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Source: Paras Griffin / Getty
Aaliyah’s uncle Barry Hankerson is breaking his silence regarding his late niece 20 years after her tragic death. Hankerson had been side-eyed by Aaliyah’s fans who felt he was keeping her music hostage. Since making it all available on streaming services, Hankerson has been less tight-lipped about all things Aaliyah.
During a call into The Ricky Smiley Show, Hankerson shared what his thoughts were when he found out R. Kelly, whom he had worked with early on in his career, had been accused of marrying his then 15-year-old niece. He didn’t say he went to the police. Instead, he prayed about it.
“To be very honest with you, of course, I was upset. I had to really, really consider what my actions would be,” he said. “And really I found out, I wasn’t a hardcore criminal. I couldn’t kill nobody. So, I took it, I’m a Muslim, and I went to Minster Farrakhan and we just prayed about it, resolved ourselves to let God handle him. I think that’s what’s going on. Ain’t no sense in two lives getting destroyed.”
R. Kelly is currently on trial for racketeering, sex crimes against underage girls and violating The Mann Act in Brooklyn, New York. During his trial, there were testimonies where Kelly was accused of marrying Aaliyah after he got her pregnant at 15 so she couldn’t testify against him if he got penalized for their illegal relationship. A former federal employee also testified that he took a bribe in order to provide Aaliyah with a fake ID stating she was 18 so she could marry a then 27-year-old Kelly. Hankerson said even though the news has been flooded with headlines about the trial, he hasn’t been paying attention to it.
“I just put a wall up to that,” he said. “It’s just too emotional for me. It just brings back too many bad thoughts for my whole family. He impacted my whole family, you know. It’s just a bad thing.”