On Monday (March 8), Lil Wayne officially began a one-year prison sentence at Riker’s Island for gun possession charges. But with the sentencing being postponed several times prior (due to Wayne’s dental work and then a courthouse fire), it was an emotional ordeal for both his ex-wife Antonia “Toya” Johnson and their 11-year-old daughter Reginae.
“It was up and down, you know. One minute we thought he was going and she’d be sad and then he don’t go,” Toya told VIBE over the phone from Atlanta. “We [were] in New York like two times and we ended up turning right back around because he didn’t go.”
On the day the New Orleans rapper was finally sentenced, Toya and Reginae spoke to him but weren’t at the courthouse to say goodbye.
“The last day he finally went in, we didn’t go, so my daughter was like, ‘I wish I would’ve went.’ It was just too much. I just didn’t want to let her see that again ’cause both times she took it real hard,” said Toya. “So I was like, I’m not gon’ let her go this last time. I’m just gon’ make sure he talk to her ’cause I didn’t know if he was really gonna go. They kept pushing back.”
Wayne and Toya were high school sweethearts who got married in 2004 and divorced two years later. In 2009, Toya and her friend, T.I.’s fiancée Tiny, debuted their BET reality series, Tiny & Toya, the second season of which premieres on April 13.
With Reginae so accustomed to Wayne being available, even despite his busy schedule, Toya said the time away will be difficult, but that the rapper reassured them before going in.
“He just told me to be strong and don’t really trip. Don’t let her see me down,” said Toya. “At first my daughter would see me a little sad and you know kids they react off of your feelings sometimes, so he was just like, ‘Be strong, make sure you take care of her. Make sure she straight and keep her phone on all the times so I can call her. The time is gonna fly by.’
“The whole point of him being in jail is just not good for her—to say her dad’s in jail,” Toya continued. “But at this point it is what it is, and we just gotta make the best of it. I’ma take her to visit him and talk to him and she’ll get through this eight months. It’ll fly by. I tell her all the time, ‘Just call daddy and tell him you love him,’ and he’ll be home soon.” —Clover Hope