Amid a Jackson family media spectacle and onslaught of bizarre accusations, a new figure surfaced from the musical dynasty – TJ Jackson, son of Tito, nephew of Michael, and now temporary guardian of the late pop star’s three children, Prince Michael, Paris and Blanket.
According to an order filed in the Superior Court of California on Wednesday, TJ, 34, received temporary custody of Michael’s three children from their grandmother Katherine, 82, after she went missing over the weekend. Some reports indicated she was on medical getaway while others suggested she was held against her will by her children, who are currently battling Michael’s estate executors over what they believe is a forged will.
Nevertheless, Wednesday’s priority was the kids.
“There are only three words I want to say: always kids first,” TJ Jackson said outside the court following the hearing.
In court, TJ claimed his grandmother had been acting strangely the night prior to the hearing, and was slurring her words on the phone. The court order specified that Katherine must return home to California and re-establish communication with the kids if she intends to regain custody. The judge additionally ordered that both Diana Ross, whom Michael Jackson appointed secondary guardian in his will, and Debbie Rowe, mother of Prince and Paris, receive notice of the decision within 48 hours. He advised TJ to seek permanent guardianship based on the details of the hearing, and scheduled a follow-up session in 30 days.
“I’ve known TJ for years. He is an outstanding father to his own children, and I personally think this was a great decision for the children,” Jodi Gomes, Executive Producer of The Jacksons and manager of Tito Jackson told theGrio on Thursday. “I think the children need someone to love them, and TJ has always been there for them before, even before Michael passed. They need someone who will unequivocally be there and he’s good fit for a temporary situation.”
Gomes also expressed sincere love for Katherine Jackson, commenting, “Marlon, Tito and Jackie made a brave decision to step up and tell the honest truth about how they felt about the estate and all that’s actively going around. The situation with their mom has, quite frankly, been blown completely out of proportion. I’m glad Mrs. Jackson is back. I am probably one of the most loyal people to Mrs. Jackson, but in light of all that’s gone on, I fully support TJ.”
Despite the domestic drama, what may be most striking about the turn of events is the emergence of TJ, a relatively off-the-radar member of the clan now taking the lead. A source close to the family tells theGrio that TJ was always tight-knit with Michael, spending time with him at Neverland Ranch, and touring with him in the ‘90s. Michael became a mentor for TJ when he, along with brothers Taj and Taryll, formed the band 3T in the mid-90s. Michael signed the band to his vanity label, MJJ Music, which co-produced and released the group’s first album, Brotherhood in 1995, distributed through Epic Records. The pop icon was featured on two of the group’s singles, “Why” and “I Need You.”
For their sophomore release, 3T went independent, putting out the album Identity in 2004 on their own imprint, distributed by Warner Music.
Neither album was met with great success in the U.S., the first selling just shy of 280,000 units according to Soundscan, and the second, not even 1,000. Internationally, the records found more love, scoring several top ten Billboard hits in the U.K.