Jada Pinkett Smith Gets Candid About Father's Addiction Struggles

By Keri Blakinger 12/11/18

“Once he did get sober, he was really a gentle soul. Now that I’m older, I have so much more compassion in knowing what he had gone through,” said Jada Pinkett Smith about her late father.

Jada Pinkett Smith discussed her father's addiction on her talk show
Photo via YouTube

Actress Jada Pinkett Smith opened up last week with tough memories about her father and his struggle with addiction before his 2010 death from a drug overdose, according to USA Today.

Joined by her mother, daughter and half-brother Caleeb, Pinkett Smith delved into the “shared source of pain” during her Facebook Watch show Red Table Talk, which drew more than 5 million views in less than a week. 

"He told me at 7, 'I can't be your father. I'm a criminal, I'm an addict and that's just what it is,'" the 47-year-old Matrix actress said. Growing up, she said, Robsol Pinkett Jr.’s addiction was a source of resentment for the rest of the family.

"We had that feeling like we had to be responsible for him,” Pinkett Smith said, “but he never had to be responsible for us, and that was a hard pill for me to swallow."

For years, the family weathered his abusive behavior, even when at times he was “typically drunk,” Pinkett Smith said. Eventually, though, he sobered up. 

“Once he did get sober, he was really a gentle soul,” she said. “Now that I’m older, I have so much more compassion in knowing what he had gone through.”

Then, just before his death, the actress and her father got in a fight.

“The most difficult part of him dying like that is because he and I had had a horrendous fight when I found out that he relapsed,” she said. “I was like, ‘I don’t owe you nothing. You didn’t do shit for me, you didn’t do shit for Caleeb. I don’t owe you nothing.’ It was one of those.”

It was only after he died that Pinkett Smith and her siblings were able to find forgiveness. 

"I had the most startling realization that Rob’s life wasn’t about him being my father," she said. "Rob’s life was about Rob being on his journey, and it just so happened along the way that he gave me life.”

It was an “aha” moment, she said.

“I realized he was not born to be my dad,” she explained. “That wasn’t the only thing he was here to do. He’s a person first, with his own journey."

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Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.