Tragic Details About The Braxton Family

The following article discusses suicide, depression, child abuse, and abortion. 

Toni, Tamar, Towanda, Trina, and Traci Braxton first rose to fame on the entertainment scene. The Braxtons kickstarted their careers as a singing group with their 1990 debut single "Good Life." However, older sister Toni has remained the most famous member after embarking on a hugely successful solo career that has seen her win an impressive seven Grammy Awards.

In recent years, the whole family has remained in the spotlight, giving fans an insight into their personal lives with the reality show, "Braxton Family Values." Despite the drama displayed in some of the episodes, in 2019, Toni revealed to Hollywood Life that she and her family get along very well. "Actually we don't fight very much," she revealed. "We are close and share a lot of the same opinions on things." During a 2020 interview with "The Morning Hustle," Trina and Towanda both confirmed that some viewers had misinterpreted the drama to mean that not everyone gets along with one another. "There are moments that we don't like each other, which is true," Towanda told the show. However, she maintained that there was plenty of love between them all, regardless. 

The family has brought a lot of joy to people's lives. But as these tragic details about the Braxton family suggest, they have had their fair share of struggles behind the scenes, too.  

Toni Braxon was diagnosed with lupus

In 2008, Toni Braxton was diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease that includes symptoms like joint pain, skin rashes, and fatigue. As reported by Insider, the "Breathe Again" singer was initially told by doctors she needed a heart transplant and that her career could be compromised by her health. "I remember being petrified," she told the outlet in 2020. "I was scared. I didn't know anything about lupus." Fortunately, Braxton has been able to continue her career as a performer and never needed the heart transplant that was originally suggested.

The performer kept her diagnosis private until 2010 when she accepted a Woman in Achievement award at the 8th Annual Lupus LA Bag Ladies Luncheon. In her acceptance speech, Braxton explained that people had warned her that coming forward about having lupus would damage her career and make others in the industry uncomfortable. "I started believing all that cr*p. I got caught up in it, I've got to be honest," she told the audience. "But today I'm going to talk about it because I'm a survivor and I'm here, and I don't want to lose hope," she explained.

The singer isn't the only member of her family who shares the same condition. At the Lupus LA Orange Ball in 2009, she revealed her brother, Michael Conrad Braxton Jr., also suffers from lupus while her uncle had died from complications of the disease.

Toni's health issues continued

By all accounts, 2008 was a rough year for Toni Braxton. The superstar was hospitalized in the midst of her Las Vegas residency, "Toni Braxton: Revealed," due to a complaint of chest pain, per The Hollywood Reporter. The two-year run of the residency was due to continue two months later. Sadly, all remaining dates were instead canceled so the singer could recuperate and get well.  

Later that year, Braxton was diagnosed with microvascular angina, per ABC News. The disease is caused by tiny blood vessel obstructions which restrict the heart from getting the blood flow it needs. According to WebMD, those who suffer from the condition can experience discomfort and pain when they exercise. As the outlet noted, however, Braxton didn't let her condition hold her back during the seventh season of "Dancing with the Stars."

The star thrived on stage, and it may have made her heart happy. Speaking to ABC News, Dr. Christopher Cannon explained that staying active is recommended by cardiologists as a way to encourage heart health. "Dancing is a good way to exercise," he explained. "With angina, one has to gauge the amount of exercise and what level of exercise brings out any chest pain." In the end, Toni was eliminated from the competition. Luckily, however, she didn't appear to experience any complications with the disease while competing.

Tamar faced judgement for her skin condition

Since rising to fame at a young age, fans noticed a change in Tamar Braxton's latter-day appearance. Rumors continually suggested that the star had altered her physical appearance with skin bleaching or surgical procedures. However, in a 2013 interview with Ebony, Braxton insisted that wasn't the case. Instead, the singer revealed she suffers from the condition vitiligo, which affects pigmentation of the skin. 

Having suffered from it since childhood, Braxton revealed that the skin disease had affected her self-esteem. "It's gotten worse since I've gotten pregnant. If you shake my hand now, to me it's more noticeable," she told the outlet. As for those plastic surgery rumors, she stated that aside from a medical procedure when she had cartilage from her ear moved to her nose, she's never delved any deeper into chemical or plastic procedures. "Everything is real on me," she vowed to Ebony. 

Braxton opened up about the emotional impact of her skin disease on "The Real" the following year. The singer recalled that she was hesitant to work with a lot of makeup artists because she was insecure about people knowing about the condition. "I used to sit on my hands because it's really bad on my hands," she explained. " ... I tan to try to hide it." Braxton noted that she eventually found the strength to accept herself for who she is.

Tamar Braxton attempted suicide

In July 2020, The Blast reported that Tamar Braxton had been rushed to hospital following a suspected suicide attempt. The "Love And War" hitmaker was found unresponsive at the Ritz Carlton Residences in Los Angeles. Braxton's then-boyfriend David Adefeso was said to have found her and called 911 for help. Later that month, the star appeared to address the suicide attempt in a lengthy Twitter thread where she highlighted some of the struggles she'd dealt with prior to the incident. She finished the note by writing, "Mental illness is real. We have to normalize acknowledging it and stop associating it with shame and humiliation."

Months later, Braxton got real about her suicide attempt while she was a guest on the "Tamron Hall Show." Sharing the heartbreaking truth that she'd experienced suicidal ideation before, the star explained, "There has been a time where I wanted to [die], but this was the first time where I've actually acted on it."  She further elaborated that she had been diagnosed with depression and anxiety, and was receiving daily counselling sessions in support of her conditions. 

During a 2021 cover story with People, Braxton let readers know she checked herself into a mental health facility in order to receive further treatment. Speaking to the outlet, the performer suggested her conditions had been heightened by some residual childhood trauma. "I thought I had successfully buried that part of me, but it was manifesting in different ways," she explained.

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.

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

A survivor of alleged childhood abuse

During an episode of "Braxton Family Values," fans were left stunned when Tamar Braxton stormed out of a family meeting with OWN life coach, Iyanla Vanzant. Speaking on "The Wendy Williams Show," the performer claimed her reason for doing so was far deeper than what anyone could imagine. "I've been battling myself on whether or not I want to say really what happened or not," she explained. "... A lot of things happened to me in my childhood that I was too afraid to talk about or too ashamed to talk about." She then alleged that she had been sexually abused by family members as a child. Braxton claimed to have been shocked when Vanzant brought the issue up during filming of the episode. 

In an emotional Twitter thread, Tamar addressed her statements and further purported that she had previously only told two other people about the allegations. However, she refused to be shamed for her history and chose to speak out to empower herself and others. In the post she re-affirmed the allegations and claimed, "I have been a victim of abuse not once, twice, ten, but multiple times by multiple 'family members.'" Speaking to People in 2021, the star explained that she felt forced to take control of her narrative after her allegations were reportedly shared without her consent on her family's reality show. "How it came out was very traumatic for me," she said, and added that her childhood trauma contributed to her mental health struggles.

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

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).

The hidden cost of reality TV

Tamar Braxton's issues with her family's reality show, "Braxton Family Values," didn't start and end with the alleged Iyanla Vanzant incident. Following the singer's suicide attempt, she posted an extensive Twitter thread that suggested, in part, that being part of the TV show was detrimental to her already strained mental health. Struggling with the demands of the series, she shared that she felt exploited by the show. "I was betrayed, taken advantage of, overworked, and underpaid," she claimed. " ... I was existing for the purpose of a corporations [sic] gain and ratings."

On the "Tamron Hall Show" the star elaborated on her experiences with the reality series and her deepening unhappiness at being part of it. She added that the thought of continuing on in the role made her want to die and that she apparently made those feelings known to WE tv in a letter. Braxton was reportedly ignored. "[I] didn't want to work in a toxic environment, be around the toxic, negative vibe [of] reality television," she stated. 

Following her suicide attempt, a statement from WE tv (via Variety) insisted, "[The network's] first concern is for (Braxton's) recovery and well-being." Meanwhile, Towanda Braxton addressed her sister's various public statements and mental health struggles in an interview with Madame Noire. "We are very sensitive where she is emotionally and mentally and we're just allowing her to just speak her own truth," she explained. 

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.

Did Tamar's struggles cause divisions?

While appearing on the "Tamron Hall Show," Tamar Braxton questioned why "Braxton's Family Values" was using her tragic story as a plot point. "I'm still having a hard time trying to figure out 'What's the premise?'" she said. "Is this to inspire, to help people with mental illness? To help Tamar with her new normal with depression and anxiety?" 

During an interview with ET, Trina and Towanda Braxton explained why they chose to address the sensitive incident within the show. "I think that we would do our fans and the viewers a disservice if we didn't talk about it," Towanda explained. She then mentioned that their aim was to tell how it affected them personally and not Tamar. During the interview, Trina went on to reveal that Tamar had blocked her sisters on social media but insisted they still talk to one another, regardless. In response to continuing to work with WEtv after Tamar chose to leave, Trina said she didn't share the same experience as she did. After the interviewer suggested there is a disconnect in how the duo feels about Tamar's side of the story, Towanda disagreed. "All of it is about perspective," she said. 

Trina addressed the situation once again in an interview with MadameNoire. Speaking of her sister's decision to keep her life private, she said, "We all absolutely respect that. Tamar has a story to tell and hopefully, it will help somebody."

Traci Braxton died of cancer

On March 12, 2022, Toni Braxton took to Instagram to share the devastating news that her sister, Traci Braxton, had died. In the post, the singer shared a black-and-white image of the Braxton sisters alongside a heartfelt caption announcing the sad news. Speaking of her sister, Toni wrote, "She was a bright light, a wonderful daughter, an amazing sister, a loving mother, wife, grandmother and a respected performer. We will miss her dearly." Tamar Braxton also took to Instagram to share a short video clip that played Muni Long's "Time Machine," a song about wishing you could go back in time. "My Dear Traci, come back," she captioned her post, adding the broken heart emoji.

In a statement given to USA Today, Traci's husband, Kevin Surratt, with whom she shared a son, revealed she had been undergoing treatment for esophageal cancer for a year prior to her death. Traci was surrounded by her loved ones when she died, according to the outlet. In her first interview since Traci's death, Toni admitted on the "Tamron Hall Show" that her sister had wanted to keep her illness as private as possible. While mourning her loss, Toni revealed she was finding hope and comfort in cherishing the memories she had of her sister. "We're just very fortunate to have had my sister with us for as long as we did," she explained. 

Trina Braxton's tragic former marriage

Sadly, Trina Braxton's ex-husband Gabe Solis also died from cancer in 2018, according to TMZ. The couple walked down the aisle in 2003 and welcomed two sons during their relationship before calling it quits in 2015. Over two years after getting a divorce, the former couple appeared on an episode of "Iyanla: Fix My Life" to discuss their rocky relationship. Solis alleged that he experienced verbal abuse and bullying from Trina during their marriage and attempted to make peace with his ex-wife. Despite their messy past, they managed to maintain a friendship. 

Even though their relationship had been over for three years, Solis' death still hit Trina pretty hard due to their long history together. On Instagram, Traci honored Solis' death with a snapshot of the duo with their children along with a touching caption articulating the loss. "For over 16 years, Gabe Solis was an essential part of our lives. Like all families, there are good and bad moments that are endured, but those moments, good or bad still made us who we are in the present," she wrote. Traci apologized to Solis' friends and family after they found out about his death through the press leaking the story. She concluded: "I miss you, my dear friend."

A double bankruptcy

Toni Braxton has had an incredibly successful music career. According to Billboard, that has included two No. 1 singles on the US Hot 100 while her second studio album, "Secrets," shifted more than 13 million copies globally, per ChartMasters. That being said, the "Long As I Live" hitmaker once experienced extreme money woes.

In 2012, the singer discussed her previous financial issues during an interview with "20/20" (via ABC News), wherein Braxton alleged that she'd received a lowly $1,972 royalty check from her first record contract with Arista. For this reason, she first filed for bankruptcy in 1998. "What happens is they give you advancement on the next record and then the next record. So you kind of stay in debt, in a sense," she explained. In addition to her apparent cash flow problems, she also had issues with spending, telling the show that she loved to splurge on extravagant home decor. After getting herself in nearly $4 million worth of debt, Toni reached an agreement with the label and received a $20 million settlement from Arista, per her memoir, "Unbreak My Heart," (via Daily Mail).

Sadly, this wasn't the only time the powerhouse vocalist had money issues. Following her Las Vegas residency cancellation due to ill health in 2008, Braxton had to file for bankruptcy for a second time, per ABC News. That being said, a federal court dismissed much of her debt, allowing her to keep her prized possessions.

Toni's complicated abortion history

In Toni Braxton's memoir, "Unbreak My Heart" (via The Atlantic), the singer revealed that she'd had an abortion in her early 30s, while in a relationship with ex-husband Keri Lewis. As she elaborated during an interview with ET, Braxton was taking the acne medication Accutane at the time of the decision — a drug with the potential to cause serious side effects to fetuses. Eventually, however, she made the final call based on a series of factors. 

"I felt selfish because I was thinking, I'm going through bankruptcy — there's things going on with my life and I can't give this kid any future," she explained. "I was feeling hopeless for no reason, when I look at it now for no reason, what was I thinking?" Braxton went on to have two children with Lewis at the start of the early '00s. Their youngest, Diezel Braxton, was diagnosed with autism when he was 3. In her memoir, Braxton courted controversy when she appeared to express her belief that her son's neurodivergence was punishment for having once terminated a pregnancy. Per Daily News, she wrote, "[I] believed that God's payback was to give my son autism." 

In an open letter to the star, Autism Daily Newcast shared their disappointment at Braxton's words, and their potential damage. Meanwhile, Braxton agreed with a fan on Twitter who suggested her words had been taken out of context, and she'd never claimed autism was the result of God's wrath.