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All About Nick Cannon's Parents, James Cannon and Beth Gardner

'The Masked Singer' host had unique interests growing up, thanks to his dad

<p>Gregg DeGuire/WireImage</p> Nick Cannon and his parents during AFI Fest 2006 Black Tie Opening Night Gala.

Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

Nick Cannon and his parents during AFI Fest 2006 Black Tie Opening Night Gala.

Nick Cannon has learned many lessons from his parents, James Cannon and Beth Gardner.

The TV host, comedian and musician was born on Oct. 8, 1980, but his dad and mom were only 17 years old at the time, and his paternal grandparents primarily raised him.

Speaking to DJ Vlad in 2018, Nick explained, “My pops and my mom ... had me when they were still in high school. So my grandmother was kind of like, Big Mama.”

As he grew up, his parents took on larger roles in his life, later showing their support for him at dozens of events and premieres, as well as birthday parties and other important milestones.

While The Masked Singer host isn’t shy about discussing the family he’s creating — he’s welcomed 12 children since 2011 — he’s mostly kept details about his parents and his own upbringing out of the spotlight.

From how they met to how they influenced him, here’s everything to know about Nick Cannon’s parents, James Cannon and Beth Gardner.

They met through a mutual friend

<p>Kevin Winter/Getty</p> Nick Cannon with his mother Beth and father James at his 30th birthday bash at Universal Studios Hollywood on October 9, 2010.

Kevin Winter/Getty

Nick Cannon with his mother Beth and father James at his 30th birthday bash at Universal Studios Hollywood on October 9, 2010.

James and Beth met through a mutual friend while they were still in high school, he recounted to The Sun. They first connected at a New Year’s house party on Jan. 1, 1980, and two weeks later, the teenagers learned that they were expecting a child together.

"I met [Beth] January 1 at a friend's house, she was pregnant by the 17th," James told the outlet. "I was young, she was more mature.”

They welcomed Nick as teenagers

Ahead of Nick’s arrival, James and Beth debated how to handle their pregnancy. "I was in church, I was like, 'We've got to talk about this,' " he said to The Sun. “But I was not ready to get married.”

Beth gave birth to Nick on Oct. 8, 1980, in San Diego, California. She and James separated soon after.

"She wanted to go on and do her thing,” James explained to the publication. “She let Nick come and live with me and my mom at two months old."

James’ parents helped raise Nick

<p>Nick Cannon Instagram</p> Nick Cannon and his father James Cannon.

Nick Cannon Instagram

Nick Cannon and his father James Cannon.

Nick was raised by his paternal grandparents, James Ernest Cannon Sr. and his wife Marie. The TV personality gave a glimpse into his family life when he announced on Instagram that James Sr. died on May 21, 2016.

Seven years later, Nick, who called his grandfather “Pop,” shared an emotional tribute to him on Instagram to mark his birthday.

“My Mentor! My namesake! My Teacher! My Foundation! My Father of all Fathers! Now my Angel!” he wrote alongside a slideshow of photos showing the pair throughout the years, originally created by Nick’s aunt, Dr. Tammy Cannon Williams.

“Love and Miss you Dearly. Rest in Paradise with the Most High! Happy Heavenly Birthday Pop aka Lonesome,” Nick added.

Speaking to DJ Vlad in 2018, Nick explained that his grandmother was instrumental in raising him.

“While my mom was going to school, and working a couple of jobs, and my dad went off and got into some trouble," the All That star said. "He kind of changed his life and had to move out of California — so my grandmother was kind of the matriarch of the family.”

James has a younger sister

James is seven years older than his sister Tammy, who was just 10 years old when Nick was born. While she’s technically Nick’s aunt, she refers to him as her “little brother,” given their closeness in age.

“Happy birthday to my ‘little brother’ my nephew @nickcannon,” she wrote on Instagram in celebration of Nick’s 43rd birthday in 2023. “🎂🥳🥳🎉 I was only 10 when you were born and came into our lives. God bless you on this special day that He chose for you.”

She frequently shares sweet tributes to her nephew, recently posting a photo of the pair spending Christmas together in 2023. “When your nephew @nickcannon really is St. Nick,” she joked, posting a photo of the entertainer in a Santa Claus costume.

James is a father of five

<p>Javen "King" Cannon/Instagram</p> Nick Cannon with his brothers: Caleb, Gabriel, Reuben and Javen.

Javen "King" Cannon/Instagram

Nick Cannon with his brothers: Caleb, Gabriel, Reuben and Javen.

After welcoming Nick, James and Beth went their separate ways. In the following years, James went on to have four more sons with another woman: Caleb, Gabriel, Reuben and Javen.

Nick is on good terms with his younger siblings. In the summer of 2023, his brother Gabriel won season 2 of ABC’s celebrity-relative reality show, Claim to Fame. Meanwhile, Javen has worked with Nick on several projects, including as a consultant on Wild ‘N Out and Future Superstars.

Speaking to The Sun, James explained that he’s maintained positive relationships with both Beth and the mother of his other four boys. “These two women, I had no messy issues with them,” he told the outlet.

Nick credits his dad with keeping him “out of trouble”

<p>Broadimage/Shutterstock</p> Nick Cannon and his father James Cannon at the BET Awards on June 30, 2013.

Broadimage/Shutterstock

Nick Cannon and his father James Cannon at the BET Awards on June 30, 2013.

Growing up, Nick’s dad helped turn his focus toward journalism to keep him away from the gangs that were prevalent in his hometown, he revealed during an interview with DJ Vlad in 2018.

“My dad, the way he felt like he kept me out of trouble was through the media. Whether through public access television, which he had his ministry show on or through writing," Nick said.

The Drumline actor continued, "Or ... going out and doing community journalism, like reporting on things that are happening in the community with the police — he had me doing this type of stuff before I was a teenager."

These days, his dad continues to reach other youth through his work in the publication division of Nick’s eponymous foundation.

“Through my foundation, he’s been keeping that work going and has been doing things with podcasts, as well as radio shows and specifically this book division,” Nick said, explaining that the division is dedicated to incorporating a more diverse community of voices into the publishing world.

“They really have something to say,” he said, adding, “I’m giving the opportunity to the community to share their narrative.”

James overcame challenges after becoming a father

During a 2018 appearance on VladTV, Nick shared that his father was involved with a gang during the 1980s.

“The stuff that I grew up around and grew up in, I try not to glorify it. But it is what it is — my dad is, what we’d consider in our neighborhood, a real O.G.," he said.

The American Son star continued, "The things he had to overcome and the obstacles — now he’s a man of the cloth and a man of the community, but he was one of them guys.”

James turned his life around while he was still a teenager, Nick explained. “He got locked up, and then during that process, gave his life to the Lord.”

Nick referred to it as a “miraculous story,” expressing how proud his dad’s entire family and community were of him for overcoming his challenges and going off to college. Nick also revealed that he was in the audience when his dad graduated high school.

They're supportive of Nick and his accomplishments

<p>Gregg DeGuire/WireImage</p> Nick Cannon and his mom Beth Gardner arrive at the TeenNick HALO Awards on November 17, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.

Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

Nick Cannon and his mom Beth Gardner arrive at the TeenNick HALO Awards on November 17, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.

James and Beth have joined their son for private and public milestones over the years, from movie premieres to birthday parties and more.

"She came back in the picture and together we built a friendship, we now go to premieres and movie stuff all the time," James told The Sun.

The two also showed up to celebrate Nick's 30th birthday party in 2010, posing together for his bash at Universal Studios Hollywood.

In separate instances, Beth has accompanied him to several events: she was his date to the TeenNick HALO Awards for a couple of years in a row. She also showed her support for his acting career at the premieres of his films, including Chi-Raq, Love Don't’ Cost a Thing and more.

They have several grandchildren

<p>Nick Cannon/Instagram</p> Nick Cannon with his mom Beth Gardner and his kids, Moroccan and Monroe.

Nick Cannon/Instagram

Nick Cannon with his mom Beth Gardner and his kids, Moroccan and Monroe.

James and Beth may only share one child together, but they’re proud grandparents to Nick's 12 little ones.

Nick has welcomed 12 children since 2011: twins Monroe and Moroccan, as well as Golden, Powerful, twins Zion and Zillion, Zen, Legendary, Onyx, Rise, Beautiful and Halo. James’ other sons have also welcomed kids, making him a grandfather of 20 in total.

"I believe children are blessings,” James told The Sun, adding that he fully supports Nick’s unconventional approach to building his family.

He revealed that he’s met Golden and Powerful, two of Nick’s children with model Brittany Bell, and said he had “a great relationship with all of [his grandchildren].”

He’s also spent time with Monroe and Moroccan, Nick’s twins whom he shares with ex-wife Mariah Carey.

The entire family got together to celebrate Easter in 2018, with Nick decked out in an Easter Bunny outfit while James and Beth posed alongside Monroe and Moroccan.

Apart from holidays, Beth has accompanied Nick and the “We Belong Together” singer for several outings, from birthday parties to family dinners.

In 2023, Beth joined Nick and the twins to mark his 43rd birthday party with cupcakes and sweet selfies.

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