Nick Cannon Opens Up About Son’s Tragic Death After Returning to Work

by Jennifer Shea
Christopher Polk/Getty Images for The Critics' Choice Awards

Actor Nick Cannon has had to keep moving through heartbreak. And on a recent episode of his talk show, he opened up about how he’s been doing in the wake of his young son’s tragic death.

Cannon’s son Zen, who was five months old, died of brain cancer this month. He had a malignant brain tumor. Doctors had done surgery to put in a shunt that would drain the fluid from his brain, according to Page Six. But Zen’s health took a dive around Thanksgiving, forcing Cannon to fly out to Los Angeles to be with the infant and his mother, Alyssa Scott.

“I made a valid effort to spend the most quality time I could spend with Zen. We woke up on Sunday… and [went] to the ocean… And then I had to fly back to New York for the show,” Cannon later told viewers of his talk show. “By the time I got in the car and was headed to the airport, I had to turn around.”

Nick Cannon Shares How He’s Still Standing

On Wednesday’s show, Cannon basked in the applause from his studio audience and then opened up about what he’s been going through lately. He said he needs to be at work, performing for an audience, to get through the tragedy, according to ET Online.

“Thank you. I need it. I need it,” Cannon said to applause. “Even in our lowest moments, it’s the other people around you, it’s your family that builds you up. So thank you.”

Then he added, “People keep asking me how I am doing. I say, ‘I’m vertical.’ I’m standing. That is a good start.” Cannon said he’s taking life “five minutes at a time,” which is all he can manage right now.

Some may wonder why he’s back at work in the wake of his youngest child’s death. But for Cannon, work is his catharsis, and he needs the support of his audience as well as his family.

“To me, this isn’t work,” he explained on the show. “This is love. And I love you back. This is therapy for me. This is therapeutic.”

Cannon Finds Peace Through Music

To cope, Cannon has been listening to a lot of gospel music. In particular, he’s been playing the song “I Stood on the Banks of Jordan.” He said it hints at “how people come and go,” and how grieving ebbs and flows like water.

“You get all of the pain, you get all of the joy, and all of the reverence, and you just know there is a greater, higher power that operating all of this,” Cannon said of the song. “If there is any religion, music should be a religion because it just brings the whole world together. And there’s something about gospel music.”

In the wake of his son’s death, Cannon has been left with a gnawing sense of guilt. And he acknowledged that he’s “not fine.” But to stand before an audience again made him feel a little bit better, he added.

Cannon will keep doing his talk show through the end of next week. After that, he’ll be off from Dec. 20 through the start of the new year.