Regina King built her name as a successful Hollywood actress with several accolades under her belt. Still, the most crucial role in her life is being a mother to her only child, Ian Jr., who recently took his own life.
Motherhood is one of the most important and fulfilling jobs in the world that no one but a mother would understand. So when Regina King had a child, she understood and appreciated her own mom's love and sacrifices on a deeper level.
Gearing up to become a parent did not come with a manual, but because of the many ups and downs the award-winning actress went through, she knew she would handle motherhood well. Truth be told, she did an impeccable job raising her only son, Ian Jr., single-handedly.
A side-by-side photo of Regina George and her late son, Ian Alexander Jr. | Source: Getty Images | Instagram.com/desdunemjv
After 26 years of raising Ian Jr., King had several opportunities to impart what she had learned and experienced in her journey. Although she has a successful career, nothing is as rewarding and fulfilling as being a mother, which she only realized once she played the part. She said:
"You don't know what unconditional love is. You may say you do, but if you don't have a child, you don't know what that is."
While the actress seemed to be handling motherhood well, it did not always come easy for the "If Beale Street Could Talk" star, especially after her divorce from Ian Jr.'s father, Ian Alexander. According to King, "It's difficult, but far from impossible, and we smile more than we cry."
Regina King poses for a photo for "Southland" Season 1. | Source: Getty Images
The "A Cinderella Story" star welcomed her son in 1996 and married Alexander Sr. in 1997, then the vice president of Qwest Records. Unfortunately, their marriage was fueled by several arguments and hardship. Eventually, they realized it was best to go separate ways. King said:
"It's kind of crazy to think I've now been divorced longer than I was married."
Initially, King endured the challenge of going through a divorce while watching her son suffer the consequences. However, she drew strength and courage from the support her mother gave.
FOCUSING ON IAN JR.
"Because of our issues, Ian was becoming the kid whose parents were so disconnected that they couldn't even sit next to each other, let alone have a civilized conversation," she said.
At first, the divorce did not affect Ian Jr. as much. Despite their separation, she and her ex-husband always prioritized their son. They spoke and agreed to set their differences aside and co-parent Ian Jr. until he became an adult. As their son grew up, he understood his parents' situation more. King said:
"[I'm] just glad that we all made it to the other side. We redefined what it means to be a family."
While taking care of her son, King had to continue her career to make a living. Naturally, balancing work and life became difficult to the point that she acknowledged that "sometimes it's not balanced." Still, she made an effort to do both jobs well, including rejecting opportunities outside of her home in Los Angeles.
In January 2022, King's heart broke into pieces after learning of her son's death.
King wanted to keep her son under her radar while maintaining a stable career. "Making the tough choice leads you down a beautiful path," she said. King had always wanted to become an actress and knew the job was meant for her. However, sacrifices had to be made as a mother.
IAN AS AN ADULT
Things became a lot easier for King when her son went to college. He lived an independent lifestyle and relied less on his mother. Although King still checked up on him, she had more time to do what she wanted. She said:
"With my son in college, it just opened things up a lot. So, I'm still a mom, but I'm doing more things now that Regina wants to do. The balance is different."
Ian Jr. grew up to be a well-rounded individual, allowing the mom-of-one to realize that the greatest pleasure of life and the "greatest part about me -- being a mom to Ian."
In January 2022, King's heart broke into pieces after learning of her son's death. According to the actress' representative, Ian Jr. took his life at 26. Through her statement, King said:
"Our family is devastated at the deepest level by the loss of Ian. He is such a bright light who cared so deeply about the happiness of others."
Ian Jr. was a musician and DJ, performing under the name Desdune. On January 7, 2022, he released the single "Green Eyes" and had scheduled performances around Los Angeles. The tragedy undoubtedly left King devastated as she tried to cope privately with her son's passing.
BOND BETWEEN MOTHER AND SON
The "Watchmen" actress had a special bond with her son until the end. Previously, she revealed that they had matching tattoos that read "unconditional love" in Aramaic. She also said:
"That mama bear thing where I'll do anything for my child, I'm one of those moms, I'll give my right arm – and that's my writing arm – for my child's safety[...]."
Ian Jr.'s death came as a shock to everyone, especially King, as he seemed to be well in the days leading up to his death. King asked her fans to respect their family's privacy during their time of grieving.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org.
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