3T’s debut was dedicated to the memory of their mother, Delores “Dee Dee” Jackson, who drowned in 1994 during their recording sessions. At the time of her death, Dee Dee was divorced from Tito, and, as reported by People in 1995, her passing was initially ruled accidental. Later, the sons filed a wrongful death suit, claiming she was murdered by her boyfriend. TJ was a senior in high school that year, a student with a 3.5 grade point average attending The Buckley School in Sherman Oaks. The school is a private institution where Michael’s children, Prince and Paris, are currently enrolled.
In 1996, the Los Angeles Times ran a feature about TJ, describing him as being equally committed to his musical career as his baseball team. The interest in both sports and entertainment made the young artist’s schedule challenging, but he managed to successfully tour Europe with 3T, and make it home for games in between shows.
“My life is pretty crazy right now,” he said. “It’s a lot of planes and hotels and once in a while a baseball field…Both are equally as important to me. I’ve been singing and playing baseball for my entire life and I love them both.”
TJ was also said to have dated Kim Kardashian for four years around that time, commenting to People, “We became extra close when my mom passed away. She dropped everything to be with me.”
Rumors have spread over the past few weeks that Kardashian lost her virginity to TJ, as she admitted to Oprah Winfrey in June on Oprah’s Next Chapter that she first had sex at the age of 14, which is right about the time she’s being linked to Michael’s nephew.
TMZ reports that Kardashian recently told friends, “TJ was the closest to Michael and his kids;” that he had a “father-like” relationship with the children; and that “he’s a very honest and trustworthy person and everyone knows he’ll do the right thing.”
In 2007, TJ married his current wife, Frances, and they have three children together, a son named Royal, and two daughters, Dee Dee and Jordan. A source tells theGrio that TJ has said, “he loved kids and would like to raise as many as a baseball team.” TJ and his brothers put their careers on hold after Michael’s death to support their cousins, and “TJ takes the kids to theme parks and the movies.” The source also noted TJ’s son is “about a year older than Blanket, and they are best friends.”
More recently, TJ appeared with his brothers alongside Prince and Paris to receive Michael’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2010 Grammy Awards, as well as at Michael’s Hollywood Handprint Ceremony at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in January.
No details have emerged yet as to whether the children will leave their current home under the new arrangements, though some comments from family members suggest TJ was taking care of them prior to Wednesday’s hearing in their grandmother’s house. Along with official guardianship, TJ will now receive financial assistance from the Jackson estate, but no amounts have been disclosed.
The family continues to throw banter on the matter around to the press and via Twitter. TMZ has published a series of reports claiming Katherine’s children conspired against her, that she was drugged and kidnapped, that she wanted TJ to take custody of the kids, and that conversely, she was devastated by his move.
In an interview Wednesday night on ABC’s Nightline, Katherine, with her children behind her, said, “There are rumors going around about me that I have been kidnapped and held against my will…I am here today to let everybody know that I’m fine…My children would never do a thing like that.”
In her absence, she said her assistant had been contacting her grandson to check on the children, and commented, “The ruling today was about the guardianship and I think it was based on a bunch of lies. But I have a good idea who’s doing that or who’s behind it…I told [TJ] it wasn’t necessary for him to go down for guardianship.”
Michael’s brother Randy took to Twitter to voice his discord over TJ’s decision, tweeting Wednesday afternoon that “his performance in court today breaks my heart. He knows his aunts and uncles would never hold their mother against her will. That’s ABSURD…THIS IS NOT OVER…Again…WHY would it be necessary for TJ to take guardianship of the children away from my mother when they were already in his care?”
TheGrio reached out to representatives of the Jackson family members, but none could be reached for comment.
Follow Courtney Garcia on Twitter at @courtgarcia