- Russell Simmons is a pioneering record executive, known for co-founding the iconic label Def Jam.
- He was married to model Kimora Lee Perkins from 1998 to 2009.
- The former couple shares two adult daughters: Aoki and Ming.
Russell Simmons has been one of the biggest names in hip hop, without being a rapper himself. After beginning his career as a producer, he later teamed up with Rick Rubin to co-found the iconic label Def Jam Recordings, which has been the home to tons of major artists like Jay Z, the Beastie Boys, DMX, and many more. He’s also been a major figure in the fashion world. While he’s had an undeniable impact on the history of rap, Russell was accused of sexual assault and harassment by multiple women in 2017 and eventually stepped down from his position at Def Jam. Russell, 65, has denied the allegations.
Russell married model Kimora Lee, 48, in December 1998. The pair had two daughters Aoki, 20, and Ming, 23, but the pair split up in 2006, and their divorce was finalized a few years later. Since the split, Russell has had a strained relationship with both his ex-wife and his daughters. Kimora accused him of “threatening” her and the kids as well as being “abusive” in her Instagram Story on June 18, 2023, per People. “This man has been threatening my kids’ lives. I’m hearing so much more now. We won’t be bullied threatened or afraid,” she wrote. “This narrative of attacking the only caregiver, the only parent in the home with the kids, the mom, AND the kids for one’s own shortcomings and embarrassments is dead.”
Kimora hasn’t been the only one to accuse the former record executive of acting inappropriately. Aoki shared screenshots of text exchanges with her dad and said that if she doesn’t respond, he’ll “harass” her boyfriend or college friends. “I’ve had enough,” she wrote in an Instagram Story. “He’s been awful to me for years and that’s just the truth.”
Find out more about Russell’s daughter here.
Ming Lee Simmons
Russell and Kimora welcomed their elder daughter Ming in 2000. The older Simmons daughter was a student at New York University, graduating in 2023. She’s dabbled in modeling and being a social media personality, often sharing vlog-style videos on TikTok and posting gorgeous photos of herself on Instagram.
Ming has opened up about how her mom was a major influence in showing her how important hard work is in a 2023 interview with Hypebae. “It’s going to sound cliche, but my mom really does keep me grounded. She’s always hammered the value of a dollar into all of us and she’s done an amazing job of supporting us while also doing her best to make us aware of our privilege,” she said. “I know that I need to work hard and prove myself to be able to stand on my own.”
Amid the drama with her dad in 2023, Ming also dissed her dad with a Father’s Day Post, where she shared a photo of herself and her mom, essentially wishing Kimora a “Happy Father’s Day,” on her Instagram Story, per TMZ.
Aoki Lee Simmons
Kimora gave birth to her and Russell’s younger daughter Aoki in 2002. Like her mom, Aoki is also a model, but she’s also a graduate of Harvard University, having graduated as part of the Class of 2023. After graduating, Aoki also thanked her mom and sisters for supporting her in an interview with People. “I feel grateful, proud and relieved — in that order! It’s a surreal feeling to be done with something that was such a huge part of my life. Now, like every other graduate, I’m on to the next chapter,” she said. “My mom, my sister, my little brothers back at home. It took a whole tribe, trust me!”
While she’s clearly had some difficulties with her dad, as evidenced in the Father’s Day 2023 posts, she did have kind words to say about him in a 2023 HuffPost interview. “I live with my mom. My dad is like a fun uncle. My mom is my mom. That is my person. She’s not letting me fall, or mess up,” she said.
Weeks after that interview though was the fallout on her Instagram Stories, where she also shared a video of Russell seeming to yell at her on a FaceTime call. In another Story, she wrote that some people close to her dad thought that he was “mentally ill or experiencing something like dementia,” and she said that prior to the argument, she had a good relationship with him. “He was really the best dad ever and a great co parent. He and my mom were best friends. We all defended him against anything, and then he suddenly turned on ANYONE who will let him lash out,” she said.