Will Smith says his 'heart shattered' when son Jaden asked to be emancipated at age 15


Will Smith will open up about his regrets as a father in his upcoming memoir Will which is set for a November 9 release.

In an excerpt shared with People on Friday, the 53-year-old actor recalled how devastated his son Jaden, now 23, was after the critical and commercial failure of their 2013 film After Earth.

‘After Earth was an abysmal box office and critical failure,” the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air actor wrote. ‘And what was worse was that Jaden took the hit.’

Opening up: Will Smith will open up about his regrets as a father in his upcoming memoir Will which is set for a November 9 release; seen in 2020

Opening up: Will Smith will open up about his regrets as a father in his upcoming memoir Will which is set for a November 9 release; seen in 2020

‘Fans and the press were absolutely vicious; they said and printed things about Jaden that I refuse to repeat. Jaden had faithfully done everything that I’d instructed him to do, and I had coached him into the worst public mauling he’d ever experienced.’ 

The Pursuit of Happiness actor was heartbroken when Jaden, who was 15-year-old at the time of After Earth’s release, told him he wanted to be emancipated. 

‘We never discussed it, but I know he felt betrayed. He felt misled, and he lost his trust in my leadership,” Smith said. ‘At fifteen years old, when Jaden asked about being an emancipated minor, my heart shattered. He ultimately decided against it, but it sucks to feel like you’ve hurt your kids.’

Devastating: In an excerpt shared with People on Friday, the 53-year-old actor recalled how devastated his son Jaden, now 23, was after the critical and commercial failure of their 2013 film After Earth; Jaden seen in After Earth

Devastating: In an excerpt shared with People on Friday, the 53-year-old actor recalled how devastated his son Jaden, now 23, was after the critical and commercial failure of their 2013 film After Earth; Jaden seen in After Earth

'Fans and the press were absolutely vicious; they said and printed things about Jaden that I refuse to repeat. Jaden had faithfully done everything that I'd instructed him to do, and I had coached him into the worst public mauling he'd ever experienced'; seen in After Earth

‘Fans and the press were absolutely vicious; they said and printed things about Jaden that I refuse to repeat. Jaden had faithfully done everything that I’d instructed him to do, and I had coached him into the worst public mauling he’d ever experienced’; seen in After Earth

Just as he wrote about lessons he learned when it came to Jaden’s career, he also wrote about the knowledge he gained when it came to his daughter Willow, now 21.

Following the release of her hit song Whip My Hair in 2010, Willow signed up for a month-long tour opening for Justin Bieber. However, she wasn’t enjoying the tour and told her dad she wanted to stop at the end of the European leg of the trip.  

Smith reminded her that she had upcoming tour dates in Australia and therefore couldn’t stop touring. His daughter took drastic measures. 

‘Willow came skipping into the kitchen for breakfast. “Good morning, Daddy,” Willow said joyfully, as she bounced to the refrigerator,’ Smith recalls in his new book. ‘My jaw nearly dislocated, dislodged, and shattered on the kitchen floor: My world-dominating, hair-whipping, future global superstar was totally bald. During the night, Willow had shaved her entire head. 

Heartbreaking: The Pursuit of Happiness actor was heartbroken when Jaden, who was 15-year-old at the time of After Earth's release, told him he wanted to be emancipated; Jaden seen in September

Heartbreaking: The Pursuit of Happiness actor was heartbroken when Jaden, who was 15-year-old at the time of After Earth’s release, told him he wanted to be emancipated; Jaden seen in September 

'It sucks': 'We never discussed it, but I know he felt betrayed. He felt misled, and he lost his trust in my leadership," Smith said. 'At fifteen years old, when Jaden asked about being an emancipated minor, my heart shattered. He ultimately decided against it, but it sucks to feel like you've hurt your kids'; (L-R) Willow Smith, Jaden Smith, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith pictured in 2012

‘It sucks’: ‘We never discussed it, but I know he felt betrayed. He felt misled, and he lost his trust in my leadership,” Smith said. ‘At fifteen years old, when Jaden asked about being an emancipated minor, my heart shattered. He ultimately decided against it, but it sucks to feel like you’ve hurt your kids’; (L-R) Willow Smith, Jaden Smith, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith pictured in 2012

‘My mind raced and scrambled — how was she going to whip her hair if she didn’t have any? Who the hell wants to pay to watch some kid whip their head back and forth?’

‘But before I could respond, I felt something slowly turning, shifting, until it clicked into place: In a moment of divine connection and revelation, she had reached me. I leaned down, peered deeply into her eyes, and said, “I got it. I am so sorry. I see you.”‘  

Will’s memoir will take readers through his relationship with all three of his children: 29-year-old Trey, 23-year-old Jaden and 21-year-old Willow.

He will also detail his marriages to Sheree Zampino, with whom he shares Trey, and Jada Pinkett Smith, the actress and mother of Jaden and Willow, both the good and the bad of all of his relationships.

Learning from his daughter too: Smith also relayed a parenting lesson he learned when his daughter Willow no longer wanted to tour despite a commitment she made

Learning from his daughter too: Smith also relayed a parenting lesson he learned when his daughter Willow no longer wanted to tour despite a commitment she made

All about the family: Smith's book will talk about all three of his kids and give the audience a look at both of his marriages (pictured 2016)

All about the family: Smith’s book will talk about all three of his kids and give the audience a look at both of his marriages (pictured 2016)

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