It was a photo that shocked the world – troubled pop star Michael Jackson dangling his baby son over a three-story balcony for the paparazzi to see. That was back in 2002, and sadly we all know what happened to Michael Jackson just seven years later. But what ever became of his son Blanket?
Prince Michael Jackson II was born in 2002. He was Jackson’s third child, but the pop star decided not to publicly disclose who his mother was. Jackson also gave his son the rather odd nickname of “Blanket.” And, perhaps unsurprisingly, the new addition to the unorthodox family ended up making headlines before he could even talk.
That same year, Jackson traveled to Berlin to collect an award for his children’s charity work and brought his young son with him. Paparazzi tracked down his hotel, eager to get a shot of the new father. And Jackson didn’t disappoint. But when he held nine-month-old Blanket precariously over the balcony of his suite, onlookers were terrified. Indeed, those down below feared that the infant was about to fall to his death.
Jackson, meanwhile, quickly apologized for the incident. In a statement, he explained, “I got caught up in the excitement of the moment. I would never intentionally endanger the lives of my children.” But it was only the start of the trouble and controversy the star would face towards the end of his life.
In November 2003, for example, Jackson was arrested and had seven charges of child molestation leveled against him. And while he was acquitted in 2005, the trial and the publicity surrounding it must have had a massive impact on young Blanket and his siblings, Paris and Prince.
Then, in 2009, the world was rocked by the news of Jackson’s sudden death. There was a vast outpouring of grief all over the globe – but people also had a lot of questions. What exactly had happened to him? And who would get custody of his kids?
The inquiries into Jackson’s death were long and painful, but in the end the official cause was recorded as “acute propofol and benzodiazepine intoxication.” Meanwhile, Jackson’s three children – who were being looked after by their grandmother – became the center of an unbelievable media circus.
Pictures of seven-year-old Blanket looking distraught at his father’s memorial service touched the world. For many, it was the first time they’d seen the child properly, as Jackson had gone to great lengths to keep his kids’ faces hidden away from the media.
And after the memorial service came the actual funeral. There, in a touching tribute to the King of Pop, Blanket joined his siblings in resting a crown on their dad’s golden coffin. The infant then departed the service looking exhausted and sad.
The following year, Blanket, Paris and Prince appeared on Oprah to discuss their late father’s work and legacy. And though eight-year-old Blanket didn’t talk much, his sister Paris told the famous TV host that she and her young brother had bonded in the wake of their father’s death.
Slowly but surely, then, the Jackson kids began to put the pieces of their lives back together. And they decided not to watch the trial of Conrad Murray, the doctor who was eventually convicted of the involuntary manslaughter of their father.
The world, however, still wasn’t quite ready to let go of the King of Pop. And so in 2011 the “Michael Forever” concert was held at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, with the Jackson children attending and Blanket moved, unsurprisingly, to tears.
Then, at the end of that year, Cirque du Soleil kicked off their fabulously theatrical “Michael Jackson: Immortal World Tour” in Las Vegas. Blanket and his siblings were spotted on the red carpet, too, and this time all of them were beaming with joy.
It was clear that the three kids were working hard to maintain their father’s legacy and honor everything that he had achieved. And so in 2012 they attended a hand and footprint ceremony in L.A. Here they pressed Jackson’s gloves and shoes, as well as their own tiny hands, into cement.
It was also clear that all three kids were growing older and dealing with their own issues – and there were issues aplenty. The wider Jackson family was allegedly falling apart and constantly arguing. Eventually, custody of the children was handed over to their cousin, T.J. Jackson. Blanket, meanwhile, had turned ten, although he was still the baby of the family.
Big sister Paris used her Twitter account to share her feelings with the world, but Blanket had no such outlet yet. However, in 2013 he appeared in a documentary where he finally seemed ready to find his voice and give the world a glimpse of the real him.
In Remembering Michael, 11-year-old Blanket talked about growing up at the famous Neverland Ranch. “We had kind of like a zoo, basically,” he revealed. And he also talked about growing up with a never-ending stream of press intrusion, commenting, “It’s not right to invade someone’s privacy like that.”
Furthermore, as time went on, Blanket began to assert his own identity more and more. He started taking karate lessons, practicing competitively and working out with a personal trainer. And like so many other young kids, he also joined Twitter.
Then in June 2015 the media discovered something that was interesting – but maybe not all that surprising: Blanket had changed his name. In his school yearbook, the seventh grader was listed as Bigi Jackson, with sources claiming that bullying was behind the decision.
Yet Bigi seems to have grown into a well-adjusted kid with a good balance between a celebrity life and a “real” one. “Michael would be proud of Blanket,” one anonymous family friend told Radar Online in 2015. “He is really sweet, funny and helpful.” And so after a childhood of tragedy, thankfully little Blanket’s future is looking bright.