J. Cole Admits He Was Addicted To Cigarettes At Age 6

To many of his fans J. Cole is a model rapper with limited flaws. While the 38-year-old almost never speaks about his personal life and family, Jermaine opened up about his childhood during a recent interview with Warriors president and General Manager Bob Myers for his ESPN podcast “Lead by Example.”

During the hour-long conversation, the reclusive rapper admitted he was addicted to cigarettes at a young age.

“At 6 years old, I was smoking cigarettes regularly around the neighborhood,” J. Cole explained at the 3:55-mark of the interview. “I was always hanging around the older kids in the neighborhood that [my older brother] was hanging around and they were smoking. And I was young and fearless and trying to be cool. So, it was like, ‘Oh, y’all smoking. Let me see that.’ And, of course, we’re all out there [with] young parents, long leashes. Not that [my mom] knew I was doing this.”

“To them, it’s funny. They’re 10 themselves. So, it’s funny for them. Nobody’s really worried about me. They’re 10 and smoking cigarettes,” he continued. “This is going on for two-three weeks. One day, I’m down the street at a house where it was happening at and my brother comes up and I asked one of our homeboys in the neighborhood, “Yo, You got any cigarettes?'”


Cole revealed he was forced to quit after his older brother told his mother about his nicotine addiction, which he says left her heartbroken.

“This was literally a life-changing moment,” he recalled. “When she smelled cigarettes on my breath, her face was like, it was heartbroken, it was disbelief, it was like crushed. I remember the look on her face. She was like, ‘You have been smoking.’”

“That was the first time that I became aware that my actions can hurt someone else. Things that I do, my decisions, can hurt somebody else.”

Elsewhere in the interview, the Fayetteville, N.C. rapper spoke on the important life lessons he hopes his two kids can learn.

“There’s curiosity of what will they become, what will their interests be, but there’s no wish or hope in terms of what it is,” he said. “The thing that I learned at 30, I hope you can learn at 15 or 16… I want you to be able to learn the lessons that could lead you to peace quicker because I know what life is like…to not be living in your peace and your comfort and your confidence.”

Watch the Lead by Example podcast episode below.

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