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The Tragic Real-Life Story of Fantasia Barrino: From Teen Mother To Losing her Fortune

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Fantasia Barrino struggled through lots of difficulties in her journey to success. However, the “American Idol” alum defied all the odds thrown her way and became a woman she was proud of.

Life hasn’t exactly been a fairy tale for singer and actress Fantasia Barrino. At fourteen, her world turned upside down following a devastating incident that defined the rest of her life’s journey.

From dropping out of school even before she could read right to the numerous relationships and heartbreaks she encountered. Even after attaining success on “American Idol,” and skyrocketing to stardom, those tragedies did not stop on their tracks.

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Rather, they took other forms like lawsuits, public scandals, and bankruptcy. One wouldn’t tell at a glance given the air of happiness around her these days coupled with the glitz and glam of Hollywood, but this talented singer and mother of three has lived through it all.

Here, we take a look back at some of the most tragic points in Fantasia Barrino’s life before and after she became famous.

Fantasia Barrino’s Tragic Teenage Years

Barrino’s first brush with tragedy came in her teens when she got raped by a popular boy in her school auditorium. Then a fourteen-year-old, attending Andrews High School in North Carolina, the icon admits the incident changed her in a way she “didn’t need to be changed.”

Unable to deal with the trauma, she confided in her mom who in turn took up the matter with school authorities. The offender ended up paying for his deed, but the punishment was less than what he deserved for stripping the teenage girl of her innocence.

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In the end, reporting him only made things worse as word of his sexual assault traveled fast, making it hell for her to attend school. Barrino recalled being mocked by her rapist’s homeboys, who threatened at every turn to do exactly what he did.

Life As A Teenage Mom

Ultimately, she dropped out of school. With an educational level of ninth grade, her reading was not as good as it should have been, nor was her math. That made things more difficult for the youngster who suddenly found herself in the workforce.

After a series of bad choices with men, she found herself pregnant at seventeen, forcing her to become independent. She left her parents’ home and moved in with her boyfriend who spent years physically and verbally abusing her, leaving her face disfigured and bruised.

Fantasia depended on government welfare and sometimes shoplifted to get by. Barely three years after welcoming her daughter Zion Quari, she auditioned for “American Idol” and ended up as the winner of the third season. Thus began her life of stardom.

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Struggling With Illiteracy

In her memoir, “Life Is Not A Fairytale,” launched in 2005, the author described herself as functionally illiterate. She admittedly struggles with reading, despite improving herself and building confidence in her ability through the years.

This open secret of hers has made the star work twice as hard to attain the success she boasts of. Memorizing song lyrics and scripts by listening to avoid blowing her secret while trying to read them are some of the things the star has done to work around her “functional illiteracy.”

She admittedly applied the method and faked her way through during her stint of the singing competition show. That way, she managed to keep the coaches from discovering her flaws. We all know it worked.

The star has since improved her reading skills and advocates for causes targeted at tackling illiteracy.

Butting Heads With Her Dad

Fantasia Barrino’s 2005 memoir included some disheartening claims about her dad. One such claim involved receiving a beating from him each time she appeared to sulk in front of other people.

She also accused her dad of asking her for money and valuing his kid’s musical career over their education.

Following the launch of the memoir, the actress’ dad Joseph Barrino filed a $10 million libel lawsuit against the book’s publishers. The suit alleged the book contained “malicious untruths” all of which he disputed.

He also claimed Barrino, then 22, did not write the memoir, which he believed was ghost-written by her grandmother Addie Collins. The legal feud created tension within the singer’s family, further fueling her grueling life struggles.

Wrong Financial Choices And losing Her Fortune

With several back-to-back hits, Fantasia Barrino’s music career made her millions in no time. However, it all came crumbling down when she trusted the wrong people and made several wrong financial choices that affected her empire.

First, the “When I See You” crooner, who has been open about losing everything twice, took on the reins as a breadwinner at the onset of her stardom.

It became increasingly difficult to juggle it all. Hence, she let someone else handle her monetary affairs. Barrino only realized she made a huge mistake when her bank card was declined one day while ordering pizza.

Having someone she trusted do away with her fortune sent her on a free fall, so much that she put her house up for auction. During that phase of her life, she missed several performances of “The Color Purple,” amounting to more than half a million dollars in refund.

In 2009, news outlets reported the icon defaulted on a $58,000 loan from Broward Energy Partners. She reportedly took the loan to secure money to pay back taxes on her  $1.1 million North Carolina mansion in 2006.

She nearly lost the house at the time but managed to strike a deal with the company to let her keep it. However, before she had a chance to celebrate the victory, the singer was forced to put up the home for auction in 2012.

Ultimately, she listed it at $500,000, which was about $800,000 less than its cost price. When the home failed to sell a year later, the star reportedly transferred the deed to Broward Energy Partners to avoid foreclosure.

Barrino listed another of her properties located in Charlotte for sale years later, also selling it at a loss.

An Attempt To End It All

In 2010, Fantasia Barrino, who earned two Grammy nods for her 2006 hit song “When I See You,” was in the headlines again for yet another scandal. This time, it involved an adultery lawsuit.

The wife of T-mobile employee, Antwan Cook, accused her of having an affair with her husband while they were still married. Ultimately, the woman, Paula Cook, filed a lawsuit against the actress accusing her of being a homewrecker.

Following a heated legal tussle, the court ruled in Barrino’s favor. They affirmed her affair with Cook kicked off only after he officially separated from Paula.

Things seemed to become unbearable for the star, who went on to have a son, Dallas Xavier, with Antwan Cook.

In August 2010, she overdosed on aspirin and sleeping aid and ended up unconscious in her North Carolina mansion. Luckily, her manager Brian Dickens found her on time and sought medical help.

Following her hospitalization, Dickens released a statement confirming the star sustained no life-threatening injuries. A year later, a fully recovered Barrino admitted in an interview that she took those pills because she “just wanted out.”

According to her, she became fed up with dealing with her father, men drama, people’s wrongdoings, and everything else bugging her. Hence, taking her life seemed like the only way to be at peace.

Custody Battle

In 2013, Barrino’s turmoil worsened when her ex-boyfriend Brandel Shouse filed for custody of their then thirteen-year-old daughter, Zion. He also requested visitation rights and child support from Barrino, despite never being a part of their daughter’s life in the last thirteen years.

The court adjourned the case until 2015, with Fantasia remaining confident the judge would make the decision that is best for their daughter. Sure enough, Barrino maintained custody of her daughter, until she attained adulthood.

Dealing With Family Tragedies

Her tragedies didn’t end there. Another tragedy struck the “Baby Mama” star in 2017 when her younger brother Xavier Barrino sustained injuries in a motorcycle accident.

Thankfully, he narrowly escaped death, but not without decapitating injuries. It took about two years for Xavier to walk again. The singer considered this incident a blessing in disguise, as it transformed her brother from a lost young man into a responsible one, ultimately saving his life.

Her family experienced another loss in 2018, this time, involving the murder of her 18-year-old nephew Tyquan Vonricco Washington. The teenager died in a North Carolina shooting, plunging his family into grief.

Like every other situation life threw at her, the icon handled the loss like a survivor, all the while serving as a pillar of strength to the rest of her clan. That’s who Fantasia Barrino is: a survivor who keeps pushing even when the odds are against her.

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