Television shows on teen parenthood were usually intended as a cautionary tale on the reality of what one would be facing as a consequence of unplanned pregnancy at a young age. Briana DeJesus’ journey to motherhood was featured on “16 and Pregnant,” and her life thereafter with all the pressures of becoming an adult was chronicled in “Teen Mom 2” and “Teen Mom 3”. Among the cast members, Briana was much talked about due to all the drama and controversies surrounding her. She had health scares following her collapse at the 2022 reunion special, on top of her lupus diagnosis in 2021.
A little background on Briana’s roots
Briana DeJesus was born on 21 May 1994. Her father was in and out of her life, but she lost contact with him around the time when her mother Roxanne moved her and her sister Brittany from Brooklyn, New York City to Orlando, Florida; Briana was 10 at that time. Even as a grown-up, she longed for her father, and posted on her Twitter account on 31 December 2017: ‘Hopefully in 2018 I can rekindle my relationship with my father… I miss him. [And] would love for the girls to meet him.’
In season one of VH1’s “Family Therapy” with Dr. Jenn Mann, aired in 2016, Roxanne revealed that Briana and Brittany had different biological fathers, and Briana’s father raised Brittany as his own since she was a year old. Brittany was shocked, even more so when she learned that her biological father passed away when she was three.
Not many knew that her mom and her grandmother Marta were among those featured in the 1984 documentary called “Los Sures.” Back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, Los Sures was one of the poorest neighborhoods in New York City, and at one point had been called the worst ghetto in America. Filmmaker Diego Echeverria captured the personal experiences of some of its Dominican and Puerto Rican residents, as they lived in a society riddled with crime, gang violence, drugs, and racial tension. Marta said that if one could survive Los Sures, one could survive anything. The film had been restored in time for its 30th-anniversary screening in 2014 at the New York Film Festival.
Life was tough for Marta, as she raised her son and four daughters relying on welfare and surviving on food stamps. She was married to the father of her first three kids, whom she said was very abusive. Roxanne’s dad was ‘very loving’, but they had to break up due to drug problems. Marta never actually lived with the father of her youngest child, but they were in a relationship for six years. In a follow-up interactive documentary in 2014 called “89 Steps”, Marta decided to sell her place after living there for almost 40 years. She knew that the 89 steps it took to get from her apartment on the sixth floor to the ground floor would only become more difficult as she became older; she was 65 when it was filmed.
The relationship between Marta and Roxanne or Briana was not explored in the reality TV series, so some doubted its authenticity, but others who viewed the interactive site saw photos of the family in Marta’s apartment. On her Instagram account, Briana posted a photo of her with Marta’s other grandchildren, as well as Marta with Briana’s children.
“16 and Pregnant”
Briana was introduced in the fourth season of MTV’s “16 and Pregnant”, which aired in April 2012. Each episode of the reality TV series followed the pregnancy of a teenage girl at the time she gave birth until the baby was a few months old.
Telling her mother that she was pregnant wasn’t easy, so Briana did it by way of a letter. Her mom felt a little nauseous after reading it, as Briana was only 16 at that time, and her other daughter Brittany was also pregnant; she believed she was a failure as a mother.
Brittany had her baby aborted as the father wasn’t supportive. On the other hand, Briana kept her baby, even though it was a month since she and the baby’s father, Devoin Austin II, had broken up. With a baby on the way, she wanted to work things out with Devoin; however, it seemed that she and their baby were the lowest on his priorities; he didn’t have time for them, and he also didn’t Briana pressuring him to get a job.
Devoin was there when Briana gave birth to their baby girl, Nova Star, on 9 September 2011, but left the hospital right after that to play basketball with his friends. He was angry when he learned that his daughter didn’t have his last name on the birth certificate. When Briana brought the baby home, Devoin came to visit, but spent more time on his phone rather than with his daughter. When Brittany and Roxanne called him out for his lack of attention, and tried talking to him about what being a dad entailed, he left.
Briana was surprised to receive a text from Devoin, who wanted to talk to her without her mother present, so they agreed to meet at a restaurant. Unfortunately, he stood her up and she had to call her mom to pick her and Nova up. She later confided in her sister that if she could go back in time, she would have had an abortion. However, she made it clear that she loved Nova, and didn’t regret having her, but wished she could trade places with Brittany. Being a mom meant she had to be responsible for her baby, and think of their future. She also had no time to go out with her friends and have fun like she used to, because she had to take care of Nova. Her mom was supportive of her, and agreed to help her financially until she finished school. She matriculated from high school, and checked out the local college to see what her options were.
“Teen Mom 3”
The reality TV series, “16 and Pregnant” was a success, despite the very controversial topic, as some believed that they were glamorizing teen pregnancy. However, its executive producer was quick to defend the show, as he said that there was nothing glamorous about any of the situations that each teen might be facing, which could include raising the kid alone, custody battles, or finding work.
— Teen Mom 3 (@OfficialTM3) July 9, 2013
TV executives wanted more episodes after season one was well received by viewers, but casting pregnant teens posed a problem for the producers. To buy them time, someone pitched the idea of a show that would continue the stories of four young moms featured in the series, and so “Teen Mom” was born. It premiered on 8 December 2009, and MTV had another hit in its hands.
Briana along with three other girls from season four of “16 and Pregnant” was cast in another spin-off series, “Teen Mom 3,” which started airing on 26 August 2013. During the reunion special, she and Devoin got into a heated argument that caused Brittany and mom Roxanne to rush on stage; security had been called in to prevent things from escalating. Roxanne took off her high-heeled shoe and was poised to use it as a weapon to protect her daughters. Fortunately, nothing untoward happened.
It appeared that Devoin wanted to be part of his daughter’s life, but claimed that he wasn’t given a chance, and that Briana’s family was always ganging up on him. She said that he wasn’t a constant presence in Nova’s life, and her daughter needed a father who was responsible. Devoin had been in and out of jail, charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, burglary, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and parole violation. However, Briana’s relationship with Devoin improved over the years as he tried to be a good father and regularly saw his daughter.
“Teen Mom 2”
“Teen Mom 3” was canceled after season one, with the last episode aired in November 2013. Briana lived a normal life out of the spotlight, until she was cast for the eighth season of the reality TV series “Teen Mom 2,” which started airing in 2017. MTV did plan on stopping the show once the cast reached their 20’s, as they weren’t teen moms anymore, but since they developed a rabid following, filming continued.
Briana had baby no.2
She had another unplanned pregnancy, with Luis Hernandez the father. Things weren’t well between them, but she decided against an abortion because he had been supportive, and said that they would just figure things out. Her daughter Stella Star was born on 2 July 2017, and had immediate health issues as her heart had three holes. The doctor said that one could live with it and be fine, but had to be monitored. After a year, she was relieved to learn that the holes had closed.
Briana discovered that Luis had been seeing someone else behind her back, and when she had the chance to talk to the girl, she was told that Luis said he was only with Briana because he wanted to be there for the baby. She broke up from him as she didn’t want them to feel obligated to stay together because of their daughter. She then considered putting Stella up for adoption, so her baby would have parents who could give her everything, but later on, they both agreed to keep her. Unfortunately, Luis had not been doing his part. No matter how many times he apologized and made promises to be a better father, he still wasn’t there for his daughter.
Feud with Kailyn Lowry
Briana’s life had become more complicated, as she hooked up with Javi Marroquin, the father of co-star Kailyn Lowry’s baby. This caused friction between the teen moms, who were once friends before Briana joined the show. Javi and Kailyn filed for divorce in 2015, but the latter felt that Briana broke the girl code to which Briana said, ‘Kail was never my friend. I was always closer to Javi. I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to share my story and keep it moving.’ Briana and Javi’s relationship didn’t last, as she wasn’t yet ready for the kind of commitment that he was asking from her, but he didn’t want to wait until she was.
The girls continued to fight via social media, so perhaps it was inevitable that it would lead to a physical altercation, when they saw each other during the filming of the reunion special in 2018. They had a shouting match, and then Brittany pulled Kailyn’s hair from behind. Security rushed in to intervene before Brianna and Kailyn could get close enough to harm each other.
In 2021, Kailyn filed a lawsuit against Briana for defamation, as the latter posted on social media that Kailyn broke into Chris Lopez’s house and beat him up for getting their son a haircut without her permission. The case was dismissed as Briana’s statements were found to be true, and the judge said that ‘the damage to Lowry’s reputation, if any, had already occurred when [Kailyn’s arrest] was publicized by news media.’
Breaking off her engagement to Javi Gonzalez
Many thought that Briana finally found the man she was going to spend the rest of her life with, when she announced her engagement to the tattoo artist, Javi Gonzalez in May 2021. They met through a mutual friend in September 2020 and quickly fell for each other. However, just a month after she accepted his marriage proposal, fans started speculating that the two were no longer together, after they unfollowed each other on Instagram. Briana confirmed the split in August, as things didn’t work out between them. Some weren’t surprised by this development, as they recalled Briana’s interview about Javi in which she said that he’s not comfortable with cameras around, and didn’t understand ‘the whole TV life.’ She also struggled with what she called living a triple life – TV, mom, and girlfriend. For his part, when he was asked what went wrong between them, Javi said, ‘Different frequencies, different principles…No hard feelings just not for me.’
Through all of Briana’s failed relationships, her mom and sister were there to support her, and they helped her out in taking care of her kids. However, some were wondering if they were partly the reason why it was hard for Briana to resolve issues with the men in her life. Her mom and sister would fight alongside her whenever she and her baby daddies were having an argument; sometimes it was even Briana who had to calm them down.
Not a true depiction of a teen mom
A lot has happened since Briana started appearing in reality TV shows, and it was evident how far she has come as she became famous and thousands of dollars richer. Some said it wasn’t a true depiction of how teen moms fared over the years since not everyone was given the chance to earn big bucks like Briana. Reportedly, she was paid about $5,000 for her stint in “16 and Pregnant,” and the paycheck for “Teen Moms 2” was significantly higher at $100,000 to $200,000 a year; it increases with succeeding seasons. The good thing about it was that she was able to provide well for her children. In 2019, she bought a four-bedroom house for nearly $270,000, and lived there not just with her kids but also with her mom and sister. ‘I’ll always take care of my family. I got a forever home that we can always go back to,’ she said.
Health update on Briana
In September 2021, she revealed to the public via her Twitter account that her antinuclear antibody (ANA) test came back positive, and she was diagnosed with lupus, which is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and pain, affecting the body’s systems. It has no cure, and would require treatment to manage the symptoms and reduce other health problems caused by the disease. Briana has since been taking medicine for it. She had been updating her fans regarding her condition and said that she was having difficulty driving, or even just brushing her hair because her hands and fingers were painful. Briana talked about wanting to seek a second opinion regarding the treatment for her condition, and perhaps look into a more holistic approach.
Her mother also suffered from lupus, and in 2017, Briana shared how hard it was to see her mom struggle with it. She worked with the Lupus Foundation of America, an organization that aimed to help people with lupus by helping improve their quality of life through research programs, along with Posh Kids to launch a fashion show for their benefit.
At the “Teen Mom: Family Reunion” in February 2022, Briana fell down after going through the obstacle course for the second time, and complained of difficulty breathing. As she was being taken to the hospital in a car, she passed out, so they had to stop and call 911. She woke up in the emergency room fearing the worst, as she saw all the doctors and nurses attending to her, later revealing that she really thought she was dying. Fortunately, it was nothing serious, as the doctor told her she overexerted herself and was dehydrated. She was discharged but advised to take things easy; she resumed filming after that.