Russell Simmons speaks out after he's ripped by daughters, ex Kimora Lee Simmons: Inside the family drama

Kimora Lee Simmons and daughters Aoki Simmons and Ming Simmons speak out against patriarch Russell Simmons. (Photos: Getty Images)
Kimora Lee Simmons and daughters Aoki Simmons and Ming Simmons speak out against patriarch Russell Simmons. (Photos: Getty Images)

Russell Simmons has apologized to his daughters "for being frustrated and yelling," but did not directly address allegations of emotional abuse. In a post, he told his girls "i love you guys more than i love myself" — but they have yet to respond.

Drama erupted after Father's Day when his ex-wife, Kimora Lee Simmons, and their two children, Aoki Simmons and Ming Simmons, went public with their grievances. Aoki shared upsetting text messages allegedly sent from the Def Jam co-founder along with a muted video that appeared to show him berating her on FaceTime.

Here's what's going on.

A not-so-happy Father's Day

On Sunday, Ming, 23, publicly recognized her mother on Sunday instead of her dad. That apparently set Russell off as he shared some shady posts on his Instagram story. One was of a sign that read, "Stop telling fathers they should have fought harder to see their children & start asking mothers why he had to fight at all."

He shared another image that read, "The father you have is the perfect father for the evolution of your soul and the lessons that you needed to learn in this lifetime."

Aoki fires back — with the support of Kimora

The 20-year-old model, who graduated from Harvard this year, claimed on Instagram that her father has "been awful to me for years."

Aoki shared a screenshot of text messages in which she told her dad that talking to him has given her "panic attacks to the point I was placed on emergency medication every time we spoke. I cannot have a relationship with you until that stops. No one stops me from talking to you, my health does. I have to put that first."

She claimed Russell cursed at her with "anger and rage" over a legal dispute he has with Kimora. (More on that below.) "I am your child, not your lawyer your ex wife any of it. I can do nothing. Yet you yell at me like it's my fault," she wrote, explaining that she could not hear his voice "without having an anxiety attack."

Aoki shared a FaceTime call in which her father looked irate. "This is just one screen recording sorry I don't always remember to press 'record' when he calls my friends, my boyfriend, anyone, to get a chance to threaten and curse and go crazy," she said.

The model also posted text exchanges in which he claims that Kimora "stole his money" and the "love of his kids" and calls Kimora a "piece of s***."

"My father is not well, for years" Aoki added on social media. "He needs help and won't accept that. He refuses to acknowledge he is not himself. He has threatened and bullied my sister, my grandma, he has harassed my grandma in the middle of the night in poor health, sen[t] a man to my sister's apartment at 2am to scare her. He lashes out at ANYONE who does not say 'oh Russell everything is fine.' Well it's not fine."

Aoki said she believes her father could be "mentally ill" or possibly have "dementia" as she said he used to be a great dad before his behavior changed.

Kimora, who was married to Russell from 1998 to 2009, shared Aoki's posts to her Instagram story. She added, "I'm so sorry to have to do this. But this man has been threatening my kids' lives. I'm hearing so much more now. We won't be bullied or threatened or afraid."

In a follow up message, Kimora added: "No one should live like this. No one's child. This is abuse. Not ok. The threats. Not ok. The fear mongering. Not ok."

Russell publicly responds

The entrepreneur apologized on Instagram, writing, "God is testing you a little bit, it's ok, be strong... they are called growing pains... as you know, we grow through adversity and struggle," he shared, adding "remember 'smile and breathe'..."

Russell added he's he's "deeply" sorry for yelling.

As of now, it does not appear that Aoki, Ming or Kimora have responded.

Russell was upset after a bitter year-long court battle with Kimora

In 2021, Russell sued Kimora and her former husband, investment banker Timothy Leissner, for fraud and alleged they stole millions worth of stock without permission. Kimora then publicly accused Russell of "extortive harassment" and "serial abuse" due to the lawsuit. His claim was ultimately dismissed, and after a year of a contention, a judge ruled Russell had to pay over $100,000 to cover her legal fees.

This isn't the first time Russell has been accused of abuse

The Phat Farm founder was accused of rape and sexual assault by multiple women in 2017 amid the #MeToo movement. He denied all allegations.

"These new stories range from the patently untrue to frivolous and hurtful claims," he told the Los Angeles Times. "I want to restate categorically what I have said previously: I have never been violent or abusive to any women in any way at any time in my entire life."

Russell was the subject of the HBO documentary On The Record, which chronicled the decision of some of his accusers, including former Def Jam executive Drew Dixon, to come forward.