Amiir Gregory Nelson was the son of Prince and Mayte Garcia. The baby boy tragically died of a rare genetic disorder when he was only one week old. At the time, Prince covered up the death of his son, who was known to the world only as “Boy Gregory.”
Strange circumstances surrounded the death of the infant. Prince did an interview with Oprah shortly after Amiir’s birth and death, giving a tour of the playroom and answering questions cryptically about whether the child had been born. Records were falsified so Prince would not be linked to the baby’s death.
The tragic death of Prince’s only child was covered up, and neither the mother nor father publicly acknowledged the infant’s death for years. It was eight months before a medical examiner ruled on Amiir Nelson’s cause of death. At that time, the Minneapolis medical examiner revealed the baby, known as “Boy Gregory,” died from natural causes due to Type 2 Pfeiffer syndrome, according to E News.
Let’s Go Crazy: The Grammy Salute to Prince, a tribute concert to honor Prince, airs Tuesday, April 21, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS in conjunction with the 2020 Grammy Awards.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Amiir Gregory Nelson Died Within One Week of His Birth From Pfeiffer Syndrome, a Rare Skull Defect
Prince’s only child, Amiir Gregory Nelson, died within one week of his birth. The baby had Pfeiffer syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that causes a skull defect. Amiir Nelson had Pfeiffer syndrome type 2, according to Newsday, which often results in a short life expectancy.
Pfeiffer syndrome causes the bones in the skull to fuse prematurely, called craniosynostosis. This results in many problems, including facial deformities, hearing and dental problems. Pfeiffer syndrome often causes bulging and wide-set eyes, an underdeveloped upper jaw, a high forehead and a beaked nose. The genetic disorder can also caused webbed or fused fingers and toes and unusually short fingers and toes. More than half of children born with Pfeiffer syndrome have hearing loss, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
There are three subtypes of Pfeiffer syndrome. People born with type 1, or “classic Pfeiffer syndrome,” often have normal intelligence and a normal lifespan. Pfeiffer syndrome type 2 and type 3 often affect the nervous system, with the premature skull fusion limiting brain growth. Elbows and other joints are also often fused in types 2 and 3, including joints in the face and airways which can cause life-threatening breathing problems. Babies born with Pfeiffer syndrome type 2 often have a cloverleaf skull because of the fused bones, according to National Human Genome Research Institute.
2. Amiir’s Name Was Not Revealed for Years & His Death Certificate Called Him ‘Boy Gregory’ as Part of an Elaborate Coverup
The death of Amiir Gregory Nelson was covered up by Prince, and he and his wife refused to publicly acknowledge their baby’s death, according to a 1997 article from E News. At that time, eight months after the boy died, a Minneapolis medical examiner ruled the baby died from natural causes.
Minneapolis officials only learned of the death and coverup because of two of Prince’s former employees, twin sisters Arlene and Erlene “Nanny” Mojica, who worked at Prince’s Paisley Park. The women cared for the baby and even held him when he died. They had the boy cremated and helped to hide the death by falsifying names and records, as they were ordered to do by Prince himself, they told officials. Prince later sued them for violating a confidentiality agreement, according to E News. The three-month investigation into the Amiir Nelson’s death involved homicide detectives. His death certificate listed his name as “Boy Gregory,” his mother as “Mia Gregory” and his race as “white.” No father was named on the death certificate.
It would be years before the name of Prince’s only child was revealed. Prince’s ex-wife, Mayte Garcia, revealed the details about the death of their son and his name in a memoir published in 2017. “The Most Beautiful: My Life with Prince,” was published at the one-year anniversary of Prince’s death.
3. Amiir’s Name Means ‘Prince’ in Arabic & the Baby Was Cremated
Prince passed along his name to his son. Amiir is an Arabic word and name meaning “prince.” Prince’s full name was Prince Rogers Nelson.
Baby Nelson was only one week old when he died. Amiir Nelson was born October 16, 1996 and died within one week on October 23, 1996. The baby was cremated in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he died, according to Find a Grave.
“Only child of Prince with his now ex-wife Mayte Jannell García,” his memorial on Find a Grave said. “Born prematurely and died at a week old due to Pfeiffer syndrome. Mayte then miscarried another baby and according to various articles believes the grief of losing two children at least partially if not completely caused she and Prince’s divorce.”
It took eight months for the Minneapolis medical examiner to rule on the infant’s cause of death. After a three-month investigation involving homicide detectives, officials determined the boy, then known as “Boy Gregory” died of natural causes from Type 2 Pfeiffer syndrome, according to a 2007 article from E News.
4. The Death of Amiir Nelson & Subsequent Miscarriage Led to the Divorce Between Prince & His Wife, Mayte Garcia
Prince and Mayte Garcia had plans to build a happy and healthy family when they were married in 1996. Mayte became pregnant shortly after their wedding day on Valentines Day, 1996, according to the Mirror. But the happy couple did not know that their baby had a rare genetic disorder that would take his life within one week of his birth.
Prince and his ex-wife, Mayte Garcia, were married from 1996 to 1999. Prince and his wife did not have any other children. Shortly after the birth and death of Amiir Gregory Nelson, Garcia became pregnant again and had a miscarriage. She said in an interview with the Mirror in 2016 that the death of their child and subsequent miscarriage tore their marriage apart. She said even then, she was still grieving.
“To lose two babies is really scary… it really caught on me emotionally, physically, everything. It took me at least 15 years to get over it and still, to this day, I miss my son,” she said.
She said in the interview that a couple losing a child can either make a relationship stronger or tear them apart. For Prince and Mayte, it was the latter.
“I believe a child dying between a couple either makes you stronger or it doesn’t,” she said. “For me, it was very, very hard to move forward and for us as a couple I think it probably broke us.”
5. Prince & Mayte Gave Oprah a Tour of Amiir’s Playroom After He Died Without Revealing the Boy’s Death
Nearly one month after the death of Amiir Nelson, Prince and Mayte went on the Oprah Winfrey Show and gave a tour of their son’s playroom. They did not say the boy had died, and offered only a cryptic explanation about Mayte’s pregnancy, according to the show’s transcript. The show aired November 21, 1996.
“What is the status of your — your — your baby, your pregnancy, your…” Oprah asked.
Prince responded, “Well, our family exists,” he said. “We’re just beginning it.” He added, “And we’ve got many kids to have, a long way to go.”
Mayte said in a 2016 interview with the Mirror that she and her husband had not processed their baby’s death at the time.
Prince never spoke publicly about his son. He told the St. Paul Pioneer Press in November, 1996, shortly after the boy’s death, that he would never reveal anything publicly about his children.
“Whenever we give birth to our children, the world won’t know their names, their sex, anything,” he said. “Our child has to make those decisions,” he said.
READ NEXT: Brock Turner Now: Where Is Turner in 2020?