April 30, 2012 at 1:29 PM ET
In his first interview since the death of Whitney Houston, Bobby Brown exclusively tells TODAY's Matt Lauer, "I'm not the reason she's gone."
In a candid sit-down set to air Wednesday, Brown, who says he’s "very much clean and sober from narcotics," talks to Lauer about the last time he saw Houston, how he found out about her death, and why he gets blamed for her drug use. He talks about his relationship with their daughter, Bobbi Kristina, and addresses recent rumors and controversy surrounding her personal life. And Thursday, speaking publicly for the first time, three of Brown’s children and his fiancée tell TODAY how they feel about the media’s portrayal of Brown.
When asked about the last time he saw Houston, a week or so before she died, Brown says the iconic singer "had this glow about her that was just, you know, incredible. I'm saying to myself, you know, 'She must be ... she must be doing really well,' because she looked really well."
Brown says Houston, to whom he was married for 15 years, "looked like she was in a good place."
Lauer asks Brown how he took the news that cocaine was a likely contributor to the death of Houston, 48, who was found in a bathtub in a Beverly Hills hotel on Feb. 11.
"I was hurt. I was hurt ... because, you know, me being off of narcotics for the last seven years, I felt that she was, you know, I didn’t know she was struggling with it still. But at the same time, you know, listen, it's a hard fight. It's a hard fight to, you know, maintain sobriety that way."
Based on his own feelings and how she appeared when he last saw her, Brown theorizes that that one day of cocaine use -- not the effects of longterm use -- was enough to kill Houston. "It had to be that one, because that's all it takes," Brown said. "One hit, you know ... it could definitely take your life away from you. And, unfortunately, that was it."
Lauer pressed the 43-year-old R&B star on the talk after Houston's death. "If I heard it once, I heard it a hundred times, and I know you heard it too," Lauer said. "Fans, people who say they were close to Whitney, say her life went downhill when she met Bobby Brown. How does it make you feel when you hear it?"
"It makes me feel terrible," Brown said. "But you know, I know differently. I think if anyone ever knew us, if anybody ever spent time around us instead of time lookin' through the bubble, they would know how we felt about each other. They would know how happy we were together."
Brown says the couple got a wakeup call from starring in the reality TV series "Being Bobby Brown." "We looked at the bubble and saw ourselves. We was able to see what other people were saying about us, you know? We was able to see that our drug use had affected our relationship, had affected the love that we felt for each other."
But when asked by Lauer about the popular perception that he is the one responsible for getting Houston hooked on drugs, Brown says, "not true."
"I didn't get high [on narcotics] before I met Whitney," Brown said. "I smoked weed, I drank the beer, but no, I wasn't the one that got Whitney on drugs at all." He says drugs were a part of the singer's life "way before" they got together.
"It's just ... it's just unexplainable how one could, you know, [say that I] got her addicted to drugs. I'm not the reason she's gone," Brown said.
In the second part of Lauer's interview, which will air Thursday, the TODAY host talks with three of Brown's children -- Landon, Bobby Jr., and La’Princia -- and his fiancée, Alicia Etheridge.
The children all say the public perception of their father is not the right one.
"I honestly feel like my dad's a great person," daughter La'Princia said. "He's been my best friend, like, my whole life. If I ever have a problem with anything, I know I can always go to him. Likewise, if he ever needs to talk to somebody, he knows he can always call me and I'll be there for him."
Son Landon says people confuse his father's stage persona with the real man. "I feel like my father's always had the bad boy image. So, you know, they just keep followin' that. Anything that they can take a negative from the situation, they blow it out of proportion and blame him."
La'Princia says everyone makes mistakes.
"They don't see the good part of him that we see every single day. Everyone goes through their ups and downs. You can't be judged forever about one event in your life or just the bad decisions you've made, you can't always be judged just by that."
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