Comedian and radio host Rickey Smiley sat for his first interview since the death of his son, Brandon Smiley.
Brandon, 32, passed away unexpectedly on January 29. The distraught father announced Brandon’s death in an Instagram Live post.
Smiley told TODAY 3rd Hour co-host Craig Melvin that Brandon died from a drug overdose.
“You get the call that no parent wants to get — that your child has passed away,” Melvin said. “What happened, Rick?”
“I was in Dallas in my apartment getting ready to watch the playoff and his girlfriend called,” Smiley explained. “She said that, in her words, that he had OD’d.”
Smiley was on his way to the airport when Brandon’s girlfriend called again.
“I got a phone call on my way out the door … that he had passed. She was crying. And uh, yeah.”
Smiley said he hasn’t seen a toxicology report and an official cause of death is pending. But Brandon had a history of drug addiction.
“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 baptized again probably a month before he passed away.”
Smiley said his goal is to raise awareness of the issues surrounding drug addiction among affluent Black people.
“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.”
According to the CDC, 44% of Black Americans die from drug overdoses.
Watch the video below.