Nick Gordon died on Jan. 1, 2020 of a suspected drug overdose, according to multiple reports. He was just 30 years old. TMZ obtained audio from a 911 call made to get Gordon help the night of his passing. The caller said that Gordon wasn’t breathing, and described a black discharge emitting from his mouth, which the tab reported is a possible symptom of an opioid overdose.
No official cause of death has been reported as of this writing, and toxicology results can take weeks to be revealed, but People reported that the young man overdosed on heroin. According to the Daily Mail, Gordon suffered heart attacks in the hours leading up to his death. He was brought into the intensive care unit at Altamonte Springs Hospital in Florida, where he was eventually pronounced dead.
On top of being short, Gordon’s life was also troubled and traumatic. Though mostly known for his associations with Whitney Houston and Bobbi Kristina Brown, for better or worse, there was more to Nick Gordon than meets the eye (or the headlines).
Family turmoil led Nick Gordon to Whitney Houston
The reasons why Nick Gordon moved in with Whitney Houston aren’t entirely clear. He explained on Dr. Phil that his mother, Michelle, was moving to Florida and he didn’t want to go, expounding, « I probably wasn’t the brightest child. I gave my mom a couple problems and I didn’t agree with my stepdad on a few things. »
Gordon said Houston asked him to move in with her and Bobbi Kristina Brown after Bobby Brown moved on with another woman, with whom he had another child. « If I had to take a guess, they were very lonely, they were hurting, » he said, adding, « I guess I was trustworthy or the guy to move in. » He added that Bobby didn’t see Bobbi Kristina often, which hurt Bobbi Kristina, though she didn’t discuss it often.
Gordon said that he only met Bobby « like once, » and said it felt a bit like a relief when Bobby left the family home. He was a high school junior when he moved in and worked at a gym, but says he dropped out of school and that Houston told him he didn’t need to work anymore once he moved in with her.
Though Gordon had been estranged from his mother, after Bobbi Kristina’s bathtub drowning that ultimately led to her death, he and Michelle reconnected — and she reportedly was the one to reach out to Dr. Phil McGraw in an effort to save Gordon’s life.
The surviving Houstons never trusted Nick Gordon
Though Nick Gordon and Bobbi Kristina Brown maintained that they had a platonic, sibling-like relationship for a long time, when the relationship became romantic, the Houstons tried to intervene. In 2013, Cissy Houston (above), Bobbi Kristina’s grandmother, wrote an open letter in 2013 imploring Bobbi Kristina to not marry Nick. A source close to the Houston family told People that they believed that Nick was a negative influence on Bobbi Kristina, and that he took advantage of his relationship with the budding songbird. Another source claimed that Whitney Houston may not have realized that Nick and Bobbi Kristina were romantically involved before her death in 2012. Their concerns fell on deaf ears, but they got what they wanted in a way: Nick and Bobbi Kristina never officially married — though they almost did. Nick told the Daily Mail that he and Bobbi Kristina bailed on their courthouse wedding at the last minute, because the wait was too long and they had a prior engagement to attend. He also confessed in the same interview that he had gotten Bobbi Kristina pregnant more than once, but that they’d « suffered a few miscarriages. »
After Nick’s death in January 2020, his brother Jack Walker, Jr. told People, « There was not a day that went by that he didn’t get emotional about [Bobbi Kristina]. He would always say to me, ‘I wish I could have done things differently, man. I wish things had been different. She shouldn’t have gone the way she did.' »
Nick Gordon tried to get clean after Bobbi Kristina Brown’s bathtub incident
After Bobbi Kristina Brown’s drowning, Nick Gordon tried to get sober. He reportedly quit using cocaine and heroin, but didn’t stop using prescription drugs or abusing alcohol. He went to rehab at the behest of his mother and Dr. Phil McGraw, following a binge of whiskey and pills, with a source alleging that Gordon was at risk of kidney failure and death prior to the intervention.
Speaking with Radar Online, a friend of Brown, Steven Stepho, said that prior to the intervention, Brown and Gordon used drugs together daily. Although the type and amounts allegedly varied depending on their cash flow at a given time, Stepho told the tab that « it wasn’t unusual » for Brown and Gordon to drop « $1,000 a day » on heroin, Xanax, marijuana and other opioids. Stepho also said that they would frequently be « passed out for hours » and that Brown was usually littered with cigarette burns from passing out while smoking.
Still, Gordon reportedly attempted to get and stay clean after McGraw’s intervention. His lawyer, Joe S. Habachy, told People, « Despite all of the incredible challenges Nick faced over the last few years I can honestly say that he worked hard to hold his head up and stay sober and that he genuinely wanted a happy healthy life with his family more than anything else. »
Was Nick Gordon responsible for Bobbi Kristina’s death?
Although Nick Gordon was held legally responsible for Bobbi Kristina Brown’s death, it was basically a technicality. According to ET, Brown’s court-appointed conservator filed a $10 million wrongful death lawsuit against Gordon in the summer of 2015. After failing to appear in court, the judge « entered default judgment against [Gordon]. » In November 2016, a judge awarded Brown’s estate damages in excess of $36 million — to be paid by Gordon, according to the Associated Press.
People additionally reported that Gordon was accused of physically assaulting Brown and leaving her « battered and bruised, with a tooth knocked out. » The wrongful death suit also alleged that Gordon placed an unconscious Brown in the bathtub the night she drowned and injecting her with a « toxic mixture. » It should be noted, however, that Brown was never charged with any crime related to Brown’s death. The suit also alleged that Gordon tried to isolate Brown from her family and control her finances.
Gordon vehemently denied allegations of domestic violence towards Brown and told the Daily Mail in April 2016 that he attempted to save her life after she was discovered in the bathtub. « I dropped down to my knees, and I just started giving [chest] compressions as hard as I could and blowing in her mouth, » he recalled, adding, « There was like a sigh of relief at one point. She spit up water. She did it on her own. I thought she was going to wake up. »
Did Nick Gordon use a controversial method of trying to revive Bobbi Kristina Brown?
While Nick Gordon claimed he used chest compressions to try to resuscitate Bobbi Kristina Brown, Whitney And Bobbi Kristina: The Price Of Fame author Ian Halperin alleges that Gordon may have used a much more dangerous method to try to revive the love of his life. In an op-ed for the Daily Mail, Halperin says he conducted over 250 interviews with sources close to Brown and her family and that he believes Gordon didn’t rely on CPR alone in his efforts.
« Using a dangerous and controversial technique common among addicts known as The Plunge, he dragged her body to the bathroom, stripped her and pushed her into a bath filled with freezing water and ice cubes, » Halperin speculated of the night of Brown’s drowning. « Gordon will have repeatedly dunked her head under the water and slapped her face in the hope she would regain consciousness. He probably knocked out a tooth and bashed her face against the bath, causing those bruises. » Halperin alleged that when Brown still didn’t wake up, that’s when Gordon and Lomas called 911. Aside from his purported interviews, Halperin produced no additional evidence for his theory, but regardless of whatever resuscitation methods were used, it was too late for Brown.
At one point, Nick Gordon was suicidal
Nick Gordon’s mother, Michelle, revealed on Dr. Phil (via Radar Online) that Gordon was so wracked with guilt over the loss of Whitney Houston and the condition of Bobbi Kristina Brown after the bathtub drowning (but before her actual death) that he repeatedly spoke about suicide, and even attempted it once.
However, in the days leading up to his death — which, at the time of this writing, is not being investigated as a possible suicide — Gordon was reportedly in good spirits. His father told the Daily Mail, « I spoke with Nick during the day. He seemed happy, he seemed calm, everything was going good. He was a free spirit, he was in a good state of mind. Everything that Nick was doing was great. He told me 2020 was going to be better than 2019. He had a great job. »
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
Nick Gordon and Bobbi Kristina Brown had a toxic circle of friends
After Nick Gordon’s passing from a likely overdose in January 2020, Gordon’s attorney, Joe S. Habachy, hinted that Gordon and Bobbi Kristina Brown were in a sad circle of acquaintances. He told People in a statement, « While I cannot speak to the specific circumstances of his death, I can say that it’s been truly heartbreaking to have witnessed first hand the total devastation that drug addiction has wreaked upon a group of young friends, all of whom were loved and had immense potential. »
Habachy wasn’t exaggerating. Less than a year before Brown drowned, one of her best friends, Chelsea Bennett, died of a heroin overdose, People reported. Several people, including Cory Ben-Hanania, who later pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, were criminally charged in relation to Bennett’s death. In addition, People reported that Brown and Gordon’s friend Maxwell Byron Lomas —one of the people who found Brown in the bathtub when she drowned — faced drug and weapons possession charges in 2015; TMZ reported that Lomas denied selling drugs to Gordon. In August 2018, TMZ reported that Lomas died from a fentanyl overdose.
Bobby Brown blames Nick Gordon for Bobbi Kristina’s death
While Bobbi Kristina Brown was on life support for months in the aftermath of her bathtub incident, Bobby Brown and the Houstons reportedly « offered an opportunity [for Nick Gordon] to potentially visit » her, however, Gordon « declined to meet the terms. » That’s according to Bobby Brown’s attorney, who spoke with ET about the growing tensions between Nick and Bobbi Kristina’s extended family at the time. The same outlet reported that when Nick asked to attend Bobbi Kristina’s funeral, « his request was denied. »
Since then, Bobby hasn’t minced words about his feelings for Nick. Bobby’s attorney said in a statement (via Us Weekly) in 2015, shortly after the release of Bobbi Kristina’s autopsy results, that Nick « harmed Bobbi Kristina Brown. » Bobby also told Robin Roberts on Good Morning America in 2016 that he doesn’t think it was a coincidence that Nick was present not only when Bobbi Kristina died, but also when Whitney Houston died, both in eerily similar ways.
Bobby then told Rolling Stone in March 2018 that the only way he’d feel justice was served is if Nick went to prison and had, in no uncertain terms, a traumatic experience there. Five months later, he told Entertainment Tonight of Nick, « My daughter’s gone, man. For him — he’ll get his. God don’t like ugly. »
Nick Gordon was accused of domestic violence—but his accuser recanted
In June 2017, Nick Gordon was arrested after his then-girlfriend Laura Leal accused him of brutally attacking her. Leal confessed to the Daily Mail, « I’ve been reading the reports about Bobbi Kristina and I’m physically shaking. I read about her being isolated, her family not knowing where she was, the manipulation, the bullying — it’s the exact same thing. That could have been me. »
In March 2018, TMZ reported Gordon was arrested for domestic violence again after Leal accused him of hitting her in the face, but she later wrote a letter recanting her claims. TMZ reported that Gordon was actually the one to call 911 to report the incident, and bodycam footage obtained by the outlet shows him sobbing when police arrived. TMZ reported that Gordon wasn’t charged criminally for the incident, but he did later face charges for breaking a no-contact order to be with Leal. Their relationship continued until Gordon’s death, though it clearly wasn’t a healthy one. His brother Jack Walker, Jr., told People that Gordon became « distant » from Leal in the weeks leading up to his passing and that they’d been living apart.