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Lionel Richie Saw Nicole, 2, on Stage and Promised to Never Leave Her - The Adoption Process Lasted 5 Years

Junie Sihlangu
Feb 19, 2022
07:00 P.M.
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Lionel Richie knew he had a connection with Nicole the minute he saw her for the first time. After finding out her family had issues, he most selflessly offered himself to her and her parents.


During a 2016 episode of Huffington Post's "Talk To Me" series, Lionel Richie and his daughter, Nicole Richie, interviewed each other. While attending a Prince concert in 1983, the singer revealed that he met the child he was meant to adopt in the future.

Nicole, two at the time, was seen playing the tambourine on stage with Prince in Los Angeles. Lionel got to meet her backstage after the event, and he realized he knew the little girl's parents.

Lionel Richie interviewed on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on April 19, 2019, and his daughter Nicole Richie at the Omega/Itzhak Pearlman Award Ceremonies Dinner  in New York City on September 5, 1985 | Photos: YouTube/Jimmy Kimmel Live & Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images


Peter Michael Escovedo, Nicole's father, was Lionel's drummer while her mother, Karen Moss, worked as a backstage assistant. The parents could not support their daughter, and Lionel realized that her "family situation was falling apart."

The "Hello" singer immediately wanted to assist. So he and his then-wife, Brenda Harvey-Richie, decided to give Nicole some stability by being her legal guardians or foster parents and nothing more.

Lionel and Nicole Richie at the "The Truth About Diamonds" book signing at the Virgin Mega Store in Times Square on November 10, 2005, in New York City | Photo: Brad Barket/Getty Images



According to a June 2013 Telegraph article, Lionel and Brenda started fostering little Nicole at the tender age of three. However, before that, in the Huffington Post interview, the artist revealed that he and his wife were worried about Nicole going on tour with her parents when she was three.

They knew she needed stability and to be stationary. He and his wife offered to keep the little girl with them, which ended up happening for two years, but they realized Nicole's family situation was getting much worse.

Lionel Richie at the 58th Annual Academy Awards on March 24, 1986, in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images


Lionel promised Nicole that he would always be there for her, but she was reserved and didn't trust him because of her background. The child had been handed over to different relatives and clearly had abandonment issues, but the star recalled his vow:

"I remember what I said to you. I said, 'I’m never, ever going to leave you.'"

Nicole and Lionel Richie, and Brenda Harvey-Richie at The Omega/Itzhak Pearlman Award Ceremonies Dinner in New York City on September 5, 1985 | Photo: Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images


During a 2015 Piers Morgan interview, Lionel shared that it took him a year to fall in love with Nicole, and by then, she'd started calling him "dad." He decided that he and Brenda would adopt her.

The process took five years, and when Nicole was nine, she was finally a Richie. The little child joining the family didn't only serve her, but her addition also played a vital role in the musician's life.

Lionel Richie and Brenda Harvey-Richie in an image taken by The LIFE Picture Collection in the US | Photo: The Time & Life Pictures Collection/Getty Images



Speaking to his now-grown daughter, the "Ballerina Girl" vocalist noted how she'd changed his life by softening his heart. He confessed that until Nicole came into his life, his focus was on touring, the business, and songwriting.

The star said he finally found something he could fall in love with that wouldn't leave him. Speaking to Telegraph, Nicole, in turn, noted that her childhood was just that as she didn't have anything to compare it to.

Lionel Richie during the Celebrity Fight Night gala celebrating Celebrity Fight Night on September 7, 2014, in Florence, Italy | Photo: Rachel Murray/Getty Images


She also noted that her father had previously confessed that he didn't think he'd been a good father to her. That was because the "All Night Long" singer toured frequently and was absent for long periods.

However, Nicole never felt the same way and thought he was too harsh on himself. When she looked back at her childhood, she thought she had a wonderful one and recalled wearing matching dresses with Brenda as they attended premieres.

Nicole Richie at the Baby2Baby Gala on November 11, 2017, in Culver City, California. | Source: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images



In a previous People article, it was revealed that Brenda was Lionel's first wife. Sadly, they separated and ended up divorcing a few years after they'd adopted Nicole, with reports stating that the artist's wife found him with dancer and fashion designer Diane Alexander.

Despite the divorce drama, Nicole remained a "godsend" in their lives. The "Three Times a Lady" vocalist and his wife might not have agreed on many things, but their adopted daughter was one thing they did agree on.

Lionel and Sofia Richie at the 26th annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party on March 4, 2018, in West Hollywood, California | Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images


The singer's adoptive daughter found herself caught in the middle of a very public and messy divorce. Lionel remained faithful to her, and over the years, he had to shut down rumors that she was his biological daughter through an affair.


Despite the hardships she has faced, "The Simple Life" reality star's father noted that she grew up to be "a fantastic young lady." She's now a mother who scolds Lionel when he uses bad words in front of her children.

Diana Alexander and Lionel Richie at the Friars Club Lifetime Achievement Award Gala honoring Earvin "Magic" Johnson on October 27, 2002, in Beverly Hills, California | Photo: Robert Mora/Getty Images


In February 2022, People revealed Nicole was married to Good Charlotte rock star Joel Madden. Together they share daughter Harlow, 14, and son Sparrow, 12, making the "Say You, Say Me" musician a grandfather twice.

In early 2019, he [Miles Richie] found himself in the spotlight for the wrong thing when he was allegedly detained by authorities at London's Heathrow Airport.

Lionel Richie performs onstage during Day 4 of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on May 3, 2018, in New Orleans, Louisiana | Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Getty Images



The "American Idol" judge married Alexander in 1996, three years after he divorced his first wife. The couple welcomed two children, son Miles, 27, and daughter Sofia, 23, before divorcing in 2004.

According to reports, the singer has not remarried since divorcing Alexander, but he was linked to model Lisa Parigi in recent years. The pair have allegedly been dating since 2014 and are said to be in love. 

Nicole, Lionel, Sofia, and Miles Richie at the Lionel Richie Hand And Footprint Ceremony at TCL Chinese Theatre on March 7, 2018, in Hollywood, California | Photo: Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images


Concerning Miles, he was born on May 27, 1994, and he's worked as a fashion model signed with the agency Wilhelmina. He's the only Richie child that not much is known about, which seems intentional for his part.

In November 2018, he told Garage that he wanted to be known as an actor and a model, not just Lionel's son or Nicole and Sofia's brother. He wanted to develop his own public identity independent of his family.

Joel Madden and Nicole Richie at the Baby2Baby Gala on November 11, 2017, in Culver City, California. | Source: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images


In early 2019, he found himself in the spotlight for the wrong thing when authorities allegedly detained him at London's Heathrow Airport. TMZ reported that Miles was found with an explosive device and punched a security guard.

The youngest Richie child was welcomed on August 24, 1998. Sofia also got into modeling and has been in the industry since teenagehood, featuring in various campaigns for major fashion brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Adidas.