Tuesday night on 20/20, a distraught Bobby Brown sat for an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts, blaming the deaths of his pop superstar ex-wife Whitney Houston and their 22-year-old daughter Bobbi Kristina on one culprit: Nick Gordon.
“It’s not a mystery to me,” Brown said in the wide-ranging interview that mostly revolved around Houston, her 2012 death, and the tragic toll it took on Bobbi Kristina, who was found unresponsive in a bathtub almost three years to the day that her mother died in eerily similar fashion at the age of 48. “The same thing that happened to my daughter is what happened to Whitney.”
It’s not the first time Brown has publicly accused his daughter’s boyfriend, whom Whitney raised like her own son since adolescence, of being responsible for Bobbi Kristina’s death. Last month he joined a $10 million lawsuit accusing Gordon of poisoning Bobbi Kristina with a “toxic mixture” before placing her face down in a bathtub, where she incurred the brain damage that led to her medically induced coma and eventual death.
“There’s only one person that was around both occasions, only one person who says they were there to protect them,” he told Roberts, refusing to speak Gordon’s name aloud. “And he didn’t.
“He knows what happened. I don’t know what happened that night, but he does.”
The hour-long sit-down was so juicy ABC aired it a full three days earlier than 20/20’s usual Friday night slot, and the network gleefully touted its sensational reveals for days—along with Brown’s upcoming June 13 memoir Every Little Step. The most click-baity of them all: Brown’s modest assertion that one time, in his Georgia mansion, he woke up in the night to discover he was having sex… with a ghost.
The house, he explained with a painfully straight face, was “a really, really spooky place. I woke up and yeah… a ghost. I was being mounted by a ghost.”
To her credit Roberts, realizing she’d somehow accidentally happened upon ratings gold, managed to ask a follow-up question. Could it have been that Brown, who’d publicly struggled with substance abuse for years, was under the influence of some really strong drugs at the time?
“I wasn’t high,” said Brown. “I wasn’t high at all. No, I was not tripping.”
The “My Prerogative” singer shrugged, offering the understatement of the year: “I have had crazy situations.”
Brown teased another crazy situation, to the shock of Houston fans, that he reveals in his forthcoming book: On their wedding day in 1992, he discovered his blushing bride “hunched over a bureau, snorting a line of coke.” What’s more, he claims, she offered him a hit that he says he declined.
Regaling 20/20 with that tale, Brown fondly remembered a Whitney who, yes, became a drug addict like himself. But he insisted Houston, who died of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use—with cocaine and other drugs in her system at the time of her death—never let it ruin her life.
“She did drugs, but drugs didn’t do her,” said Brown. “She knew how to handle herself… It only made me love and want to protect her more.”
Brown’s emotional interview was marked by genuine moments of grief as he detailed the devastating losses of the two women he loved, tears streaming down his face. But it also played into the deliberate narrative his forthcoming memoir (out June 13) sets out to establish, one that tells us we were wrong to always think of him as the R&B bad boy who corrupted America’s effervescent pop queen.
“In the late 1980s, the former frontman of New Edition had a wildly successful solo career—especially with the launch of Don’t Be Cruel—garnering multiple hits on the Billboard top ten list,” the book’s synopsis reads, “as well as several Grammy, American Music, and Soul Train awards. But Brown put his career on hold to be with the woman he loved—American music royalty Whitney Houston.”
The self-serving chronicle continues, blaming the pressures of fame and ugly tabloid rumors for unfairly making Brown out to be the bad guy:
“When he married the most celebrated singer in the world at the time, pop princess Whitney Houston, he began a life under a microscope. The couple’s every move was tracked, and jaw-dropping stories were told about drug addiction, physical violence, and worse, with Brown always cast as the villain. Forever branded, Brown was trapped in a spiral of rage against the media and drug addiction, fighting for the will to get himself clean and keep his family together.”
Poor Bobby Brown, according to Bobby Brown. Did we mention his memoir’s out on June 13?
Speaking to Roberts, Brown insisted it wasn’t him who got Whitney hooked on drugs to begin with, contrary to popular opinion. “It wasn’t me,” he said, wiping away tears. “I take my part, and I take it hard for me even being a part of it, but we all have our own minds and some of us are stronger than others.”
There’s no question Brown has suffered greatly, or that the deaths of Houston and Bobbi Kristina were exacerbated by the pressures of fame, addiction, and, some might argue, the toxicity of reality television that the entire family was swept up in. Bobbi Kristina, Brown says, was supposed to come join him in Los Angeles just days before she was discovered face down in the tub in her Georgia home.
“If I could get those two days back… my daughter would be here,” said Brown. “All I want is those two days back.”
Brown remarried in 2012 and has two young children with manager-wife Alicia Etheredge-Brown, with a third child on the way. But he told Roberts he’ll always love Houston, whom he divorced in 2007 after 14 years of marriage.
“I was deeply in love with her,” he said. “For the rest of my life, I think, I will have that feeling towards her because she was that one person that knew me, that one person that had no judgment.”
On Facebook Sunday, Brown’s sister Leolah Brown claimed that Houston and Bobbi Kristina were targets of a conspiracy that has Bobby in its sights next.
The perpetrators of said conspiracy? Gordon, Pat Houston, Ray J, and Etheredge-Brown, to name a few.
“Way too much is going on in the conspiracy and cover up of my sister and niece’s murder! AND NOW THEY ARE CONSPIRING TO COME FOR MY BROTHER BOBBY!” wrote Leolah Brown, who previously shared her Brown family conspiracy theories with TMZ. In particular, she’s long blamed Whitney’s sister Pat Houston for forcing Bobbi Kristina, who’d appeared with her parents on Being Bobby Brown, to star in reality show The Houstons: On Our Own too soon after Whitney’s death.
Meanwhile, Pat Houston, who runs her late sister’s estate—and alongside Cissy Houston, is being sued by Bobbi Kristina’s estate—drew intense criticism this week for putting over a hundred items belonging to Whitney up for auction, including her Whitney, I’m Your Baby Tonight, and The Bodyguard-era passport, several awards, and the Marc Bouwer-designed wedding gown she married Brown in circa 1992.
“We felt that it was time to give something of Whitney to the people who loved her and her music and, conversely, who Whitney loved back with all of her heart and soul,” said Pat Houston of the collection, which will be sold off in Beverly Hills later this month.
In any case, beneath the ongoing circus of their warring extended brood it’s the lingering tragedy of Bobbi Kristina’s untimely death that remains the most haunting consequence of the Brown-Houston relationship. Both came under fire for the fate that befell Bobbi Kristina, whose reported drug use echoed her parents’ long and public battles with substance abuse. Brown, again, denied responsibility for that, insisting that he’d never used in front of his daughter.
“I always made a point to not let her see me or my wife in that type of situation, in that type of feeling,” he said, adding, “it’s hard when, you know, you’re doing it every day.
“We could have been better. We should have been better,” he admits.
“The last thing I told her, I just said, ‘Let go.’ I said, ‘It’s okay, you can go with your mom, daddy’ll be all right. I love you. You can rest now. Hardest thing I had to do in my life was tell my daughter to let go.”