Amid the news of the death of Nick Gordon, the partner of the late Bobbi Kristina Brown, Brown and Whitney Houston fans are remembering the turbulent relationship Gordon and Brown shared, as well as the fact that Gordon was found legally liable for Brown's 2015 death after she was found unresponsive and facedown in a bathtub of a townhome she shared with Gordon in Atlanta.
Brown was rushed to a hospital on Jan. 31, 2015, but never regained consciousness and died on July 26, 2015 while in hospice care. An autopsy found several narcotics and prescription drugs in her body, including marijuana, alcohol and medications used for sedation or to treat anxiety. The underlying cause of death was "immersion associated with drug intoxication."
Brown was 22, and the sole heir to her mother Houston's estate. The death was eerily similar to Houston's, who was found dead after accidentally drowning in a Beverly Hills hotel room bathtub the night before the Grammy Awards in February 2012. The coroner said the singer's use of cocaine exacerbated her heart disease and played a role in her death.
After Brown's death, a multimillion-dollar civil suit filed by the conservator of her estate alleged that Gordon had physically abused her — including knocking out teeth and dragging her up stairs — and had controlled her and taken a significant amount of money from her without permission.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the suit alleged that Gordon had maneuvered himself into a boyfriend role, then fraudulently represented himself as Brown's husband to gain access to the estate she'd inherited from Houston.
Later, the suit alleged that Gordon "gave Bobbi Kristina a toxic cocktail rendering her unconscious and then put her face down in a tub of cold water causing her to suffer brain damage." In 2016, a judge in Atlanta ruled that Gordon was liable for Brown's death. The judge said that because Gordon repeatedly failed to meet court deadlines in the case, the conservator of Brown's estate won by default.
Gordon was ordered to pay more than $36 million in damages in November 2016, but no criminal charges were filed against him.
Gordon and Brown's backstory was murky; he was unofficially adopted by Houston at age 12 and raised as a brother to Bobbi Kristina Brown, who is Houston's only daughter with ex Bobby Brown. Gordon and Bobbi Kristina Brown became romantically involved in the wake of Houston's death, and Gordon was reportedly not allowed to attend Bobbi Kristina Brown's memorial service or burial.
After behaving erratically on an episode of Dr. Phil, Gordon completed a stint in rehab in March 2015, then appeared on the show again in April, where he laughed off the multimillion dollar civil case and dismissed the notion that he'd given Brown a "toxic cocktail."
"Think about how far-fetched and ludicrous that sounds," he told host Phil McGraw. "That's just stupid."
Gordon died on Wednesday in Florida following a drug overdose, his brother told PEOPLE. Gordon's attorney Joe Habachy of Atlanta told the Times in a statement that "it's been truly heartbreaking to have witnessed first hand the total devastation that drug addiction has wreaked upon a group of young friends, all of whom were loved and had immense potential."
Habachy also said that despite the challenged Gordon faced in recent years, "he worked hard to hold his head up and stay sober and ... he genuinely wanted a happy healthy life with his family more than anything else. My heart goes out to the family and friends Nick leaves behind and to any other families dealing with the losses and heartache caused by drugs."