The Real Housewives of Atlanta star Kenya Moore sucks up the spotlight like she was born into it. After all, the reality TV star was once a beauty queen racked up titles and paved the way for other women of color. She was just 22 years old when she became Miss Michigan before clinching the Miss USA pageant in 1993. At the time, she was only the second Black woman to be crowned and made headlines worldwide. She then used her newfound status as a stepping stone to launch her acting career and was soon offered roles on TV in shows like The Parent Hood and Celebrity Apprentice 7, and big-screen movies like Deliver Us From Eva.
Kenya has the world at her feet, and we love watching her (sometimes) shocking antics on RHOA. However, things have not always been easy for the reality star. Her rough childhood alone would have caused many others to crack under the pressure. But she broke barriers so that she would be the best mother to her daughter Brooklyn Daly. Here’s the truth about Kenya’s childhood, but grab a box of tissues — you are going to need it.
Kenya Moore was an unwanted baby
Kenya Summer Moore was born to Patricia Moore and Ronald Grant on Jan. 24, 1971 in Detroit, Mich. They were both only 16 years old when she was born, and during that period in history, birth out of wedlock was a scandal in itself. In February 2021, Kenya told Ozy, “I grew up in the ’70s to teenage parents that did not want to have a child at the time, and it was just very shameful.”
As if that was not painful enough, Kenya’s mother abandoned her when she was just three days old. Not only did she give her child up, but she burdened Kenya in the worst possible way. “Since birth, my mother made the decision at age 16 to pretend she never had me. She has never spoken to me. Even if present in the same room with other people and family, she pretends that I simply don’t exist. She pretends I’m invisible,” Kenya revealed on her Bravo blog. However, the reality star’s story took a turn for the better when an angel took her in. Who raised her and helped to shape her future?
Kenya Moore's grandmother raised her
Doris Grant took in 3-day-old Kenya Summer Moore, per Radar Online. In an episode of the Real Housewives of Atlanta, Kenya revealed how her paternal grandmother took her in when she was just a newborn babe (via Reality Wives). When Patricia Moore got pregnant, she was dispatched to live with her older, college-aged sister, Lori Moore. Her aunt named the infant Kenya because she was dark and beautiful, and she would go on to play an important role in her life. “My aunt Lori is my mother’s sister and has always been a mother figure to me. She is smart, driven, successful, and kind,” Kenya elaborated on her Bravo blog.
Patricia did not want to live her life under a cloud of shame and was considering adoption. But her boyfriend, Ronald Grant, wasn’t having it and made a plan for his daughter’s sake. He asked his mother if she would take in his daughter and she agreed.
Now the name Doris may seem familiar to those who follow the Real Housewives franchise. That’s because Kenya’s young daughter is named Brooklyn Doris after the woman who raised her. “She’s just my angel. I mean, she was my angel. She’s the only mother that I ever knew, and she was an incredible woman,” Kenya said as she paid tribute to her grandmother, who died in 2017 (per Ozy). Doris fed her husband, five kids, and granddaughter by working three jobs. No wonder Kenya feels such gratitude toward her.
Kenya Moore's invisible childhood
Kenya Moore became aware of how her mother felt about her when she was just 4 years old. Her father, Ronald Grant, took her to see Patricia Moore on a surprise visit. Patricia, who must have been around 20 at the time, lost it. “I don’t want to know her. I made my decision four years ago. Nothing has changed. Now leave!” Kenya recalled her mother saying, via Radar Online. At the same age, she also finally had a chance to speak to Patricia on the phone. However, the conversation was brutal. Patricia allegedly let Kenya know, in no uncertain terms, “I am not your mother. You can never call me your mother and you can’t come over here anymore!”
It did not get any better, either. As she grew older, Kenya began to spend some time with her mother’s family. But Kenya’s mother ignored her, per Radar Online. “When I state that she ignored me, I mean that she acted as if I were invisible like I did not exist,” Kenya revealed. As a child, Kenya knew that her mother had rejected her and she was having trouble dealing with the facts. This would come to a head in later years as the poor kid tried to cope with her feelings. Let’s dive into Kenya’s teenage years.
Kenya Moore lashed out during her teen years
As a pre-teen, Kenya Moore ran away from her father’s new Texas home when she was just 12 years old, she revealed to the cameras in a 2016 episode of Real Housewives of Atlanta (via the Daily Mail). “I didn’t like the neighborhood, I didn’t like any of the people, and I didn’t like my school. So I ran away, all the way back to Detroit,” she explained. For five years thereafter, Kenya’s father refused to speak to her. In the episode, he explained that he was hurt because she could not “imagine that pain” and that he “felt like a man who failed.”
In a February 2021 interview with Ozy, Kenya dished that she was not the easiest teen.”I was a hell-raiser because I had such a difficult childhood. When I hit my teenage years, I acted out. So, I was one of those teenagers that just, teenager from hell. Sneaking out of the house, stealing the family car to go places I wasn’t supposed to be going. You name it, I did it,” she told the outlet. In her unpublished memoir, via Radar Online, the reality star indicated that she started having terrible visions and nightmares. A doctor reportedly claimed said dreams were related to her mother abandoning her as a baby.
Kenya was only 14 years old when she started modeling, per The Famous People. Modeling would kickstart Kenya’s career, introducing her to pageants, and eventually the life-changing Miss USA title.
Kenya Moore pays it forward
Despite having such a harrowing childhood, Kenya Moore turned her life into one of success and celebrity — but she also has not forgotten her roots. The reality TV star had a rough start, so she wants to help other young girls with a similar background and childhood.
According to The Famous People, Kenya is giving back to youth who need a helping hand. She founded the Kenya Moore Foundation, which aims to help underprivileged girls from her alma mater, Cass Technical High School in Detroit, with their education. Kenya furthered her studies after high school and completed her degree, with a major in psychology and a minor in communication.
Now that she’s a mother herself, the beauty queen has different priorities. She and her husband, Marc Daly, share a daughter. Brooklyn Doris Daly has defined her “most important job in life,” Kenya posted on Instagram. She has risen above her circumstances and, no matter what, Kenya will never be invisible again. You showed them, girl!
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