After SWV Fame, LeLee Sadly Detailed Being Homeless, Using Men/Women To Survive, And More
In 2007, shortly after SWV reunited, LeLee did an interview with Jamie Foster, the owner of Sister 2 Sister magazine, to reveal some very personal details about what it was really like for her throughout the years, after SWV broke up and what she revealed will leave you in shock and shedding a tear.
LeLee is known to be a very straight up woman who has no problem speaking extremely candidly, so when revealing these truths about her life, she held nothing back and for her bravery and her honesty, we salute her to the fullest. For the record, we would like to note that LeLee and her group members, Coko and Taj have all confirmed that LeLee never revealed how bad things were for her to Coko nor Taj…in fact, she did a great job at hiding it from them.
Okay with that said, you have to see what LeLee revealed about herself…
Lelee on where she came from…
My story is a long story. It’s just being in the neighborhoods I was in. Just being in the Bronx and just settling. I can’t speak for all the girls in the Bronx, but when I was in high school, everything…was a struggle and it was about survival.
My father left when I was 10. I was rebellious after that. I didn’t understand why he left and he was dating all these different women. Like, I’ve actually gone with my father to other women’s houses and I’m like, ‘oh that’s what that was.’ He was cheating.
Cheating on your mom? Were they married?
Yeah they were married and it was just really bad. I had a really bad childhood. So even now I still live out of a bag because…as a child I would come home, I didn’t know whether or not I was going to be able to get in the door; if my mom had paid the rent or not. And even now it’s affecting me as an adult because I’m so scared that I’m gonna get evicted or get put out or somebody’s following me. It’s crazy. It was just my mind-frame being that we came from a very unstable household.
How many kids were there?
There was five. … So my hustle was the local drug dealer, you know? How I ate lunch was to go on a date with them. I worked. I had my first child at 15.
So you would go on a date with the local guy?
Yeah, you know, ’cause I was kinda cute when I was younger.
You’re cute now.
I would be walking down the street. I was fascinated with the cars and stuff, so I got a few beeps-a few horn beeps. I was looking at it as survival, as my next meal. It was that.
What was your mom doing?
My mom had a job. She was a housekeeper making $8.50 an hour. She made no money. When my mother passed away, the little money I made from being in the group or whatever, I paid for my mom’s funeral. She had no insurance-nothing. Absolutely nothing. I didn’t know this as a child.
When the group stopped, what did you do to eat?
Well it was very, very difficult because I went through a whole lot of emotional issues because it was almost like-when we broke up-like a marriage (breaking up). I mean I have worked jobs, I went to school, and I did what I had to do. And it was hard but I had to separate the woman from the entertainer. The woman in me said I had to get off my ass and take care of my kids. So I had to deal with all the BS-people looking at me like, “She’s a has-been”- and I dealt with all of that. That actually helped me become the person that I am today, because I am so delivered from people. It’s nothing anybody can say to really get me to that falling point.
What kind of jobs did you have?
Accounting. I went to school and got my associate’s degree in accounting. I thought I was pretty good.
LeLee on how things started to get bad while SWV were still together…
When we were out, our team sucked. I mean from lawyers to accountants, I ain’t gonna tell you how much money they done ripped me off for, you know? And all of that stuff affected my kids, I mean, it was bad. I was living in my truck and it was so bad. I would go to different clubs just to meet people so I could have a place to stay for the night. But nobody knew. … I would go to gay clubs and meet girls just to have someplace to sleep.
Where were the kids? [LeLee has two children]
My sister was taking care of them. It was so hard for me to tell this story, but I am comfortable with telling it now. But it was crazy.
We got ripped of so bad; we didn’t now what to do. We had a tax ID-we had a company account-but we didn’t even know the tax ID number. That’s how bad it was. This accountant we had, he was horrible. I enjoy the stage; I love the people, and it’s the people that make you really want to keep doing this. But I don’t know if being in this business was good or a curse.
I would think that you would go on a speaking circuit. You can tell your story to get young girls to change their lives.
Well, Taj has a foundation, and I have done that actually. She had me come out and speak to teen mothers in shelters and I really enjoyed it because it brought me back. I was pregnant at 15 with my first child. I had a second child at 17, so you had my father’s side that was so educated ad they looked so down (on) me and told me I would be nothing-be on welfare and all those things. I was working since I was 14; I dropped out of school to work.
How did you get in the group (SWV)?
I started the group, I put everything together. I saw Shanice Wilson on “Star Search,” I was like ‘wow, I wanna do that.’
So nobody came out of the group with any money?
I don’t know what they had. I really don’t now. Once the group disbanded, the record company gave me $25,000 and that was it.
You all [hadn’t] really talked to each other?
We were so screwed up. I mean we were all messed up.
Were you promiscuous?
I was very promiscuous as a kid. I was bad.
Why was that?
My mom had me at 45, so as I grew up, my mom was old. So if you ask my mom about a condom she’s like, “What you want to know about that for?” I had to learn everything on my own from men.
On how she seriously contemplated suicide: (via the Bethenny Show)
“I was very depressed. I mean I got to the point where I was just going to end my life. It was that bad. If I couldn’t have, what I had before, if I couldn’t have SWV and be who I was, as the world knew me as, I wanted to die,”
How she overcame her most crucial suicidal thought: (via the Bethenny Show)
“I was at the Marriott Marquee on 42nd Street and umm, I was up to my last $150,” Lyons shared. “I was like, ‘Damn, I can’t afford to be in here another night. So, I called my sister, one of my sisters and she didn’t answer the phone. I called my other sister. It was no conversation. This is how the spirit works. I’m telling you because, all she said was, ‘Just come home.’ And we just was crying. I went in that hotel, looked in the mirror and I just cried. I’m like, ‘What were you thinking?’ Had she not answered that phone, I probably wouldn’t be here today.”
On being homeless and broke at her group member, Taj’s wedding to her husband, former NFL player Eddie George
When I was a bridesmaid at Taj’s wedding, I was homeless. It was just a pride thing. It was so much pride. As long as my kids were taken care of, I can always go from one apartment to another to shack with people. As long as I have someplace to stay for the night. it was crazy.
So what it like being back with Coco and Taj?
I love it, it’s like everybody’s so renewed. Everything that happened between us-all the bickering-it was meant to happen.
LeLee is a great example that not everything is what it seems on the surface. She’s proven to have been a misguided child, who grew up to be a woman of strength, a woman of character, a humble spirit and one of the realest personalities in the music game, because many people would be far too embarrassed to publicly reveal their weaknesses and hardships, like she has. She overcame many adversities and soared to the top; then dropped down to what probably felt like a bottomless pit; and now in her 40’s she has managed to climb out of it and rebuild once again.
Thank you Leanne “LeLee” Lyons, job well done…keep building your legacy Queen.