A momma’s boy no longer. In a new cover story with Billboard, pop sensation Justin Bieber revealed that his once-close relationship with his mom, Pattie Mallette, has cooled off over the last two years — and the “Sorry” crooner blames himself.
Bieber’s closeness to his mom was detailed in his 2011 documentary, Never Say Never, but in recent years, their connection has been “pretty nonexisting.”
“I was distant because I was ashamed,” Bieber, 21, reflected. “I never wanted my mom to be disappointed in me and I knew she was. We spent some time not talking, so it takes time to rebuild that trust. She’s living in Hawaii now, so it’s hard, but getting better. She’s an amazing woman and I love her.”
Mallette, who gave birth to Bieber when she was 17 years old and raised him on her own, is credited with nurturing her son’s massive talent since he was a toddler. While raising the then-aspiring singer in low-income housing, Mallette entered him into a talent contest — and boom, agent Scooter Braun discovered the future superstar. The Christian mom has also raised her son to tap into his spiritual side.
“When I was 7, she wouldn’t let me listen to anything but [Pastor Judah Smith]’s tapes falling asleep,” Bieber revealed. “[In the early stages of fame,] she had brought around a bunch of weird pastors — there’s a lot of weird ones — so I wasn’t too keen on meeting him,” the pop star continued. The pastor and Bieber remain close; it was revealed in a November 2014 issue of The Hollywood Reporter that Smith sends Bieber daily scripture from the Bible.
Another person who’s remained a constant in Bieber’s life since the start of his career is his longtime manager Braun. “I see people pointing, saying what a great job I did orchestrating his comeback,” the father of one told the mag. “I’ll be frank. I failed for a year and a half. He shut himself off and went into a dark place. Every single day I tried to help him turn it around, and every single day I failed. And I tried desperately. The only person who deserves credit for this is Justin.”
(Indeed, from 2013 to 2014, Bieber faced many contentious situations, including arguments with his neighbors, an awkward guest book note in the Anne Frank House, a nightclub scuffle in South Korea, and a sighting at a brothel in Rio de Janeiro. His troubles culminated in a DUI arrest in Miami in January 2014.)
Despite the absence of his mom in recent years, Bieber’s dad, Jeremy Bieber, is still present in his son’s life. Mallette and Jeremy split a few months after their son was born in 1994; the first-time father was 18 at the time.
“He was immature,” Bieber said of his dad. “He left for like a year when I was about 4, went to British Columbia, came back on Father’s Day. I remember my mom said, ‘If you’re going to be here, you have to be here.’ There’s a misconception that he’s this deadbeat dad, but he has been in my life since. I was with him on weekends and Wednesdays.”
Like his son, Jeremy has grown up significantly over the years. “My dad told me this the other day,” Bieber recalled. “He said, ‘Pride is your worst enemy. It’ll pull greatness out of you.’ I just thought that’s so great, because he’s a prideful man — he has always known what’s best — and it has taken him this long to see that.”
Still, there are some strange moments. Last month, nude photos of Justin hit the Internet, soliciting reaction from fans and Jeremy alike. “@justinbieber what do you feed that thing. #proud daddy,” Jeremy wrote at the time. Then, a mortified Bette Midler tweeted: “The biggest dick in this situation is the dad who abandoned his son.”
“This Britt Meddler,” Bieber mused to Billboard. “I don’t even know who that is, honestly. I wanted to immediately say ‘Who is this lady?’, but then I’m just fueling this negativity. I do feel the photo was an invasion of my privacy. I felt super violated. My dad made light of it, but I don’t think that’s sick and twisted. It was funny. Dads are going to be dads.”