscar slap, the feud between the two runs much deeper and much longer than a poorly timed joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith.

In 1995, Rock and Will shared the screen when the former landed a guest spot on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." What's more, Rock has starred in the "Madagascar" movies alongside Jada. As we've learned, Rock isn't afraid to crack wise about his coworkers. 

During a "David Letterman" appearance, Rock told the host that he'd felt the need to compete with Will for most of his career, per Complex. "The guy has already taken parts from me, now his kids are taking parts from my kids. It's horrible," he joked. "What the hell? Will Smith, don't you have enough?" And as the Daily Beast noted, Rock once made a joke about Jada on "The Chris Rock Show" in 1997. Years later, at the 2016 Oscars, he mocked her again, this time zeroing in on her decision to boycott the ceremony despite not being nominated or invited, per the Sun. The couple shrugged off the jab at the time, but it seems that Rock's hair joke a few years later pushed Will over the edge. Will has since publicly apologized and Rock has said he isn't quite ready to talk about the slap just yet.

Chris Rock got COVID

In 2021, Chris Rock contracted COVID-19. Rock came down with the illness in September of that year, just as things were opening up and he was finally getting back to doing standup. "Hey guys I just found out I have COVID, trust me you don't want this," he tweeted shortly after his diagnosis. "Get vaccinated."

And getting inoculated is clearly something he's long been serious about. When Ryan Seacrest asked him what he'd been up to on a May 2021 episode of "Live with Kelly and Ryan," Rock replied, "I've been just getting vaccines, Ryan. Every day, I get a new one." And when Gayle King asked him if he was at all wary of the vaccine, he quipped, "Do I know what's in Tylenol? I don't know what's in Tylenol, Gayle. I just know my headache's gone."

After he recovered from COVID, Rock opened up about his experience during a standup set. It's safe to say he was not a fan. "I'm back from the dead! I had COVID," he said during a surprise appearance at the Blue Note Jazz Club, per Page Six. "It wasn't quite as hard as being Black, but it was close. ... That's why everyone's trying to avoid it, man."

The star's mom was diagnosed with cancer

Nearly three decades after his father died, Chris Rock's mother, Rose Rock, was diagnosed with breast cancer and he acted as her caretaker. As he told Rolling Stone in 2017, he feared she did not have much time left. "There were days where I just prayed she would die when [my daughters] were at their mother's," he recalled. "I didn't want them to see that." Thankfully, she survived. 

Pull up a video of Rose, and you'll see where her son gets his humor. "My claim to fame is being Chris Rock's mom," she deadpanned in a 2012 video with WPDE ABC15. "But I'm so much more than that and I'm so over everybody calling me Chris Rock's mom." 

Jokes aside, it's clear being a mom means the world to Rose. Later on in the same segment, she opened up about raising her family by herself after Julius Rock died. It was important to her that she always maintained the standard she and her late husband set. "I worked, I taught, I came home, I had to go to baseball practice, I had to go to this," she recalled. "And especially when you have a large family. Plus, we had foster children. So, it wasn't easy, but like I said, it's not supposed to be easy." Needless to say, she's strong like a rock.