Brian McKnight has yet to find redemption among fans, who are disappointed in his public disregard for his estranged adult children.
After celebrating his 54th birthday on June 5, the R&B singer agitated social media users when he uploaded photos of himself, his wife Leilani Mendoza, and their youngest and 5-month-old son, Brian Kainoa Makoa McKnight.
He shared two images of him with his wife in the hospital bed on Instagram with the caption, “My EVERYTHING. This is the reason I was born, my reason for living.”
McKnight and Leilani have been married since December 2017. She has two older children from a previous relationship, a daughter named Julia and a son named Jack. Prior to welcoming the newest addition to their family, they experienced the loss of their son, Kekoa Matteo, who died shortly after birth in 2022.
The Grammy-nominated vocalist has two sons, Brian Jr. and Niko, from his previous marriage to Julie McKnight. He also has a daughter named Briana McKnight from a previous relationship.
The comments on his latest post have been limited, seemingly to thwart the onslaught of backlash the “Back at One” artist would likely face from critics. However, that did not stop screenshots of the post from being shared across social media via The Neighborhood Talk.
Reactions to it included:
“HE WOKE UP AND CHOSE VIOLENCE TODAY!”
“He is so wack lol he really canceled his kids and got new ones.”
“He’s trolling… I’m not even his child and it hurt me lmao.”
“I am convinced he’s gaslighting his children atp.”
The once-beloved songwriter first ignited a wave of controversy last December, after sharing a loving post celebrating his stepdaughter’s birthday with the purchase of a 2023 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe.
“Today we celebrate you Jules on your birthday your mom, and I couldn’t be prouder of you, and I couldn’t ask for a better daughter than you!” he wrote. Those who spoke out against his remarks took issue with his disregard for his biological daughter.
Public offense to his declarations for his new family grew stronger last month, when he shared posts addressing the backlash and claims that he abandoned his three adult children. He alleged that his new family was being accosted in public, forcing him to defend and protect them in a video.
“The children that I do not currently have relationships with, I do not post about them,” he said. “Instead, I post about the children with whom I do have relationships, with whom I am proud of and about whom I want to share their accomplishments.”
Along with a snippet of the video, he shared photos of court documents from a 2020 case between him and Briana. His daughter sued him after he publicly accused her of being sexually involved with an older cousin. The defamation suit was settled with Brian Sr. agreeing to pay $318,000 earlier this year.
Other images in the post included those of his sons with Mendoza’s two kids, as well as those that showed the men in suits as they stood by their father’s side at his 2017 wedding. In the past, both Brian Jr. and Niko have claimed that the singer cut them off.
Brian Sr. publicly addressed those claims too, stating that he “never missed a day of child support. I’ve never done anything adverse to my children whatsoever… I’ve always been the one who had to help them achieve whatever dreams that they were wanting to reach out for.”
He claims that Brian Jr. and Niko grew up feeling entitled and that he cut them off, respectively, at ages 25 and 22, after paying their way through life.
As their familial drama turned into social media fodder, Julie, his former wife of 13 years, sent a clear message, telling him to not poke the bear.