It was the smack heard around the world, and also what this year’s Academy Awards are likely to be remembered for. After Will Smith struck comedian Chris Rock in the face as he presented the award for best documentary feature, curious reporters began to uncover Will Smith’s often violent past.
The incident came after Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, mocking her shaved head. Pinkett Smith, an actress, and host of the award-winning talk show Red Table Talk, has publicly shared her struggles with alopecia, an autoimmune disorder that attacks hair cells. The jab was enough to cause Smith to walk on stage and strike the comedian with an open hand, eliciting gasps from the audience.
Before he was a Hollywood star, Smith first achieved recognition as one half of the hip hop duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. In 1989, the musical act won their first Grammy. But just months later, Smith was arrested for his alleged involvement in an attack on record promoter William Hendricks that almost blinded the victim in one eye.
Pinkett Smith is known for her candidness. She has spoken openly about her intimate friendship with one of rap’s most influential artists, Tupac Shakur. She and the legendary rapper attended high school together and remained close when she began dating Smith in 1994. In his 2021 memoir, Will, Smith opened up about how threatening he found his then girlfriend’s relationship with Shakur. Many are left wondering if Will Smith has some mental health issues to work through, however, experts have weighed in as well. Some expert opinions are that Smith, based on his 2021 memior, witnessed abuse in his household growing up. Will and Jada have publically shared their marital issues and been ridiculed for the way they conduct their marriage many times before. It is possible the joke brought forth feelings of rage and shame that Smith reacted to in a high pressure moment.