An internet sensation who was dubbed “Mom of The Year” for physically disciplining her child at the Baltimore riots is now homeless, thanks to her once-wayward son.
As noted by the Baltimore Sun, Toya Graham says that on Saturday, she received an urgent call on FaceTime from her daughter, Teiyona, who explained that the three-story home she shared with her five children, including her 17-year-son Michael Singleton, was partially ablaze.
“She called me, hollering that the house was on fire,” Graham stated. “When I got there, there were five fire trucks, an ambulance and police. I could see [the firemen] through the third-floor window. They were throwing stuff out the back window. It was a mess.”
Mom, caught on video smacking & pulling son from riots, says family homeless now after fire, accidentally set by son pic.twitter.com/q2r4KxwkTw— Keith Daniels Fox45 (@KeithDFox45) August 15, 2016
The incident was said to have begun when Michael, who was preparing chicken tenders on the stove, stepped away momentarily to use the bathroom. When he returned, the pan was completely surrounded by flames and smoke. Out of instinct, Michael tossed water onto the fire to douse it, but it only made the situation worse due to it being a grease fire.
“It [just burst] out in more flames,” he acknowledged.
Singleton then quickly ran out of the home to call for help at a neighbor’s place. Luckily, no one was injured in the fire, but understandably, Michael felt horrible about the matter.
“I told [my mother] that I was sorry for what happened,” he relayed. “She was just, like, scared for me. She was making sure that I was okay. She wanted to know what was going on.”
“I saw him sitting on the steps [when I got home],” Toya added, “[and] he looked like he felt bad. I [just kept asking] him, ‘What happened? What happened? What happened?'”
As of now, thanks to the assistance of the American Red Cross, Graham, her children, and her grandchild are staying at a nearby hotel. Sadly, this is not the first dark event that has befallen their family since their notable moment in the spotlight.
After making the television rounds in 2015 for essentially smacking her son away from a violent rally to protest the death of Freddie Gray, Graham gained and lost a relationship with a business manager, got dismissed from one of her two jobs, and lost several other opportunities to bank on her “Mom of The Year” status. She also has no renter’s insurance for the home that was damaged by the fire and says that the landlord is angry with her for destroying his property.
“I’ve had [no] communication with [the landlord] since the fire. He was very upset,” she explained. “He built that kitchen from the ground up. He spent a lot of money on the kitchen. There were new appliances and everything. Now it’s all gone.”
It hasn’t all been bad, however. Since that fateful April afternoon, Michael, whom she once feared might end up in jail or worse for his antics, was accepted to Job Corps and has changed his life around. Although she was fired from one of her jobs, she still has another as a caregiver in an assisted living residence.
And also, just as before, she is receiving support from the public once more. A GoFundMe page was set up over the weekend to help Graham and her family in their time of need. Initially started with a $5,000 goal, it was well on its way hitting twice that amount early Wednesday morning.
Despite all that has befallen Graham and her loved ones, Michael still chooses to hold tight to the belief that somehow, things will turn out alright for him and his family, just as it always has before.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said, “[but] we have been praying a lot that we will have a home and that everything will be fixed.”
[Photo via Bradenton Herald/Twitter]