Though Bobby Brown will forever be linked to Whitney Houston, thanks to their turbulent love affair, the “Every Little Step” has been married to Alicia Etheredge since 2012. The couple has started a family and carved out a happy life for themselves. Still, the stories of Bobby and Whitney continue to capture the public’s imagination, resulting in Alicia reaching a point of peace with that never-ending connotation.
“Bobby and Whitney were their time,” she told PEOPLE in May 2022. “I also came from a place. So knowing that he loved hard and came out the other end and somehow we were meant to be and found each other again, that’s what I focus on.” So, who is this woman who has been Mrs. Bobby Brown for a decade? And what of Bobby’s marriage to Whitney Houston?
Alicia Etheredge is a former video model, a current producer, and an entertainment manager (per Distractify). Alicia dated singer Teddy Riley, and met Bobby through her then-boyfriend in the 1980s. Bobby and Alicia two formed a platonic friendship, one that would come in handy ahead of his wedding to Whitney in 1992.
During a March 2022 appearance on The Kelly Clarkson Show, Alicia confirmed that she was the one who talked Bobby out of his pre-wedding jitters. “It’s amazing. It’s the timing of everything and why things are meant to be,” said Alicia, per Billboard. “I was there, I was a friend, and by then, all of his groomsmen and his brother could not get him out of the bathroom. So I was like, ‘Listen, we’re getting this show on the road. We’re here. This is happening.’”
“For some reason, I came to the door. I knocked on it,” she continued. “I was talking to him through the door, and finally, he peeked through it a little bit, and I got in. It was like, ‘Let me in. Let me in. Everything is going to be OK.’ … It was ironic that it was us again meeting in life, and he would be my husband.”
Bobby and Whitney separated in 2007 after 15 years of marriage. The split was hard on Brown, as he was living out of his car. “He was in a pretty sad place. I saw him dealing with heartbreak,” Alicia told PEOPLE in May 2022. “I saw him fighting to get back to his music and to what he loves.” Alicia and Bobby began working together, and from there, the friendship turned into something more.
“I am the yin to his yang,” Alicia told PEOPLE. She and Bobby married in 2012. The two also welcomed three children together: son Cassius Brown (b. 2009), and daughters Bodhi (b. 2015) and Hendrix (b. 2016).
However, Alicia hasn’t gelled with all of Bobby’s family. In 2022, A&E ran a two-part documentary, Biography: Bobby Brown, and announced a new family-centered reality series, Bobby Brown: Every Little Step. The show will also deal with conversations about Bobbi Kristina and Bobby Brown Jr., both of who died tragically too soon. Bobby’s sister, Leolah Brown Muhammad, posted a scathing rant against Alicia, accusing her of being the reason why Bobby Jr “was not even allowed in his own father’s home.” (per Hot New HipHop).
Whitney met Bobby Brown in 1989. “He was hot, he was on fire,” Whitney told Rolling Stone in an interview that ran after her death in 2012. She said she first crossed paths with Bobby at the 1989 Soul Train Awards. “He was hot, he was on fire. I and some friends of mine were sitting behind him. I was hugging them, we were laughing, and I kept hitting Bobby in the back of the head . . . I leaned over and said, ‘Bobby, I’m so sorry.’ And he turned around and looked at me like, “Yeah, well, just don’t let it happen again.’ And I was like, ‘Oooooh, this guy doesn’t like me.’ Well, I always get curious when somebody doesn’t like me.”
Whitney invited Bobby to a party as a way to smooth things between them, and he called her back, saying he’d love to come. “He was the first male I met in the business that I could talk to and be real with. He was so down and so cool, I was like, ‘I like him,’” Whitney said. The two met again months after the party, and Bobby asked her out for a date. A romance developed, resulting in their July 1992 marriage.
During their time together, the couple welcomed a daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown. Over the next 14 years, Bobby and Whitney’s marriage experienced multiple highs and lows. There were various allegations of drug abuse, and in 2003, Bobby was busted for allegedly roughing up Whitney during a domestic dispute, per E! News. Whitney later defended her then-husband, saying it was a misunderstanding.
Whitney filed for divorce in October 2006. Six months later, the split is finalized, with Whitney winning full legal and physical custody of her daughter. She finally got rid of him,” Whitney’s mother, Cissy Houston, told PEOPLE in 2013, “but it was too late. I blame him for the way he treated her. And he didn’t help [with her drug issues]. Damn sure he didn’t do that. He was no help to her at all.”
Whitney passed away on Feb. 11, 2012. She died in a bathtub at a Beverly Hills show, and the cause of death was listed as an accidental drowning, with heart disease and cocaine use listed as contributing factors, per Britannica.
“The violence that we incurred was using, and that is violence in itself. We abused drugs and alcohol. We fought hard verbally. And we loved even harder,” Bobby shared during an April 2021 episode of Red Table Talk, per Entertainment Tonight. “Our love was strong for each other. We showed it to each other time and time again, over and over. We just got caught up, and that had nothing to do with how we felt about each other. The love was always there.”
When asked what he would tell Whitney if he could, he would say that she’s “definitely missed” in his heart. “She was my friend,” said Bobby. “She was the mother of my child. One of the greatest entertainers that I’ve ever met. One of the greatest voices the world has ever witnessed. I know for what it all meant, God has a plan that I can’t question. It was already written in the books.”