Tragic Details About Wade Robson's Life

This article discusses abuse, mental illness, and suicide.

Wade Robson is known for his dancing and choreography skills, and he has worked with several pop stars, including Britney Spears. However, his friendship with Michael Jackson, which began when he was seven, has been the topic of much discussion. As an adult, Robson would come forward with allegations of sexual abuse against Jackson.

"Michael Jackson was one of the kindest, most loving people I knew. He helped me tremendously with my career and my creativity," Robson told The Guardian in 2019. "He also sexually abused me for seven years." Robson would share his story with the world with the help of the documentary "Leaving Neverland." Seeing the public reaction to it and feeling the support also helped him to heal. "There's a lot of release happening for me. There's been a lot of tears. There's tiredness. But this is a sea change moment for me in this healing journey and in trying to be heard," he told the Los Angeles Times in 2019. But this is just one of the many tragic things that Robson endured and has overcome. 

Wade Robson has spoken out against childhood abuse

It would take Wade Robson years before he came forward with allegations against Michael Jackson. Robson addressed what happened to him in a blog post on his website, Wade Robson. The post from 2018 is titled "Father Figure." He recalls how he met Jackson when he was five after winning a competition, and two years later, at seven, he met him again. "This meeting was the beginning of a 19-year 'friendship' commencing with seven years of Michael sexually abusing me," he wrote. Robson and Jackson had a relationship where they referred to each other as "dad" and "son," which the dancer claims made him feel "incredibly special."

Robson spoke about the abuse in an interview with The Guardian in 2019. "He made me feel complicit, that I wanted it at least as much if not more than him," he said. As for why it took so long for Robson to come forward? He addressed this in the "Leaving Neverland" documentary (via Esquire), saying, "As soon as the cop started asking me these questions, the first thing that came to mind was everything Michael started telling me when I was seven. If anyone ever found out that we were doing these sexual things that he and I would go to jail for the rest of our lives. It was terrifying."

He regrets testifying for Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson faced abuse allegations in 1993, but Wade Robson spoke in the "Smooth Criminal" singer's defense against claims he molested Jordan Chandler. Robson claimed nothing had occurred between himself and Jackson. "I was excited by the idea of being able to defend him. And being able to save him," Robson said in the documentary "Leaving Neverland" (via People) of his decision to speak out. 

Robson testified on behalf of Jackson again when he was on trial in 2005 for the alleged molestation of Gavin Arvizo. Jackson was later acquitted. But in 2019, Robson said in "Leaving Neverland" (via Esquire) that he had been reluctant to speak against Arvizo — and Jackson tried to convince him otherwise. "At some point, I worked up the courage to tell Michael that I don't want to testify. I remember silence on the phone for a while," Robson said. "He said, 'I understand it's really hard, and it's tough to go through this with all of the media and everything, but we can't let them do this to us. We can't let them take us down. Us, us, us."

In a chat with Vanity Fair in 2020, Robson again explained why he had defended Jackson despite his own abuse. "I loved Michael, and I was trying to save him. So many things were going on at the same time: fear, shame, confusion, and love," he explained. He also told the publication he felt he was left with "no choice."

He felt replaced by Macaulay Culkin

Macaulay Culkin has denied anything inappropriate happened between him and Michael Jackson. "I'm gonna begin with the line — it's not a line; it's the truth: He never did anything to me. I never saw him do anything. And especially at this flash point in time, I'd have no reason to hold anything back," Culkin told Esquire in 2020. Culkin and Jackson were good friends despite Culkin being a child. This friendship is something that Wade Robson has discussed publicly, noting how he felt replaced by the "Home Alone" actor.

In "Leaving Neverland" (via Decider), Robson reflected on how he fell out of favor with Jackson. "Macaulay was where I was in my previous trips, right by Michael's side every moment," he said. "And now I was kind of on the side like, as far as being Michael's friend and being his favorite, and that was really confusing. What did I do wrong?" Robson questioned. He also claims he felt "hurt" by being pushed aside, which became apparent when he took part in the music video for Jackson's 1991 song, "Black or White" (it also features Culkin).

Robson's mother, Joy Robson, reflected on how "Macaulay had taken Wade's place in Michael's best friend category" and broke her son's heart. She also claimed in the documentary (via Business Insider) that Robson was not the only one to be replaced by Jackson. "Every 12 months, there was a new boy in his life," she said.

He has faced depression

Wade Robson has shared details of his depression in an emotional and eye-opening blog post. On his eponymous website, he created a post in 2019 titled "Depression." "My earliest memories of experiencing what could be called depression would have been in my early teenage years," he wrote. "Its more crystalized appearance seemed to coincide with my expanding external success in the entertainment business. A pattern of sorts started to develop: get the job, leap into a creative/productivity high, work like an absolute madman, battle with perfectionism, finish the job, then fall into a melancholy sadness until the next job." 

Robson discussed how his success was directly linked to his feelings about himself and his need for validation. "I only felt that I was likable, lovable if I was working on something, and working on something big," he wrote. He has since found ways to heal with, among other things, therapy, yoga, "exercise, healthy eating, vulnerable communication with and listening to those I love, and time in nature." However, this is not the only time Robson has addressed his struggles. The dancer also discussed the stigma associated with gender and mental health in an interview with The Guardian in 2019. "The stories many of us are taught — what it means to be a man, to be strong at all times, not crying — it definitely made it more difficult for me to question what happened between Michael and me," he said. 

He is reported to have cheated with Britney Spears

Wade Robson has enjoyed success as a dancer and a choreographer. His work saw him working with industry giants like Britney Spears, although there were rumors that their relationship was not strictly professional. Their collaborations included working on Spears' 2001 MTV Video Music Awards performance, and Robson appeared in the music video of her song "(You Drive Me) Crazy." But their closeness was blamed for Spears' breakup with Justin Timberlake.

These reports surfaced again in 2023, when Spears wrote in her memoir, "The Woman in Me," that she had a brief romance with Robson (via Us Weekly). She claimed they had "made out ... that night" at a Spanish bar (via Page Six). But did she downplay the seriousness? Songwriter Annet Artani contested the length of their relationship. "She had written [Robson] a letter and left it in her makeup bag," Artani told TMZ in 2023. "A long, long letter. Like, 14 pages, and [was] basically trying to end it or something like that ... I don't think it was [just] making out at a bar one night. I remember specifically hearing her say ... it was with Wade, and it went on for quite a while."

Robson had previously denied he and Spears were romantically linked. "Britney and I had such a close creative relationship," he told People in 2003. "People always tried to connect us."

Wade Robson had a nervous breakdown

Wade Robson existed in a state of numbness until the birth of his son, Koa Robson. The beautiful moment would trigger a change. "When my son was born in 2011, everything began to unravel," he said in a 2019 interview with Dance Teacher. The star would expand on this in his blog post titled, "Break to Heal, Part I," on his website, Wade Robson. "My emotional reactions to the visuals of my son experiencing what I had as a child were visceral encounters with pain, disgust, and anger," he wrote. "Yet when I recalled myself in these childhood experiences, I still felt completely numb. For the first time in my life, I began to question if there was something wrong with that."

What followed was a nervous breakdown. "My two nervous breakdowns came in 2011 and 2012. The second of which led to me disclosing for the first time in my life the sexual abuse I suffered at the hands of Michael Jackson," he admitted in a blog post titled "Father Figure." "This opened up the floodgates of healing in every aspect of my life." 

TMZ reported on Robson's breakdown in 2013, and sources told the outlet that he was unable to work, resulting in him losing "a ton of money." Robson acknowledges his need for cash. "I sold some Jackson items at auction in 2011 to raise money for therapy following a nervous breakdown," he told People in 2019. 

His career has been a challenge because of his past

Wade Robson was a child star, and his friendship with Michael Jackson opened doors for him, helping him secure his meteoric success. But Robson would later take a break from dance and disappear from the entertainment industry. "My relationship with dance had become tainted. Michael Jackson was the reason I began dancing at the age of two. He was my main inspiration and my mentor, but he was also my abuser," he said in an interview with Dance Teacher in 2019. "Dance was so intertwined with him and the abuse that I couldn't separate them."

To help him heal, "The Wade Robson Project" star realized he needed an opportunity to start over. "I quit all of it, and I tried to bury it all alive, and I swore I'd never dance or make music or make films ever again," he told the Los Angeles Times in 2019. "I threw a smoke bomb and moved to Hawaii. 'Agents, managers, don't call me. I'm done.'" The family relocated in 2013. Many fans may have thought this was the last they would see or hear of Robson, but he returned to the limelight in 2017. He told Dance Teacher he realized "that before my relationship with dance had become tainted, it was pure, innocent and joyful," and he was curious if he could return to this place.

Wade Robson's wife banned his mom from their home

Wade Robson did not speak with anyone about what happened to him in his childhood. Not even his wife, Amanda Robson, was aware of what he endured. He recalled the moment Amanda learned of what happened in his appearance on "Leaving Neverland" (via Esquire). "I remember Amanda was on my left, and I remember physically, she just caved in, like someone punched her in the chest," Robson said. Why had he waited so long to say anything? This is because Wade believed his "whole life would be over" if anyone ever found out about the alleged abuse.

"The abuse was a bomb that dropped in our life and exploded," Amanda said in the documentary (via The Mirror). And it "ripped apart everything that we found sound and secure and safe." But it also changed her relationship with Wade's mother, Joy Robson, whom she blamed, in part, for what happened to her son and temporarily forbade from coming to their home. 

Amanda and Wade Robson have since created a charity, The Robson Child Abuse Healing and Prevention Fund. "Wade and Amanda Robson established the charitable fund with a personal $10,000 donation," Wade Robson's website reads. "All donations received go to the Hawaii Community Foundation for the purpose of the fund."

His father died by suicide

Wade Robson's father, Dennis Robson, died by suicide in 2002. Dennis took his life after Wade's older brother, Shane Robson, moved to Los Angeles (Shane joined Wade, his sister Chantal Robson, and their mother, Joy Robson, who were already living there), per Daily Mail.

In 2018, Wade discussed his father in a blog entry titled "Father Figure," posted on his website, Wade Robson. It gives a glimpse into the dancer's relationship with his father and how he processed his death. "I cried a lot that first night after receiving the news. I cried a lot at his funeral. After that, I didnʻt cry much more about him for the next 10 years," he wrote. In the post, Wade recalled how, after he moved to Los Angeles, he was so focused on his career that he had less time for his father. "Dadʻs mental and emotional health continuously declined. We'd talk on the phone every now and then. Mostly, I remember just trying to get it over with," he wrote. Over the next few years, they would not see each other often.

In 2013, Wade addressed his father's death in his legal documents. "The thought that Plaintiff [Wade Robson] might have been sexually abused by Decedent [Jackson] was a huge source of anxiety and depression for his father," the documents state (via The Sun).

His case against Michael Jackson is headed to trial

Wade Robson has discussed his childhood abuse in great detail, but his allegations against Michael Jackson were dismissed in 2021. At the time of dismissal, Robson's attorney, Vince Finaldi, said their legal fight was not over. "If allowed to stand, the decision would set a dangerous precedent that would leave thousands of children working in the entertainment industry vulnerable to sexual abuse by persons in places of power," the statement read, per NBC News.

Jackson died in 2009, but Robson sued Jackson's corporations, MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures companies. Robson's case was updated in 2023 when the California Court of Appeal reversed the 2021 decision. This means that the case will now go to trial. Robson and James Safechuck (who has also alleged abuse by Jackson) gave a joint statement to TMZ in 2023 about the court's decision. "A sexual abuser's passing does not deprive his victims of their day in court and, in turn, justice and healing," the statement reads. "Michael Jackson is not sued personally in this case — his company is, and his company will have every opportunity to defend itself in the trial."

The estate also reacted with a statement. "We are disappointed with the Court's decision. Two distinguished trial judges repeatedly dismissed these cases on numerous occasions over the last decade because the law required it," attorney Jonathan Steinsapir, on behalf of the Estate of Michael Jackson, told People in 2023. Steinsapir also maintained confidence in Jackson's innocence.