15 Black Male Celebrities Get Real About Divorce
Photo: Frazer Harrison; Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

15 Black Male Celebrities Get Real About Divorce

Life lessons from famous men who've been through it

We've all heard the harrowing statistic: About half of American marriages end in divorce. Maintaining a relationship is hard work, and definitely not for the faint of heart. All you can do is go in with the best of intentions and willingness to push through the challenging times and hope for the best. But even then, marriages can run their course.

Going through a divorce can feel like hell (so we hear)—and that pain is amplified for those who deal with it in the public eye. Things can get ugly, quick. And that’s been the case for many of our stars this year. Just yesterday, news of Tina Knowles and Richard Lawson's breakup circulated social media (along with his, ahem, colorful browsing behavior). Ariana Grande and Sofia Vergara respectively announced their divorces recently. Billy Porter is calling it quits, as is Ricky Martin. Just last month, The Cut published an essay titled “The Return of the Messy Celebrity Divorce,” while Insider claims “Divorce is so hot right now. In 2023, we're unapologetically choosing ourselves.”

Related: How Divorce Changed Me, According to Seven Black Men

Yet while celebs got it bad like Usher (who is also once-divorced), that doesn’t mean there aren’t lessons everyday folks can glean from their experiences. For that reason, we’ve compiled some offerings on the subject from Black celebrities who've experienced it firsthand. See what folks like Kevin Hart, Shaq, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson have said about the end of their marriages.

Chris Rock

Ex-Spouse: Malaak Compton-Rock
Marriage length: 19 years
The takeaway: “Getting divorced, you have to f**king start over. You get to reset. It’s not a breakdown, but something in your life broke down.” —Chris Rock, 2017

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Ex-Spouse: Dany Garcia
Marriage length: 11 years
The takeaway: “I don’t quite know what my expectation of marriage was back then. I had made a lot of mistakes and I didn’t have the ability or the wherewithal or the capacity to stop for a moment and say, ‘God, I’m really screwing up. Let me just stop for a moment. Let’s talk about this.’” —Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, 2011

Related: How I Knew I Found My Life Partner, According to Seven Black Men

Dwyane Wade

Ex-Spouse: Siohvaughn Funches
Marriage length: Five years
The takeaway: “There’s no winner in a custody battle… My emotions were all over the place because on one hand, you want to celebrate a victory, but on the other end, no one wins.” —Dwyane Wade, 2020

Kanye West

Ex-Spouse: Kim Kardashian
Marriage length: Eight years
The takeaway: “Divorce feels like full-blown Covid. Divorce feels like your doctor don’t know s**t. Divorce feels like you're walking on glass. Divorce feels like you’re running through a glass wall. Divorce feels like you’re being bullied in a class hall. Divorce feels like you’re getting beat up at the mall. Divorce feels like your hand was burned on the stove. Divorce feels like your soul was dragged over coals. Divorce feels like your grandma never got over that cold. Divorce feels like the first play of the Super Bowl and your ankle rolls. Divorce feels like your kids were snatched from your control. Divorce feels like you’ve been shot and traffic is slow. Divorce feels like heavy breathing. Divorce feels like suffocating, barely breathing. Divorce feels like you’re receiving a spiritual beating every evening." —Kanye West, 2022

Kenya Barris

Ex-Spouse: Rania Barris
Marriage length: 20 years
The takeaway: “Fifty-two percent of all marriages end in divorce. The idea that there are not a lot of Black [screen]writers means my kids have to read about mine. She’s an amazing woman. I have nothing but love for her, but more importantly, I have nothing but love for the world we were able to build together. But it makes me feel for people who are going into relationships because it’s the hardest thing in the world.” —Kenya Barris, 2022

Related: Why Isn’t Therapy a Prerequisite For Marriage?

Kevin Hart

Ex-Spouse: Torrei Hart
Marriage length: Eight years
The takeaway: "In my divorce, I stood up and said to my ex-wife, 'Hey, I messed up. This had nothing to do with you. I didn't understand what marriage was. I cheated. I was wrong.' We couldn't fix it; it got worse. I stepped away because I didn't want it to get any worse... I think that was a very mature thing to do.” —Kevin Hart, 2014

Mekhi Phifer

Ex-Spouse: Malinda Williams
Marriage length: Less than a year
The takeaway: “I was young. I was like 24 years old. And that’s tough being that young in this business, where I was at in this business, and being in a tumultuous relationship. Because you try to do the right thing. Me and her have a son together. We’re happily divorced. We’re better off friends and we’re raising our son together now, but at the time it was crazy. For lack of a better term, you’re traveling and girls are throwing it at you. And sometimes you’re catching it.” —Mekhi Phifer, 2014

Michael Strahan

Ex-Spouses: Wanda Hutchins; Jean Muggli
Marriage length: Four years; seven years
The takeaway: “I had these two little babies and I don't want my little ones to Google when they're older... and say, ‘Daddy, why did you say this about Mommy?’ I didn't want that. It was more important for me to take it and deal with it as a father than to say something that could hurt my kids in the future.” —Michael Strahan, 2014

Related: I’m a Polyamorous Black Man Dating Eight Women. I See How That’s a Massive Mistake.

Nick Cannon

Ex-Spouse: Mariah Carey
Marriage length: Six years
The takeaway: "Divorce is a sense of, 'You failed,' and when you have that level of failure with everyone seeing it, it was a lot on me for a long time. I didn't really know how to process it. I had to go find myself. I had to go within... I have to admit, clearly, I have issues with being selfish. I have issues with insecurity. I have issues where most people can't admit, but I've struggled with my ego and all that stuff. So to be able to open up after marriage and be like, 'Now I got to work on myself. Now I got to work on being the best me,' and still hitting hurdles and still coming up with challenges daily? I'm like, I don't even want to put the toxic energy that I'm working through onto someone else." —Nick Cannon, 2022


Ex-Spouse: Heidi Klum
Marriage length: Seven years
The takeaway: “Just because you decide to separate, I don’t think you all of a sudden stop loving each other. I don’t think you all of a sudden stop being friends.” —Seal, 2012

Shaquille O’Neal

Ex-Spouse: Shaunie Henderson
Marriage length: Seven years
The takeaway: "I was a d**khead. You don't know how good you got something ‘til it's gone." —Shaquille O'Neal, 2022

Related: Do You Want to Be Polyamorous, or Are You Just Horny?

Tiger Woods

Ex-Spouse: Elin Nordegren
Marriage length: Six years
The takeaway: “In hindsight, it’s not how I would change 2009 and how it all came about. It would be having a more open, honest relationship with my ex-wife. The relationship that I have now with her is fantastic. She’s one of my best friends. We’re able to pick up the phone, and we talk to each other all the time. We both know that the most important things in our lives are our kids. I wish I would have known that back then." —Tiger Woods, 2015

Tony Parker

Ex-Spouse: Eva Longoria
Marriage length: Four years
The takeaway: "It's not easy to leave a relationship, because when I get involved in something, I want to do well. The exposure, I could not control. This is the world we live in today; everything is on the internet and on social network sites. I never paid attention to what people said.” —Tony Parker, 2015

Tyrese Gibson

Ex-Spouse: Norma Gibson; Samantha Lee Gibson
Marriage length: One year; three years
The takeaway: “I left the courtroom during my divorce trial, and I realized it was never love, it was just a transaction. We did a whole marriage and did the whole duration of a child and started a family, just to find out it was all about money, status, and transaction. Imagine me being the only actor in a relationship, to then realize I was in a relationship for five years with one of the best actors I’ve ever met in my f**king life.” —Tyrese Gibson, 2023

Related: The Science of Splitting Bills With a Partner, According to Eight Black Men


Ex-Spouse: Tameka Foster
Marriage length: Two years
The takeaway: “I appreciate the relationship for what it was. Even though it didn’t work out, I’m glad we got together. I love her as the mother of my children; we just couldn’t be married. We’re two different people and we have two different goals. It just was never going to work out 100 percent.” —Usher, 2010