Gordon’s death comes three years after he was found liable in the death of Brown — the daughter of the late Whitney Houston and singer Bobby Brown — and was ordered to pay millions of dollars to her estate. Brown died in July 2015, six months after she was found facedown in a bathtub at her Georgia home. Brown spent months in a coma and never regained consciousness. On what would have been her 23rd birthday, a Georgia medical examiner’s office released a statement saying she had died of lobar pneumonia, resulting from “drug intoxication” and water immersion.
Her death was yet another tragedy for the Houston and Brown families. Houston was found dead in a hotel bathtub in 2012 at age 48. The Los Angeles County Coroner’s office cited “drowning and effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use” as the official cause of the singer’s death. Brown was the sole beneficiary of her mother’s multimillion-dollar estate at the time of her death.
Brown and Gordon’s relationship fueled gossip headlines for years before Brown’s death. The pair was first linked in the weeks after Houston’s death. People magazine noted that the relationship was controversial because Gordon, then 22, had been raised, though not formally adopted, by the singer. In January 2014, the couple announced they had married, but amid Brown’s hospitalization in early 2015, a lawyer for her father said the pair had never been legally married.
In June 2015, Brown’s court-appointed conservator filed a civil lawsuit against Gordon, alleging that he had physically abused Brown and stolen thousands of dollars from her. After Brown’s death, the suit was amended to include a wrongful-death complaint that laid out a series of disturbing allegations including a violent attack in the days leading up to Jan. 31, the day Brown was found unresponsive.
As reported by The Washington Post, the suit alleged that after a night of cocaine and alcohol use, Gordon showed up to the Fulton County townhouse they shared and accused her of cheating. After the pair argued, the lawsuit stated, Gordon “gave Bobbi Kristina a toxic cocktail rendering her unconscious and then put her facedown in a tub of cold water, causing her to suffer brain damage.” A spokeswoman for Jose Baez, the defense lawyer representing Gordon at the time, called the lawsuit “slanderous and meritless.”
Brown’s father later told a Fulton County court that he believed Gordon was responsible for his daughter’s death. On the stand, the former New Edition singer said his daughter planned to follow in her parents’ footsteps. “She was an entertainer. If you were around her, all you would do is laugh,” he said. “She was always the life of the party.” In November 2016, Gordon was ordered to pay $36 million to her estate. As noted by the Hollywood Reporter, the ruling was influenced by Gordon’s repeated failure to meet court deadlines.
Gordon was never criminally charged in connection with Brown’s death, despite public pleas from Bobby Brown.
People reported Wednesday that Gordon’s brother, Jack Walker Jr., told the magazine that Gordon died of a drug overdose. Gordon’s lawyer, meanwhile, noted in his statement that Gordon had “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."
“My heart goes out to the family and friends Nick leaves behind and to any other families dealing with the losses and heartache caused by drugs,” the statement concluded.