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Rickey Smiley Sends Open Letter To Late Son; Reveals Family’s History Of Addiction

BY Dora Dzaka January 2, 2024 5:22 PM EDT
Photo Credit: Facebook @Magic City Radar nsdpStroeo4

Rickey Smiley is remembering his eldest child, Brandon Smiley, for the light he carried and the lasting impact he left on his family.

The 32-year-old known as Brandon tragically passed away from fentanyl and ethanol toxicity at his Alabama home in January.

This holiday season marked Rickey’s first without his firstborn. A day after Christmas, Rickey Smiley published an open letter to his son, whom he calls his “hero,” which he shared with an online platform.

Rickey Smiley first began by recalling how Brandon was “one of the first true loves of my life.” He credited the young man with teaching him patience, perseverance, how to deeply love another, and how to show affection.

“My son and eldest child, Brandon, lost his long battle with addiction to painkillers last January at the age of 32. Sadly, he’s one of the thousands of young people who have succumbed to drug addiction in the past year. And it’s difficult to grasp that my son is part of a tragic statistic.

Brandon was one of the first true loves of my life. From him, I learned an abundance of important qualities: how to be more patient, how to love deeply, and how to be more affectionate. He showed me that we must keep pushing ahead in life, no matter what.

I am inspired by how hard my son always tried. He was always open about his struggle and worked tirelessly to overcome it. My own father had his battles with addiction, and while I know the disease can be hereditary, I was hoping that it would spare my children.

Even as he struggled, Brandon always tried to move forward. One month and a half before Brandon passed away, he got baptized. It was a meaningful commitment to connect deeply with his faith and to summon as much internal strength as possible. Faith has been key in my own life and has helped me weather life’s unpredictable storms. I was so proud that my son was tapping into the power that prayer can bring.

Brandon went to rehab many times—he was always willing to do the hard work to try to get well. But as any loved one suffering from addiction knows, it was a difficult cycle—he would get clean and then relapse again. It was back and forth all the time. The ups and downs took a toll on me, as I’m sure they did for him.

I so admired his kindness and thoughtfulness, no matter what he was going through.

Brandon was always a devoted caretaker to his three half-siblings: sisters D’Essence, Aaryn, and brother Malik. They looked up to him, and he showered them with constant love and attention. He was also working hard to be a good father to his three-year-old daughter, Storm, and was still performing standup comedy (I truly learned the art of sarcasm from him!).

When I define what a hero is, I envision someone who lights up a room and thinks about themselves before others—someone who is hard-working and brings joy to so many people. Brandon was that and so much more.

He is the hero that lights my way through life every day and will do so for the rest of my life.”