How Cicely Tyson ‘Amplified’ Her Role as Lenny Kravitz’s Godmother After His Mother’s Death

Celebrities honored Cicely Tyson when the legendary actor died on Jan. 28, 2021. Many industry heavyweights, including Tyler Perry, Oprah Winfrey, and Viola Davis, paid tribute to their friend and mentor via social media. 

The day after she died, Lenny Kravitz opened up about his relationship with Tyson. In an Instagram post, he shared how she helped raise him after his mother, Roxie Roker, died in Dec. 1995. 

Cicely Tyson and Lenny Kravitz attend 'The Butler' premiere.
Cicely Tyson and Lenny Kravitz at the premiere of ‘The Butler’|Daniel Zuchnik/FilmMagic

Cicely Tyson’s book includes her relationship with Lenny Kravitz

Tyson and Kravitz were close throughout the “American Woman” singer’s entire life. During the 1970s and 1980s, the actor lived in New York, where she met other creatives. Soon, she and Roker became close friends. Roker is best known for her role as Helen Willis in The Jeffersons. On May 26, 1964, Roker and Sy Kravitz welcomed their son into the world. The couple asked Tyson to be Kravitz’s godmother, which she entirely took on.

“A Black queen who showed us how beautiful black is,” Kravitz The love between us was and is tremendous.  As long as I have had consciousness, I’ve known Godmother.” 

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The How To Get Away with Murder alum equally gushed about Kravitz in her memoir, Just As I Am. In the book, she referred to him as her “beloved godson.” She also shared anecdotes of catching him in the middle of a recording session with his ex-wife, Lisa Bonet. Shortly after she died, Tyson’s manager, Larry Thompson, said in a statement to Variety that the book gave fans a chance to learn about the 96-year-old actor’s personal life. 

“I have managed Miss Tyson’s career for over 40 years, and each year was a privilege and blessing,” Thompson said. “Cicely thought of her new memoir as a Christmas tree decorated with all the ornaments of her personal and professional life,” he continued. “Today, she placed the last ornament, a Star, on top of the tree.”

Lenny Kravitz said Cicely Tyson ‘amplified’ her role as his godmother

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Kravitz continued to write in his Instagram tribute that Tyson and Roker remained “best friends” years after his birth. He said the two actors were “kindred spirits” and frequently supported each other. When Roker died of breast cancer in Dec. 1995, Kravitz said Tyson was right by his side. He also noted that The Autobiography of Jane Pittman star “amplified” her godmother duties following Roker’s death. 

“I constantly felt her spirit over me,” Kravitz wrote on Instagram. “She always gave me unconditional support. She came to my shows, came over for holidays, met me for dinners, stayed with me in Paris when I first moved there, and never let me too far out of her sight. 

“Our phone calls went on sometimes for hours,” he continued. We spoke just a few nights ago and talked about everything.”

Did Lenny Kravitz know Cicely Tyson’s daughter, ‘Joan?’ 

Kravitz isn’t Tyson’s only famous godson. In 2014, she became the godmother of Perry’s son, Aman Perry. She wrote in her memoir that the two of them frequently played together when she visited Perry’s home. 

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As far as biological children, Tyson had one daughter with her ex-husband, Kenneth Franklin.  The Emmy winner discussed raising her daughter in Just As I Am. However, she decided to use a pseudonym, “Joan,” to describe her child. 

Although those close to Tyson, including Kravitz and Perry, knew Joan, the actor’s memoir is one of the only traces of her daughter. Tyson explained in her memoir that she wanted to protect Joan from the spotlight as her career progressed.

“Joan felt, as a child, that she had to share me with the world,” she wrote. “I give her now, in adulthood, what my heart has always longed to bestow — my undivided focus, along with the full measure of her privacy.” 

Tyson’s funeral took place in her hometown of Harlem, New York, on Feb. 2, 2021. According to Billboard, Kravitz, who has a reported net worth of $80 million, read a letter at his godmother’s memorial service.