In 2009 fans around the world were devastated to learn that Michael Jackson had died from a tragic drug overdose at the age of 50. And one of the most memorable moments from the King of Pop’s memorial was the appearance of his only daughter, Paris. A mere 11 years old at the time, she delivered a soft-spoken eulogy that broke hearts. “I just want to say, ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine. And I just want to say… I love him so much,” she told the assembled mourners.
That 11-year-old girl has now blossomed into an 18-year-old beauty. But for someone so young, she has already lived a truly extraordinary life. Paris-Michael Katherine Jackson came into the world in 1998, the daughter of Jackson and nurse Debbie Rowe. But when Jackson and Rowe divorced in 1999, it was agreed that the musician would have full custody of the infant.
Jackson spent her childhood at Neverland Ranch, the sprawling fantasyland residence her father had created for himself in Santa Barbara. Here, in this somewhat unconventional home, she was brought up alongside her older brother Michael Joseph and her younger half-brother Prince Michael.
Jackson’s childhood was unusual, to say the least. For one, her mother suggested that Michael keep the children’s faces covered in public, as kidnapping threats had been made against them. And so Paris often appeared with a veil of some sort draped over her face. That didn’t stop the paparazzi, however. In fact, in many ways it only fueled the public’s curiosity.
As the daughter of one of the most famous men on Earth, moreover, Paris was considered celebrity royalty. And in many ways her lifestyle was undoubtedly very showbiz: even her godparents were big screen-icons – Elizabeth Taylor and Macaulay Culkin.
But while her father was beloved by millions, he was also deeply troubled. Allegations that Michael was a pedophile have swirled for years and have persisted even after his death. When the controversial star passed away, meanwhile, his mother Katherine became Paris’ legal guardian.
After her dad’s death, Jackson slowly began to make public appearances. Most notably, she sat down for an interview with Oprah in 2010; in the same year, furthermore, she and her brothers collected the Grammys’ Lifetime Achievement Award in their dad’s absence.
Still, Paris did get to do a few somewhat normal kid activities. While at California’s elite private institution The Buckley School, for example, she enjoyed playing softball and cheerleading.
But in 2013 Jackson went through a very dark period. In 2012 she appeared on Oprah’s The Next Chapter and revealed how deeply affected she had been by cyberbullying. And unfortunately, the following year, it all became too much: medics were summoned to her home after she tried to take her own life.
Fortunately, help arrived in time, and Jackson recovered and received therapy at the Alpine Academy in Utah. This unique residential facility specializes in helping troubled teens, and Jackson emerged looking better than ever.
Now, Jackson is living a happier life and forging a career as an actress; her first film, Lundon’s Bridge and the Three Keys, is set to hit screens in 2017. In it, Jackson plays the daughter of a marine biologist who befriends a dolphin and takes a fantastical trip through the ocean.
The teen is also leading a more public life and, like her father, has become somewhat of a fixture in the tabloids. In 2015, for example, it was rumored that Jackson had become engaged to her first love, soccer player Chester Castellaw. The romance didn’t last, however, and yet speculation then followed that she was to wed drummer Michael Snoddy. Both engagements turned out to be false.
Meanwhile, Jackson has grown into a beautiful, striking young woman and like a lot of teens seems fond of changing her look. She’s had long brown tresses, jet black locks and, most recently, a punk-style platinum blonde cut.
And she doesn’t seem shy, either, judging by the fact that she recently appeared alongside her boyfriend, Michael Snoddy, in a sexy photo spread for the magazine Flaunt. Some of the images featured the 18-year-old in a steamy liplock with her beau, which caused a bit of a buzz.
The famous teen is incredibly fond of ink, too, and likes to express herself through body art. In fact, she recently got inked over 20 times in the span of two months. And, touchingly, many of her tats pay homage to her late father.
Among other things, her various inkings include a snake and a sketch of the New York City skyline. Moreover, some of them disguise the scars she was left with after self-harming.
For Jackson, then, the tattoos symbolize healing. “My scars and past of self-hatred have been covered by loving marks, creativity, ingenuity… and depth,” she posted on Instagram. “Sure, I will always carry my past with me, but I see ink as a way of changing for the better, always improving. They represent strength for me.”
Sadly, the dark mystery surrounding her father will likely always be a part of her life. Jackson is currently estranged from her biological mother, too. Plus, there are rumors that her relationship with her brother Prince is pretty strained as well.
And as recently as June 2016, there were new reports that her father had been hoarding underage pornography at Neverland Ranch. Jackson vehemently defended her dad, however, and tweeted, “Unfortunately negativity will always sell. I urge you all to ignore the trash and the parasites who make a career trying to slander my father.”
And although she is growing up, the world will always remember Jackson as the little girl with the startling blue eyes and the only daughter of one of our greatest entertainers. It’ll be interesting to see where her unusual life takes her, but here’s hoping there are many happy days ahead for her.