Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Rihanna's Dad Ronald


Superstar Rihanna's dad told last night of his shame after she caught him smoking crack cocaine when she was just nine years old.

Ronald Fenty revealed how the singer - who hopes to win best international female artist at Wednesday's glitzy Brits awards do in London - watched him indulge his lethal habit as she peered through a gap in the kitchen door.

Ronald revealed: "I turned and looked Rihanna in the eye and instantly came back down from the high I was on. I saw her run for her mother, ask her something and then they both started to cry. I had no idea she had been watching.

"It was the lowest point - life just stopped and I realised what a fool I had been."

The moment tore apart Ronald and Rihanna's lives. He was thrown out of the family home in Barbados and stopped from seeing his daughter. But Ronald, 54, managed to kick the drugs and now plays a full part in her life - even joining the 19-year-old sensation on tour. He has also done his best to warn her off drugs - though he's sure she wouldn't touch them anyway.

"I spent 25 years doing drugs so I know the devastation they cause," he said. "Last year I sat her down and said, 'Rihanna don't make the mistakes I did. Don't do drugs'.

"You see so many young people find fame then lose their heads. I begged her not to do a Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan. She looked me in the eyes and said, 'Dad don't be stupid'. She won't go down the path I went down. She's too smart."

The worlds of Rihanna, who has a million-pound pad in Los Angeles, and Ronald, who lives in his aunt's modest home, could hardly be more different.

When the Sunday Mirror tracked down the father-of-five in Bridgetown, Barbados, he was hawking tacky toys, perfume and household items from the boot of a battered Nissan car.

But he's used to a life on the streets. Growing up, Ronald was scoring crack cocaine and cannabis at only 14. He took drugs through high school, where he met Rihanna's mother Monica.

Despite a relationship littered with rows - mainly over his drug-taking - the pair married in 1985. But after Rihanna, their first child, was born in 1988 Ronald would disappear on cocaine binges for days on end. Monica was often left alone to cope with Rihanna and younger brothers Rorrey and Rajad.

Ronald said: "I was out of control. I would let my wife and my children down time and time again. I was not a good dad or husband."

Yet amid the chaos Rihanna, nicknamed Pinky because she loved pink clothes, was blossoming into a singer. Aged three she would stand in front of the mirror, hairbrush in hand, singing along to Whitney Houston's Saving All My Love For You.

At seven she was displaying the incredible voice which today sells millions of records and could earn her the best female artist award at the Brits. Ronald remembers her singing A Whole New World from Disney's Aladdin. "I was in the lounge and heard this angelic singing from the balcony," he said. "I looked out and it was Rihanna. My heart jumped. I knew then she was special."

But two years on Rihanna saw her father smoking crack. Ronald said: "It was the turning point. Monica chucked me out and we never patched things up. I knew I could carrying on taking drugs and die or stop and see my children grow up. I still thank God every day I chose to stop - I live for my children now."

And, despite his daughter's millions, he never asks for a penny and insists he's happy in his work, which earns him around £250 for a seven-day week. He said: "The only thing I want is to be a part of her life. I have had her forgiveness, which you can't put a price on, and I would never dream of asking her for a dollar."

Rihanna, who won a Grammy in Los Angeles last week for Umbrella, will be hoping for more of the same at the Brits, where she will perform the smash hit with The Klaxons.

And Ronald will be watching with pride on satellite TV. "I would have loved to have gone to London but, unless Rihanna calls and says, 'Hey dad, jump on a plane', then I will be watching on TV with a bottle of beer," he said.


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