Frankie Lons, the mother of R&B singer Keyshia Cole who remained a fixture in her life and became a reality TV star in the process, died Sunday (July 18) on her birthday. She was 61.
Lons was celebrating at her Oakland home on Sunday when she suffered an overdose, according to TMZ and her nephew. Lons had a decades-long battle with addiction and relapsed while once more on the road to sobriety.
The Oakland native had given up Cole for adoption not long after she gave birth to her. Raised by family friends, Cole eventually reconnected with her mother and father, Virgil Hunter, as she rose to stardom beginning with her 2005 debut album, The Way It Is.
Through reality TV shows, social media and more, Cole and Frankie highlighted their turbulent history as well as Frankie’s constant battle with addiction. The two shared numerous heart-to-heart moments for shows such as Keyshia Cole: My New Life, Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is and more. BET ordered a spin-off of Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is in 2008 called Frankie & Neffie, focusing on Frankie and Neffeteria Pugh, Cole’s sister.
“You have to live for Keyshia,” Frankie told her daughter in a clip from Keyshia Cole: My New Life as the two discussed her sobriety and Cole’s fears about not finding her mother. “I don’t want to live forever. Even when God calls me, a mother’s love will always protect you. Even when I make you mad.”
In 2018, Cole shared an update about her mother’s fight with addiction on Instagram, highlighting how much she loved her despite their issues.
“Every time my mom relapse, it breaks my heart more than it’s already been broken,” she captioned. “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 #FrankTheBank.”
Cole has yet to speak about her mother’s passing publicly. We send thoughts and prayers to her family and friends during this difficult time.