One month after the sudden death of Rickey Smiley‘s son Brandon made headlines, alleged details pointing to the cause of his death have been revealed.
The comedian appeared on the “Today” show on March 2, where he revealed that Brandon Smiley died of a suspected drug overdose. The 32-year-old was found ‘unresponsive’ in his home on Jan. 29 in Birmingham, Alabama.
Smiley said that he received a call from his son’s girlfriend, telling him that Brandon had overdosed. While Smiley noted that the family has not received an official cause of death or a toxicology report for Brandon, they believe he overdosed from drug use.
“This is just what we’re speculating according to his girlfriend, who found him, unresponsive,” he said.
Smiley said Brandon had struggled with addiction in the past and had been to rehab several times.
“I was in Dallas in my apartment getting ready to watch the playoff and his girlfriend called … She said that, in her words, she said that he had OD’d.”
Smiley added that as he rushed to make a flight out of Dallas, he received another phone call from Brandon’s sister Taylor saying that his son had died.
“I got a phone call on my way out the door … that he had passed,” said Smiley. “She was crying.”
He went on to say that Brandon struggled with addiction and had been doing well in the month prior to his death.
“He was struggling with that. His mother and I made several attempts to try to send him to get the help that he needed — send him to rehab. Um, and we thought that he was doing better. He had just joined the church and he had just gotten baptized, again, probably a month before he passed away,” he said, adding, “He used, and it killed him.”
Smiley also shared what Brandon’s personality was like and said he was a “prankster” who also wanted to perform.
“Fun. Funny. Always the leader, always the prankster,” said Smiley. “He was a great kid. He came to live with me at the end of his eighth-grade year. I wanted to , you know, have the opportunity to see him into his manhood … I had him on stage when he was seven years old. He wanted to perform. Just a great kid … a lot of fun.”
The comedian also noted that drug use is not restricted to poor communities or school districts.
“You don’t have to be in the hood to succumb to drug abuse,” he said. “We just assume that if you’re in a good school district or you’re in a gated community or everything is going good that these kids are not doing drugs.” Smiley said, “You don’t have to be in the hood to succumb to drug abuse.”
The 54-year-old previously spoke about the impact of drugs on his family and pleaded with parents to talk to their children about the dangers of drugs, especially fentanyl. On “The Rickey Smiley Morning Show” in June 2022, he shared that he had lost several family members, including his father, from addiction.
“I’ve seen drugs and how drugs has affected my family and things to me, you know, to be six years old, sitting down at seven years old sitting there on the front row with your dad in that casket,” Smiley explained.
He said his grandfather stepped up to raise him while he still grappled with the loss of his father.
“My grandfather stepped up to the plate. And, and completely raised me, but to lose my dad to drugs and see my mother struggled with drugs in the 80s. And, you know, now, I’ve lost a lot of relatives to drugs, you know.”
The “Friday After Next” actor recalled his mother going to NA (narcotics anonymous) meetings when he was a child. He revealed that she has been clean and sober for 34 years.
Smiley admitted he’s also lost his niece to drugs after a trip to the Bahamas.
“And then I took my niece Micah to the Bahamas, and we went to the Bahamas one weekend, and I got all these videos of us out there on the boat sitting on the beach and having a good time,” he remembered. “And one fentanyl pill. She was dead.”
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin. The drug is being added to heroin and other drugs to increase potency, unbeknownst to many drug users.
Smiley has opened up about seeking counseling and leaning on his spirituality to get him through as he goes back to work and continues raising his other children.