Bobby Brown had an amazing career run in the ’80s and early ’90s. The popularity of New Edition helped him launch a promising solo career and he was on his way to becoming an R&B icon. When he began dating superstar Whitney Houston, this promise shot through the roof as the couple’s infection chemistry and over-the-top public displays became more popular than their music. While the years of Bobby and Whitney are far behind them, Bobby and his current wife, Alicia Etheredge-Brown, say its still a struggle to get out from under the looming shadow of the pop diva, something Alicia has had to learn to live with.
Bobby Brown will be the subject of an upcoming A&E documentary. Biography: Bobby Brown will premier on May 30th and cover his life under a new lens. His past was previously explored in two BET original biopics and a handful of films on Lifetime, unpacking the lives and deaths of his ex-wife and their daughter Bobbi Kristina.
While their marriage may follow that of his and Whitney’s, Bobby and Alicia have actually known each other since the ’80s. During an interview with PEOPLE.com, Alicia recalls fondly how much energy Bobby had back in the days and how much fun he was to be around.
Bobby and Whitney had a tumultuous affair. Houston was America’s sweetheart, and Brown was considered a “bad boy.” When rumors began to circulate about their drug abuse and fighting, many pointed to Brown as the culprit. In the years since, however, it has been revealed that Whitney introduced him to drugs and that prior to their divorce, he had actually gotten sober. Brown said he did it for daughter Bobbi Kristina, but that Whitney’s family still pushed for their divorce in 2007, claiming Brown was the bad apple of the two. Whitney would, of course, pass away five years later after passing out from drugs and drowning in the shower. Brown claims in his new documentary that had he and Whitney stayed together that she would still be alive because he understood her and felt like he would have helped her kick addiction.
Alicia was around through it all and, in a surprising fun fact, was actually the one to get Brown to the alter to marry Houston after he’d locked himself in a bathroom thanks to pre-wedding jitters. Alicia recalls talking to him calmly through the door and getting him to finally come out and face his fears after all his groomsmen and family could not convince him to talk. Alicia assured him that everything would be ok and that they needed to “get this show on the road. We’re here. This is happening.”
They remained friends for years following this, but Alicia took a renewed interest in Brown following his split from Houston in 2007. She recalled seeing him at a low point and fighting to find his “spark” again. Alicia says that they began to work together on his career but quickly became romantic as well. They got married in 2012 and shared three children (Cassius, 13, Bodhi, 6, and Hendrix, 5).
Alicia has had the difficult task of loving her husband through some pretty devastating losses. Of course, the loss of Whitney Houston was hard for him. Even sadder, Whitney Houston passed away the same year he married Alicia. In a sadly ironic turn of events, daughter Bobbi Kristina would also lose her life in a similar fashion to her mother, passing out in a tub following. She remained in a coma for several months before they finally let her pass peacefully – which Brown credits Whitney for speaking to him in his dreams and telling him to ‘let her baby go.’
In November 2020, Brown also lost a son, Bobby Brown Jr. Bobby Jr. was also the victim of an accidental overdose. He was only 28 years old.
In a heartbreaking interview, Brown discussed how he speaks to his lost children in his dreams. He says the dreams usually take place at a beach or field and that the half-siblings are always together and running away from him while laughing. He says they only began after Brown Jr. died and have been constant ever since.
Alicia has not only lifted him up and taken care of him through all the hurt but has also become an advocate for drug abuse in honor of Bobbi Kristina and Bobby Jr. Alicia understands Brown’s past and the things he’s gone through but has decided that it comes with the territory and would not want to be with anyone else.
As they approach their 10th anniversary, Alicia acknowledges how Brown’s career and relationship with Whitney can overshadow their marriage, but she is very secure in their union. She calls herself the “ying” to his “yang” and appreciates that he was able to come out of his marriage to Houston and find her and love once again. “I also came from a place,” she tells PEOPLE. “So knowing that he loved hard and came out the other end and somehow we were meant to be and found each other again, that is what I focus on.”