Francine “Frankie” Lons, a reality TV personality and R&B singer Keyshia Cole’s biological mother, died Sunday on her 61st birthday.
Lons, who had been open about her struggles with substance abuse, passed away from a reported drug overdose.
Keyshia’s brother Sam told TMZ their mom overdosed at her home in Oakland as she celebrated turning 61. “She apparently took drugs while partying — relapsing on what we’re told was a long, hard-fought journey to sobriety,” the website reported.
Related Story: Clarence Williams III Dies – ‘The Mod Squad’ Actor Was 81
Frankie made several appearances on her daughter’s various reality series, including BET’s Keyshia Cole: All In. On Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is, the singer visited her estranged mother in jail. In later episodes, the two addressed their differences during family therapy.
Lons also landed a BET spinoff series with her daughter Neffeteria Pugh titled Frankie & Neffe. BET issued a statement on Monday paying tribute to Lons.
“We were saddened to hear the news of our BET family Frankie Lons’ passing. Our viewers first got to meet and know her in Keyshia Cole: All In as Keyshia Cole’s birth mother and in multiple other unscripted projects, including Keyshia Cole: My New Life and Frankie & Neffe,” a BET spokesperson said. “Viewers also got to see first-hand Frankie’s trials and tribulations as she battled addiction and as she tried to mend her relationship with her daughters. Frankie was a resilient woman, mom, and friend with so much to offer and will be missed by many. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Keyshia, Neffe, and the family during this difficult time.”
Keyshia was given up for adoption when she was just a toddler. Family friends Leon and Yvonne Cole adopted the then-two year old and her last name was changed to Cole.
The singer, 39, has yet to make a public statement about her mom’s death.