Lionel Richie: The 'All Night Long' Hitmaker Opens Up About Adoption, Wanting To Be A Tennis Star

Lionel Richie: The 'All Night Long' Hitmaker Opens Up About Adoption, Wanting To Be A Tennis Star

Pop icon, Lionel Richie snuck his way into our parent's hearts with the release of his hit song Truly. Way back when in 1982, the R&B singer was just beginning to make a name for himself as a solo performer. The boy with the golden voice also had a golden heart that would see him extend his family and welcome a daughter, Nicole through adoption.

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Lionel Richie, birthday, celebration, All Night Long
Lionel Richie celebrates his 73rd birthday on 20 June. Images: Getty
Source: Getty Images

Lionel Richie's early upbringing

Lionel Brockman Richie, Jr. (born 20 June , 1949) was the gifted child of a US Army soldier and a school teacher. His relatively middle-class upbringing in the small town of Tuskegee, Alabama meant that young Lionel was given many opportunities to thrive. However, the injustices of a segregated American South were a harsh reality for the growing man.

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In spite of this, Lionel managed to get himself an education at the historically black university, Tuskegee Institute. The family already stayed on campus which made attendance easy but school fees were tough to come by. So from an early age, the Hello hitmaker dedicated himself to earning his ticket into university- through a sports scholarship!

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He wanted to be a tennis star

If it weren't for a group of like-minded music enthusiasts back in university, Lionel Richie might have turned out to be one of America's greatest tennis stars. The dexterous teenager had a real knack for the game, securing a full ride to college on his tennis skills alone.

With this scholarship, Lionel completed a degree in economics all while pursuing his music on the side. In fact, in the mid-60s Lionel formed a string of misfit and unsuccessful bands before finally hitting the jackpot with The Commodores in 1968.

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Did we say tennis star? We meant preacher

This legendary recording artist, like many of us, went through a major existential crisis before actually deciding what he wanted to do with life. Having given up tennis, the future star considered joining the priesthood in an effort to make his modest family proud, News24 reports.

But after a few pretty deep chats with the man upstairs, Lionel finally decided he was not "priest material" and continued to push forward with his music career.

Rise to fame

The Commodores signed with Motown records when Lionel was just 19. Initially, the group was just supposed to be an opening act for The Jackson 5 but fans started demanding to see more. As the group's frontman, Lionel wrote funky songs like Machine Gun and Brick House that were immediately certifiable classics, Smooth Radio reports.

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After nearly 15 years with the group, the talented songwriter launched his solo career with the release of his self-titled debut album in 1984. Three number-one singles would come from the body of work including the hit song, Truly.

Lionel adopts 9-year-old Nicole Richie

While Lionel's first marriage to ex-wife Brenda Harvey ended in absolute flames, one thing they could always agree on was their shared love for little Nicole.

The musician met his future adoptive daughter at a concert when Nicole Richie was just 2-years-old. In a touching interview with Today, Lionel shared that the toddler caught his eye when she began playing the tambourine on stage while the legendary Prince performed.

"Nicole was actually a godsend. She was a little girl who needed a shot. She was used to people coming and going. She looked at me and I’d say, ‘I’m not going anywhere," he told the publication.

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Little Nicole was the biological daughter of musician Peter Escovedo and his assistant Karen Moss — friends of Richie's. The family were going through some major financial hardships when Lionel decided to take her in.

“The family situation was falling apart," Lionel said at the time.

Wanting to help, the All Night Long hitmaker and his wife decided to take baby Nicole in. For some time, the little girl spent her time with the family as a foster child but when Niki was 9 years old Lionel officially became her father.

“My parents were friends with Lionel. They trusted that they would be better able to provide for me," The Simple Life star said during an interview.

And after a messy divorce from Brenda in 1993, The singer says his love for Nicole is definitely what held him together through the challenging moments. And while Lionel's life has definitely had some uphill moments, interesting life is naturally one that's worth living.

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Source: Briefly News

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