TLC member T-Boz holds nothing back in an intimate and detailed interview with Vogue.
T-Boz was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia as a kid, which often led to hospital visits and general concern among her family. It is a health complication that followed her into the ’90s and her burgeoning music career. The singer credits one person for pushing her through it.
“What kept me going was the greatest mom on the planet,” T-Boz — real name Tionne Watkins — said. “She was strong and never made me feel like a sickly child. She always told me I could do whatever I wanted as long as I kept my morals and integrity intact. She gave me so much support and so I never felt like a kid with sickle cell. I felt like everyone else.”
In fact, T-Boz had more than one powerful female influence in her life: “My grandmother was such a classy lady. When my mom came to Atlanta to find a place for us to live, I stayed with my grandmother for two months and we got so close. I learned so much from older people. They are so wise and now I know how important it is.”
Watkins described to “Good Morning America” what it was like living with a necrotic disease. “The easiest way to describe it is that oxygen isn’t getting to our vital organs, so if it’s your legs, you can’t walk and if it’s your arms, you can’t hold a pencil and write,” she explained. “I went through so much.”
2002 was a tough year for TLC following the death of member Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes. “That was one of the hardest times in my life,” Watkins confessed. “Lisa died three-four days after I got out of the hospital so I was 90 pounds, which made me sick again… as soon as something was good, it was bad.”
But in 2017, the “Waterfalls” singer has a lot to be thankful for. “I’ve got a laundry list of stuff: a private clothing label called BabyBouge, a TLC residency in Vegas, and I started writing film scripts,” she revealed. “I also want to produce movies and television shows.”
So what does T-Boz want her legacy to be? “I just want to be remembered for the things I really did, like making a difference and making people feel better.”
T-Boz details her health problems and road to stardom in her new memoir, A Sick Life: TLC ’n Me: Stories From On and Off the Stage.