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Prince Jackson opens up in rare interview about memories of dad Michael Jackson

The oldest child of the late pop star spoke about how he learned his dad was famous, and as well as a "guiding principle" he still lives by.
/ Source: TODAY

Prince Jackson has opened up in a rare interview about what it was like growing up as the son of late music legend Michael Jackson.

Jackson, 24, who is the oldest of the pop icon's three children, spoke to FOX Soul about the advice his father gave him when he was younger, as well as when he realized the extent of his father's fame.

Jackson died at 50 in 2009 when Prince, whose given name is Michael Joseph Jackson Jr., was 12.

"You know, there are so many nuggets there that are just so close to my heart that I feel like they’re applicable at all times," Jackson said. "But the one that is my guiding principle is that you never stop learning. I graduated, and that doesn’t mean that I stopped learning.

"And my father also would say something along the lines of, 'The minute that you stop learning is the minute that you’re going to start dying.'"

Jackson graduated cum laude from Loyola Marymount University with a business degree in 2019, celebrating the proud moment with his younger brother, Bigi Jackson, 19, who joined his brother to cheer him on.

Jackson spoke with FOX Soul about occasionally switching between using "Prince" and "Mike" while in school. Bigi was actually born Prince Michael Joseph II and was called "Blanket" by his father, but the older Jackson has long gone by Prince.

"Sometimes 'Mike' is nice for anonymity, but I also take a lot of pride in that because it's obviously my father's name," he said. "It was just easier for me to say 'Mike' instead of 'Prince.' I just switch it."

Jackson also shared how he eventually learned his father was an international superstar. He said there wasn't one single "a-ha moment."

"It's really more like there was little seeds, as I was growing up and getting older, and I saw that people would follow us around, people would just want to reach out and touch my dad," he said.

It hit home when he was about 10 or 11 and saw a video of one of his father's concerts.

"He was performing outside and you just see this sea of people, and there's people fainting in the audience," he said. "I asked my dad I'm like, 'Why were they fainting? I see you every day and I don't faint.'"

That's when he had a realization "that people really loved my father."

The late pop star's legacy, of course, has been tarnished in recent years.

In the 2019 HBO documentary "Leaving Neverland," two men accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them as children. The Jackson family estate denied the claims and called the film "a tabloid character assassination." The estate also sued HBO for $100 million.

Michael Jackson was acquitted of criminal charges related to the alleged sexual molestation of a 13-year-old boy in 2005, and repeatedly denied wrongdoing during his lifetime.

The FOX Soul interviewers didn't ask Prince Jackson about the documentary or the molestation claims made against his father.

In recent years, the younger Jackson has turned his attention to philanthropy through his work with the Heal Los Angeles Foundation, a charity to help inner-city youth in Los Angeles through educational initiatives and healthy meals for those in need.

"I would hope he would be proud of the work we've done so far," Jackson said.