Jeffrey Lee: How Did Oprah Winfrey’s Brother Die?

Jeffrey Lee

Jeffrey Lee is the brother of popular and influential talk show host, television producer, actress, author, and media proprietor Oprah Winfrey. Jeffrey’s sister Oprah is best known as the host of her talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show. The show is the highest-rated daytime talk show in American television history. She has been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and has received various accolades throughout her career.

Jeffrey Lee: Bio Summary

NameJeffrey Lee
Famous as brother of Oprah Winfrey
Date of birth 14 December 1960
Place of birth Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, USA
Died 22 December 1989 (aged 29)
Nationality American
Siblings Patricia Lee Lloyd, Patricia Lofton, and Oprah Winfrey
ParentVernita Lee
Grandparents Hattie Mae Lee and Earlest Lee

Who Was Oprah Winfrey’s Brother, Jeffrey Lee?

Jeffrey Lee was welcomed into the world on the 14th of December 1960, in Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, USA. Jeffrey is the son of Vernita Lee (1935–2018), who worked as a housemaid. The name and details of his biological father are unknown. Jeffrey is the brother of Orpah Gail Winfrey (Oprah Winfrey), Patricia Lee Lloyd, and Patricia Lofton.

Jeffrey Lee’s mother Vernita Lee gave birth to Jeffrey’s older half-sister Oprah Winfrey on January 29, 1954, in Kosciusko, Mississippi, U.S. Jeffrey and Oprah have the same mother but different fathers. Oprah’s father was Vernon Winfrey (1933–2022), who was a coal miner turned barber turned city councilman who was in the Armed Forces when Oprah was born.

Details of Jeffrey’s sister Patricia Lee Lloyd’s father are unknown so it is not known if Jeffrey and Patricia Lee are biological siblings or not. Unfortunately, Patricia Lee who was born on 3 June 1959 died of causes related to cocaine addiction on 19 February 2003, at the age of 43 years. Jeffrey’s other sister Patricia Lofton was put up for adoption.

It is also uncertain if Jeffrey Lee and Patricia Lofton are biological siblings or half-siblings. Jeffrey’s maternal grandparents were Hattie Mae (Presley) Lee (April 15, 1900 – February 27, 1963) and Earlest Lee (16 June 1883 – 29 December 1959). Details of Jeffrey’s life as a child and educational background and qualifications are not available.

The kind of work Jeffrey Lee did for a living is unknown. He certainly made money on his own. Jeffrey lived his life away from the spotlight.

ALSO, READ: Vernita Lee: What Happened To Oprah Winfrey’s Mother?

What Happened To The Brother Of Oprah Winfrey?

Jeffrey Lee was reportedly estranged from his sister Oprah Winfrey. According to Sun-sentinel, in March of 1989, it became public that Jeffrey “was gay, had AIDS, and felt abandoned by his rich half-sister.” Per reports, he openly accused Oprah Winfrey of not supporting him financially because she didn’t approve of his gay lifestyle.

Jeffrey Lee’s condition got worse as Christmas approached. Jeffrey’s sister Oprah Winfrey never approved of Jeffrey’s wild lifestyle of free and easy drugs and sex. Oprah Winfrey is said to have tried several times to help her brother Jeffrey with money but Jeffrey ripped her off and lied to her. However, Oprah forgave Jeffrey and they reconciled before Jeffrey died.

How Did Oprah Winfrey’s Brother Die?

Oprah Winfrey’s brother Jeffrey Lee died of AIDS (Acquired ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome), on 22 December 1989, in Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, USA. He was 29 years old at the time he passed away. His mother Vernita Lee and his life partner were by his bedside. He was cremated according to Findagrave.

As mentioned earlier, Jeffrey Lee and Oprah Winfrey had a difficult relationship, but they were able to work things out before Jeffrey died. Jeffrey said: “Now that the end is getting close, I want Oprah to know that throughout our troubles, I still loved her and was proud of her.”

After Jeffrey Lee died, Oprah Winfrey released a statement. Oprah said at the time: “For the last two years, my brother, Jeffrey Lee, had been living with AIDS.” She added: “My family, like thousands of others throughout the world, grieves not just for the death of one young man, but for the many unfulfilled dreams and accomplishments that society has been denied because of AIDS.”

Jeffrey Lee’s sister Oprah Winfrey is a television presenter, actress, television producer, media proprietor, philanthropist, and author. She has been dubbed the “Queen of All Media”. She was the richest African-American of the 20th century and was once the world’s only black billionaire.

ALSO, READ: Patricia Lee Lloyd: What Happened To Oprah Winfrey’s Sister?

Oprah Winfrey has been ranked as the most influential woman in the world several times. She has established her own network, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). She has won 18 Daytime Emmy Awards (including the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Chairman’s Award) and two Primetime Emmy Awards (including the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award).

Oprah Winfrey has also received a Tony Award, a Peabody Award, and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award awarded by the Academy Awards, in addition to two competitive Academy Award nominations. She was elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2021.

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