Singer and reality TV star Keyshia Cole and her family are in mourning, as her mother, Francine “Frankie” Lons, tragically died on July 18, 2021, which was her 61st birthday.
Fans came to know Frankie from Keyshia’s 2006-2008 BET reality show, Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is. She even got her own spinoff in 2009 called Frankie and Neffe, which chronicled the lives of Frankie and her daughter Neffeteria Pugh. She also appeared in cameos in Keyshia’s 2019 BET docuseries, Keyshia Cole: My New Life.
Frankie gave Keyshia up at the age of 2, when she was then adopted by family friends Leon and Yvonne Cole. At the age of 12, Keyshia began her career in the music industry, after meeting and recording with fellow Oakland, Calif., singer M.C. Hammer. At 15, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue singing full time. Keyshia released her first album The Way It Is in 2005, and it went platinum. She was eventually reunited with her mom and met her biological father, Virgil Hunter, for the first time in 2016, after a paternity test confirmed that he was was her dad.
Keyshia’s younger sister, Elite Noel, broke the news of their mother’s passing on the morning of July 19. She wrote on her Instagram Stories, “Worse [sic] pain ever .. to see my mama in a body bag on her birthday. My heart is so f—kin broke.” Keyshia’s brother Sam told TMZ that Frankie had died at her Oakland home from an overdose while partying, despite a hard fought struggle to stay sober.
Frankie had a long battle with addiction, which the “I Remember” singer and her mother had been open about. Keyshia shared a video in 2018 of her mom in 2015, surrounded by the singer and other family members.
“I need everyone to keep me in their prayers. I’m taking this a day at a time,” Frankie said of her sobriety. Keyshia and her sisters told their mom how much they loved and supported her.
“This was 2 1/2 years ago. Every time my mom relapse [sic], it breaks my heart more than it’s already been broken,” Keyshia wrote in the sad caption. “I’m hoping, if any of u are dealing with a family member who’s battling with drug addiction, that you, yourself are learning how to cope with the struggle of it all. And all the pain it brings to see a loved one constantly relapsing. See them go back to the streets because that’s what they’re used to or would rather be. I really miss you! And will always love u.”
Keyshia has not yet commented on her mother’s death. One fan tweeted, “I know Keyshia Cole is hurtin’ real bad. Like they were just on the mend. Prayers up for Keyshia, Neffie, Elite and the whole fam.”
The “Heaven Sent” singer has been married once, to former NBA player Daniel Gibson. Their union lasted from 2011 through 2017, and their wedding was featured in the 2012 BET docuseries Keyshia and Daniel: Family First. The former couple share one child Daniel Gibson Jr., born in March 2010. She later welcomed another son Tobias with then-boyfriend Niko Khale in August 2019. Keyshia and Niko split up just over a year later in October 2020.
A rep for Keyshia did not immediately respond to In Touch‘s request for comment regarding Frankie’s death.
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