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Comedian Rickey Smiley opens up in first interview since son’s death: ‘You can never be prepared’

 (Getty Images for BET)
(Getty Images for BET)

Comedian Rickey Smiley has opened up for the first time about the death of his son, Brandon.

The comedian and host appeared on the Today show on Thursday 2 March, where he spoke about the death of his 32-year-old son Brandon Smiley, who passed away on 29 January 2023 from what he believes to be a drug overdose.

Speaking to host Craig Melvin, the Rickey Smiley Morning Show presenter recalled the day he received “the call that no parent wants to get”.

“I was in Dallas in my apartment getting ready to watch the playoff and his girlfriend called,” Smiley said on the morning talk show. “She said that, in her words, that he had OD’d.”

He then received a second phone call from Brandon’s younger sister, Taylor, who had informed the father of four that his son had passed. Smiley admitted to Melvin that Brandon “was struggling” with substance abuse at the time of his death, and had a history of drug use.

“He was struggling with that,” Smiley said. “His mother and I made several attempts to try to send him to get the help that he needed – send him to rehab. We thought that he was doing better. He had just joined the church and he had just gotten baptised again, probably a month before he passed away.”

“He used, and it killed him,” the 54-year-old comedian said.

Smiley went on to say that he was “shocked, but not surprised” by his son’s death, adding: “Deep inside, I was kind of prepared for it, but at the same time when it happens you can never be prepared because that’s your child.

“If anything makes me cry, it’s God’s goodness to be able to get out of the bed, to be able to  do my morning show, to be able to protect the rest of my kids.”

On 29 January, the actor revealed the news that his son Brandon had passed in an Instagram video. “I lost my oldest son #BrandonSmiley this morning,” he captioned the post. “I’m okay, but please pray for my son’s mother Brenda, his siblings and his daughter Storm.”

The Jefferson County Coroner’s Office reported at the time that Brandon was found unresponsive at his home the morning of 29 January, according to WVTM 13. During his Today show appearance, Smiley revealed that the family has not received a toxicology report and an official cause of death is pending.

Brandon Smiley is survived by his three-year-old daughter, Storm.