Rapper T.I. (real name Clifford Joseph Harris Jr.) and his wife, Tameka “Tiny” Cottle, have a gaggle of rambunctious, lively children — Zonnique, Messiah, Domani, Deyjah, King, Major, and Heiress — in their blended family, all of whom star alongside their parents on VH1 reality show T.I. & Tiny: Friends & Family Hustle. But many fans may not know that the couple lost a child many years ago.
Tiny and T.I. Lost Baby Daughter Lelah in 2007
Harris and Cottle got together in 2001 and welcomed son Clifford “King” Harris III in August 2004. Three years later they were expecting a baby girl but the pregnancy ended in tragedy when Tiny gave birth to their stillborn daughter six months into the pregnancy.
In a 2009 interview with Essence magazine, Cottle said that she knew the sac that holds the baby was split in two and had not combined. But she said the only thing she was prepared for was that the baby could get tied up in her umbilical cord. She said she “never thought” she would lose the baby. But six months into the pregnancy, Cottle went to see a specialist and received devastating news.
“When I went to see the specialist, that’s when they determined there was no heartbeat,” said Cottle, adding that they spent the whole day with little Lelah.
“She was 6 months old and I named her Lelah Amore. I keep her belongings near me — pictures and roses [from the burial]. It was very deep. Here I am, in the hospital to have a baby, deliver it, but I’m going to go home with no baby. After Lelah was born, I kept her in the room with me the whole day. They placed her in the little basket and we dressed her in an outfit and had a blanket wrapped around her. They came and got her because her body went cold and I wanted her back so they warmed her body again and I kept her. People might think that’s crazy, but I just needed to be with her.”
Cottle added that she doesn’t go to Lelah’s grave very often because it’s “too sad,” but she does go on holidays and special days. She also said it took her a long time to grieve.
“I was very upset and depressed for a while. It definitely brought us closer in our relationship. I kept a lot of company around me to help me keep my mind off of it, so I wouldn’t be so sad,” said Cottle, adding, “Reverend Run’s wife, Justine, reached out to me and shared some very powerful and encouraging words with me during that time and I so appreciated it.”
The Harris Family Has Seven Other Children
Cottle and Harris began dating, they each brought children into the picture. Cottle has daughter Zonnique, 24, from her previous relationship with Zonnie “Zeboe” Pullins, while T.I. has sons Messiah, 20, and Domani, 19, from a previous relationship with Lashon Thompson, and daughter Deyjah, 19, from a previous relationship with Ranniqua, aka rapper Ms. Niko.
Once Harris and Cottle began dating, they welcomed son King in 2004, then lost daughter Lelah in 2007. Then in May 2008, they welcomed son Major, and in March 2016, they had daughter Heiress.
The family suffered another terrible loss in 2019 when T.I.’s older sister, Precious Harris, was killed in a car accident at the age of 66. She left behind three children: Kayama Chapman, Avis Chapman-Reese, and Kareem “Plug” Chapman.
T.I. & Tiny: Friends & Family Hustle airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on VH1.