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New Edition dropped their fifth album, Heart Break, in 1988. Over 30 years later, Ricky Bell, a founding member of the group, described a situation that he says broke his heart. But it appears the experience didn’t break his spirit because the singer is busy making moves to turn things around. Here’s the scoop.

Ricky Bell of New Edition and Bell Biv DeVoe
Ricky Bell of New Edition and Bell Biv DeVoe | Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic

New Edition singer Ricky Bell is vocal about his recovery

The New Edition Story is BET’s three-part biopic that follows the musical journey of the supergroup. The six New Edition members — Ronnie DeVoe, Bobby Brown, Michael Bivins, Ralph Tresvant, Johnny Gill, and Bell — served as producers on the project to ensure authenticity within the plot.

One narrative thread in The New Edition Story was Bell’s experience with drug use, which led to at least one medical emergency, as depicted on screen. Bell has since entered recovery and has used social media as a platform to educate and inspire others. The star has been remarkably transparent with his fans and the media about his journey.

Bell witnessed a tragic situation at a rehabilitation center

Bell appeared on the ESSENCE Entrepreneur Summit alongside New Edition bandmates Bivins and DeVoe, with whom he formed his other multi-platinum-selling group, Bell Biv DeVoe. While there, the entertainer opened up about addiction, recovery houses, and sober living homes. He explained that sometimes people who seek treatment aren’t afforded the opportunity to receive it.

“When I came into recovery programs 16 years ago, in my experience, what I’ve noticed is that there’s a business side to it as well,” remarked Bell. “I’ve seen situations where the business has taken precedence over the recovery — over goodwill.”

According to Bell, he once drove a man seeking help to a rehabilitation center. Unfortunately, Bell says the facility turned the individual away due to lack of funds. “It broke my heart,” Bell confessed, “and I never want to see that happen again.”

Bell has become a mentor to others seeking rehabilitation


New Edition and Bell Biv DeVoe Legend Ricky Bell Confessed, This Song Is His Favorite

With experience in his rearview and a calling give back, Bell has become an advocate for people who want help. The star now partners with other individuals within the same sphere of service to speak about recovery at hospitals and institutions.

Aside from speaking on panels, the entertainer spends his time mentoring individuals who are currently experiencing addiction. Bell explained, “There are people in recovery who are just not as fortunate as others but just as passionate and they want help.” 

“We help them either find ways through funding through the music business, through insurance, through private donations to get them into recovery — to get them into aftercare and recovery — so they’re not just thrust back into society,” stressed Bell. “I never want to see anyone turned away who is willingly looking for help.”

About his noble efforts, Bells says, “What motivates me now is not just the music and entertainment. It’s about really giving back.” The star beamed with optimism, adding, “We have this saying in my program and in recovery that is, ‘We keep what we have by giving it away.’ I’m excited about that.”

How to get help: In the U.S., contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-662-4357.

Follow Erika Delgado on Twitter