Taraji P. Henson has earned a Critics’ Choice Award and Golden Globe Award for her portrayal of Cookie on the hit FOX series, Empire. The talented performer began acting at Howard University, and since then, she has appeared in a number of hit television series and films. What most people may not know is that Henson hides a dark past. She and her high-school sweetheart, William Lamar Johnson, became pregnant during Henson’s senior year of college, and gave birth to their son, Marcell, in 1994. Nine years later, William Lamar Johnson was murdered.
On January 25, 2003, Johnson approached husband and wife couple Russell and Charlotte Nickelson, and accused them of slashing a friend’s tires, writes Star Magazine. “A fight ensued, according to court documents, during which the Nickelsons beat William over the head with a lamp and kicked and punched him on the ground, before Charlotte stabbed him multiple times with a knife.” William reportedly died about an hour after the police arrived.
The following year, Charlotte and Russell Nickelson pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter. Charlotte was sentenced to 36 months in prison, and Russell was given 50 months, according to Star Magazine. Taraji’s son, Marcell, was 9 at the time his father was killed. Henson says:
He’s had to deal with life in a way that a lot of young kids haven’t yet… Do I mourn for him? Absolutely. I wish my son had his dad. But sometimes things line up and they have to happen and we don’t know why.
Henson has recently come out saying that her relationship with Johnson was abusive. In her new memoir, Around the Way Girl, Henson writes, “The next thing I knew, [Johnson’s] balled-up fist was coming straight for my face. I pulled my hand from my mouth and looked at the blood on my trembling finger. I said, ‘You know what? I don’t have to do this — and I don’t have to hate you for it.'” After the incident, Henson left Johnson– but she allowed her son to have a relationship with him up until his death.
Despite her past, Henson says she still hopes to find love one day. In a recent interview with the Daily Mail, Henson said, “If I was going to get married, it had to be for love. That real kind of love… the kind I yearn for.” Her most recent fling was with NFL star Kelvin Hayden. The couple was spotted strolling hand in hand on a Miami Beach last December, then in February, they were seen together at Super Bowl 50– Henson even appeared on the NFL red carpet with Hayden. Since then, there has been speculation that Hayden is cheating on Henson. He is said to have sent an inappropriate snapchat to a former girlfriend (while he and Henson were on vacation in Turks and Caicos) and was seen with the same ex while Henson was off filming a movie in Atlanta.