Mama June’s tragic real-life story
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June “Mama June” Shannon’s life has been nothing short of tragic. From fat shaming to drug charges to a controversial childhood — the road to fame and fortune has been riddled with adversity for this reality TV star. Shannon and her pageant princess daughter, Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson, first debuted on the TLC show Toddlers and Tiaras. When producers realized this family was a reality show dream, the network gave Shannon and her brood their own show in 2012, dubbed Here Comes Honey Boo. Think about it: How easy is it to find a family that mixes a tub of butter with ketchup, calls it “sketti” (aka spaghetti), and devours it like a Ruth Chris filet?
Here Comes Honey Boo Boo was cancelled in 2014, but that wasn’t the end of the spotlight for this family. In 2017, the WEtv network decided to give Shannon another chance in the reality world with a spin-off show titled Mama June: From Not to Hot. Season 1 focused on its star getting a “revenge” body after splitting from Alana’s dad, Mike “Sugar Bear” Thompson. However, this mama’s subsequent shot at stardom has been riddled with controversy. How did the train wreck that has became Mama June’s life occur? Let’s take a closer look at the tragic real-life story of Mama June.
She lost her virginity at age 12
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June Shannon was born Aug. 10, 1979 in the small town of McIntyre, Ga., and according to Cosmopolitan, her parents, Sandra and Melvin Shannon, divorced when she was 2 years old. June reportedly got pregnant with her oldest child, Anna “Chickadee” Cardwell when she was 14, dropped out of high school, and later earned her GED. Obviously, that’s a lot for a person to take on so early in life.
In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Shannon revealed that she lost her virginity to a classmate when she was just 12 years. She also dated significantly older men at a young age. “I was dating men who were in their 20s and 30s. My mom knew about it. I would kind of lie and say they were 21, 22,” she said. “I was just honestly looking for the attention I wasn’t getting at home.”
Little did June know that the attention she was seeking would arrive in spades when reality TV cameras came calling later in life.
All aboard the reality TV roller coaster
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It’s easy to understand why viewers tuned in to watch June Shannon and her family on TV. Admit it: Mama June’s extreme couponing, one-of-a-kind dinner concoctions, and “forklift foot” were hard to ignore. Forklift what? You read that correctly. Shannon’s big toe was deformed after an accident with a forklift, so she kept it covered at all costs — even wearing a tube sock on that foot at a waterpark. Is a mangled toe tragic? Well, it’s certainly not a lot of fun, particularly if you enjoy lazy rivers.
Shannon’s new-found fame took a bad turn when TLC cancelled the show in 2014, but she managed to stay in the spotlight, though not necessarily for positive reasons. Vivid Entertainment offered her $1 million for a Sugar Bear/Mama June video … of the adult variety. Shannon reportedly nixed that notion. “I have more respect for myself and my kids and my family,” she told TMZ. “It ain’t happening, not even for a zillion dollars.” We can’t help but wonder if Vivid Entertainment asked for an up close of that toe before making that offer. Anyway, it was that type of tabloid fodder that led to more showbiz opportunities … and more tragic consequences.
Mama June and Sugar Bear appeared on WEtv’s Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars in 2015, where he revealed that he’d cheated on her with women and men. It seemed a happy ending was just not in the cards.
She’s been relentlessly body-shamed
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June Shannon returned to the reality show circuit full force in 2017 with a series on WEtv dubbed Mama June: From Not to Hot. As if the title isn’t passive-aggressive enough, the premise of the show was to film Shannon’s full-body makeover. According to E news, she “weighed 460 pounds at her heaviest,” but transformed her appearance after undergoing about $75,000 worth of procedures, including gastric sleeve surgery, a tummy tuck, and a breast lift. She also reportedly removed some excess skin and changed her diet and workout routine. All that, and yet she still felt pressure from the public, with some critics accusing her of “cheating” her way to a size 4. “People think that I’m going to gain the weight back,” she told InTouch, claiming she had slimmed down to about 165 pounds. “I don’t ever want to go back,” she said.
Alas, Season 2 of From Not to Hot depicted its star struggling to stay off the unhealthy food train. “I’m beating myself up … I’ve gained, like, seven pounds,” she told Us Weekly in January 2018. “It won’t come off.” By that June, she’d reportedly regained 25 pounds. “I can lose the weight, I know that,” she told People. “And I know I don’t want to go back over 200 lbs. I’m paying attention to it more.” That didn’t stop the haters from piling on: “Her big belly and turkey neck refuse to be conquered,” reported Radar Online.
She’s losing her vision
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June Shannon says part of the reason she has struggled to maintain her weight loss is because she’s increasingly limiting by vision problems. According to People, Mama June is already blind in her right eye and has undergone multiple surgeries to try to save the vision in her left eye. The problem in her right eye was caused by “childhood cataracts that were never properly treated,” and the issue in the left eye was due to “retinal detachment, a disorder of the eye in which the retina separates from the layer underneath,” the magazine reported.
“It’s been physically and emotionally draining,” Mama June said. “Losing my independence and having to rely on other people for everything has been crazy.” Her eye problems were documented on Mama June: From Not to Hot. In one episode, prior to emergency eye surgery on her “good eye,” Shannon admits she is “totally scared about losing my vision.”
She has struggled with addiction
The Season 3 finale of Mama June: From Not to Hot features an incredibly intense intervention from loved ones who believe June Shannon needs help to combat substance abuse. “If this intervention doesn’t work, she’s either gonna wind up in jail or she’s going to die,” daughter Lauryn “Pumpkin” Shannon says on the show. Daughter Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson is also upset: “Do you not understand that I am staying with my sister … And that’s not by choice?” she wails, begging her mother to get help. “I’m not going to lie to you, I’m scared to stay at your house,” Alana says. Pumpkin also appeared to acknowledge the family drama on social media, tweeting: “A child’s shoulders were not built to bear the weight of their parents choices.”
The From Not to Hot finale was heartbreaking to watch, particularly when Mama June says, “I f***ing hate myself. I want to f***ing kill the person I am now.” She agreed to go to rehab, but checked herself out just 12 hours later, according to the Daily Mail. It all went downhill from there…
Mama June leaves rehab and heads to jail
Macon County Sheriff’s Department
June Shannon’s boyfriend, Eugene “Geno” Doak, reportedly picked her up from rehab, and just two days later, they were both arrested on drug charges at an Alabama gas station. According to a police report obtained by TMZ, the couple was on its way home from the Victory Land casino when someone called police to report a domestic dispute. According to the report, Doak told officers at the scene not to reach inside his pocket, saying: “I don’t want you to get sticked or nothing.” Police reportedly found a needle on Doak and found “a glass pipe with white residue inside” on Shannon. Cops also reportedly found another needle and “a green pill bottle containing a white controlled substance” in Shannon’s vehicle, the tab reported. “June said the white substance was crack cocaine.”
According to the Macon County Sheriff’s Office, Mama June was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia; Doak was charged with domestic violence/harassment and possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia. The March 2019 arrest clearly marked a new and tragic low for Shannon, but Doak reportedly had a sizable rap sheet prior to his legal woes with Mama June. TMZ reported that “Geno’s been arrested for burglary, theft and damage to property. He’s also done jail time.”
Her family blames Geno
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June Shannon’s family reportedly believes Geno Doak is not good for her. Sources say her loved ones think “she’ll continue putting herself at risk as long as she’s with him.” The tab cited legal docs alleging that Doak even “threatened to kill June during a domestic dispute.”
According to WALB News, Shannon wrote a letter to the court following the couple’s headline-making arrest in March 2019, claiming the “situation at the gas station got heated and out of hand, but never was I in fear for my safety or did I want the police involved.” A judge reportedly ordered Doak to stay away from Shannon, but the couple was spotted together at a casino just days later.
Maybe they were trying to win money for legal fees, or perhaps they were videotaped at the joint because they’re allegedly living there. According to — you guessed it — TMZ, “Mama told a fellow gambler she lives at the [Wind Creek] casino [in Montgomery, Ala.] and has been staying on the property for the past few months.” Doak was also spotted at the casino with his lucky lady.
P.S. As of May 2019, the couple’s lawyer has reportedly broken up with these two.
Who will take care of Honey Boo Boo?
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Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson and her big sister, Lauryn “Pumpkin” Shannon, appear to be leaning on one another as June Shannon struggles. In June 2019, Alana posted a photo with Lauryn on Instagram and captioned it: “my BFF.” According to TMZ, insiders claim Mama June’s daughters “understand their mom is going through a tough time … and want to keep their distance from her and the drama.” Word is that “June rarely sees her family these days.”
Rumor has it that Alana’s father, Mike “Sugar Bear” Thompson, wants full custody of Alana. An insider told Hollywood Life that he’s “furious” with his ex “for getting into trouble yet again.” The source claimed, “Sugar Bear fears that June may be messing with drugs and that [Geno Doak] is untrustworthy. Mike feels this is all unhealthy for Alana.””
A lawyer told Hollywood Life that Mama June’s arrest “could certainly impact the parties’ child custody litigation” because “substance abuse is expressly identified as a factor for the Court’s consideration in determining the best interests of the child, which is the ultimate issue in deciding child custody cases.”
Her loved ones want the ‘old’ Mama June back
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June Shannon’s loved ones gathered during the Season 3 finale of Mama June: From Not to Hot to share concerns about the reality star’s tragic state. “I just wish we had the old June back,” says Doe Doe Shannon, June’s sister, as she reminisces about how the world was once June’s “oyster.” Family friend Michael “Big Mike” Mclarty says, “I hate that she’s ruining her life … Everybody makes mistakes but you gotta bounce back.”
At the end of the episode, viewers watch June’s daughters, Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson and Lauryn “Pumpkin” Shannon, play at a park with Lauryn’s daughter, Ella. Alana thanks her big sister for giving her a place to live and asks Lauryn if she thinks their mother will ever get herself together. “I hope so,” Pumpkin replies. “You know she is a grown woman. If she wants to get herself together, she’ll get it together. If not, then I guess she’ll never learn.”
Time will tell, but we’re certainly hoping Mama June’s tragic real-life story takes a happier turn.