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Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith could tell that there was something wrong with their son, Jaden. The actor appeared gaunt, gray and tired, in fact, and this naturally worried the celebrity couple. So, the famous parents sat Jaden down for an intervention with one question in mind: why did their eldest child look so unhealthy? As it turned out, though, the star had a surprising explanation for why he didn’t seem his normal self.

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What’s more, Jaden apparently felt just as unwell as he looked. The energetic musician and movie star was gone, replaced by a boy who couldn’t sleep and wasn’t doing well. Will and Jada shared a hunch, too, that their son’s eating habits may have been the root of the problem. At the time of the intervention, you see, Jaden was following a vegan diet.

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In particular, Jada worried that her son wasn’t getting enough protein. The actress feared, then, that Jaden was “wasting away,” as she put it on a September 2019 episode of her Facebook show Red Table Talk. Fortunately, though, she and Will – not to mention the young star’s fans – had noticed his problem. And, ultimately, the family brought in a doctor to advise Jaden on how best to restore his health.

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Jaden should be pretty used to being scrutinized by now, though, as he was born into a life in the spotlight. Indeed, at the time of his arrival in 1998, his father, Will, had already established himself as one of Hollywood’s hottest actors. Famously, Will had starred in the beloved TV series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air before going on to appear in popular films such as Independence Day and Men in Black.

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Hollywood has been kind to Jaden’s mom, as well. Throughout the course of her career, Jada has nabbed roles in such hits as The Nutty Professor, The Matrix and 2017’s Girls Trip. And yet despite the attention afforded to her and Will, the couple had hoped to raise their son in as normal a manner as possible.

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To Will and Jada, this meant that Jaden, his younger sister, Willow, and Trey – Will’s son from another relationship – would give back to the community. As kids, then, the trio offered their time to nursing institutions and orphanages. The children also often donated items to those in need, which Jada credited to an awareness that they had an exceptional lifestyle.

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Furthermore, for Jaden, that extraordinary existence extended beyond a comfortable upbringing with two movie star parents. After all, he also broke into Hollywood at a young age. It all started when a then-six-year-old Jaden joined the cast of the TV show All of Us. His parents had created the show, which had been inspired by their own circumstances.

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And Jaden’s on-screen work with his folks only continued from there, as three years later, he starred alongside Will in 2006 movie The Pursuit of Happyness. Throughout the drama, the Smith family patriarch portrays Christopher Gardner – a down-on-his-luck salesperson who works tirelessly to make it as a successful stockbroker. Jaden, meanwhile, fittingly plays Gardner’s son in the movie.

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Jaden earned acclaim for his role, too, in the form of an MTV Movie Award. And from there, the young star continued to go from strength to strength. In fact, he would soon branch out to films in which he would perform without one of his parents in tow.

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And during the next stretch of his career, Jaden found great success. In 2010, for instance, he won a Saturn Award for Best Performance by a Younger Actor for the sci-fi flick The Day the Earth Stood Still. That same year, he also starred in the reboot of The Karate Kid, which shot to number one in the U.S. box-office chart upon its release in 2010.

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Then Jaden and Will found another project on which they could collaborate. This time, they would co-star in After Earth, with Jaden playing a hero trying to keep himself and his dad safe. Unfortunately, though, the 2013 sci-fi received an icy reception from both critics and audiences. Jaden even earned a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor.

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Understandably, that experience left Jaden disillusioned with life on screen. In fact, he went on an acting hiatus in the wake of After Earth’s underperformance. Nevertheless, the press junket on which Jaden had embarked to support the film had given the public an idea of his upbringing. Yes, when talking to the media, both he and Will shared details about life in the Smith household – and some of what the father and son revealed gave fans pause.

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When Will and Jaden were interviewed by Metro in 2013, for instance, the elder Smith spoke about his and Jada’s disciplinary style as parents – or lack thereof. Yes, when the interviewer asked the actor about the last time Jaden had received a punishment, Will simply replied, “We don’t do punishment.”

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Instead, Will and Jada chose to give their children more responsibility and choice in the ways they lived their lives. The father of three explained, “Our concept is: as young as possible, give them as much control over their lives as possible. And the concept of punishment, our experience has been – it has a little too much of a negative quality.”

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In the same interview, Jaden said that his ability to make his own decisions “works pretty well.” The then-14-year-old explained, “Other teenagers go to parties, and sometimes I be like, ‘Why am I here right now?’ And most of the time, I just leave right then and there. Some things I don’t like to do that other teenagers do.”

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And yet, within a year, Jaden would want even more space than his parents had already given him. On a 2018 episode of Red Table Talk, Jada revealed that her son had asked for emancipation from her and Will at just 15 years of age. But although she also described that request as “one of the most heartbreaking moments of [her] life,” the Smith family matriarch ultimately acquiesced.

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Jada explained, “Every child needs something different. Being in this lifestyle, in this world is a bubble, and he wanted out. I understood that because I didn’t have the bubble. I knew what having my freedom outside the bubble – what I gained from that. I knew the sooner I let him go, the faster he was going to come back.”

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Just as Jada suspected, Jaden did actually change his mind about filing for emancipation from his parents. Even so, he remained out of the spotlight until 2016, when he returned to television in the series The Get Down. The Netflix show, which ran for two seasons, told the story of disco and hip-hop’s growth in ’70s New York.

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On top of that, Jaden has made strides toward a music career. He used his middle name of Syre to title his 2017 studio album as well as a 2018 EP that he dropped via Instagram. In the summer of 2019, meanwhile, he came out with a second LP called Erys – which, neatly, is “Syre” spelled backwards.

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Clearly, then, Jaden has come to walk a path all on his own – just as Will and Jada had hoped. And yet for years, the couple faced plenty of backlash for their parenting style. For instance, online commenters ripped the Smiths’ decision to let Jaden wear a skirt in a 2016 Louis Vuitton ad.

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Perhaps, then, the Smiths may have just been a bit too progressive for some. In a 2019 piece for Oprah magazine, writer Michelle Darrisaw explored this possibility when considering the criticisms of Will and Jada as parents. That article even quoted an expert who suggested that the couple’s approach to raising Willow and Jaden would be much more acceptable today.

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Lexi Montgomery – a brand strategist who has experience of both marketing and neuropsychology – explained to the publication, “The Smiths were ahead of their time. Willow shaved her head, and Jaden wore a dress before people were openly supporting self-expression to the degree we see in the media today. Their past actions have become trend-worthy and admirable due to the cultural climate changing and becoming more accepting. In other words: what used to be weird is now considered cool.”

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Plus, this forward-thinking approach seems to have set Jaden on his own path – one that has come to include everything from acting to music-making and trying different diets on for size. In fact, Jada and Will’s eldest child even began practicing veganism. But while this decision sent some fans into a tailspin, they actually piped up to voice concerns rather than to criticize.

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On a December 2019 episode of Red Table Talk, Jaden explained, “I walk in the street, and people are like, ‘Oh my god! Are you sick? Can I pick you up? Could I get you some water?’ Come up to me like, ‘You can have my food, man.’” And as it turned out, the Karate Kid star’s fans weren’t the only ones to hear alarm bells ringing; Will and Jada worried about him, too.

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In fact, the couple had expressed their fears about Jaden’s vegan diet on a September episode of Red Table Talk. There, Will and Jada admitted to feeling “really nervous” about their musician son, and that anxiety had in turn led the two to stage an intervention. Jada explained, “We realized [Jaden] wasn’t getting enough protein.”

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Like Jaden’s fans, Will and Jada had noted that their son didn’t look as healthy as he usually did. His mom described, “He was wasting away. He just looked drained. He was just depleted, [and] he wasn’t getting the nutrients.” His skin had also seemed to take on a grayish hue, and he had dark circles under his eyes.

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When confronted by his parents, though, Jaden told Will and Jada that he hadn’t just stopped eating meat. In fact, he had cut way back on food in general. He explained, “I was just eating, like, two meals a day… maybe one. Maybe just one big meal, and I’m like, ‘Oh, you know, I didn’t get around to it.’”

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And as it turned out, Jaden wasn’t the only Smith with an unhealthy eating pattern. Patriarch Will called an emergency meeting for the entire family – including his oldest son, Trey, and mother-in-law Adrienne Banfield-Jones. During that gathering, moreover, Jada conceded that she too ate infrequently – just as Jaden said he did.

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At the same time, Will shared the details of his own problem – and it was quite the opposite of the issue impacting his son and wife. The Fresh Prince star claimed, you see, that he found himself over-eating when he was bored. And it turned out that the habit had become particularly bad after he’d gone on a recent vacation. Will even claimed that he feasted “like an addict” sometimes.

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So, a December 2019 episode of Red Table Talk had the Smiths dealing with these and other issues head-on. And for this health-centric installment of the show, the clan brought in both Dr. Mark Hyman and nutritionist Mona Sharma. The A-listers hoped that the medical professionals could help assuage their lingering problems – including their diet-related ones.

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To begin with, though, Jaden was hesitant to have any medical test results presented in front of a camera. This is referenced at the start of the Red Table Talk episode, when Will asks Jaden why he doesn’t want to participate in the process. In response, his son mentions the episode of the show in which he revealed his veganism, alluding to the unwanted press that his announcement had created.

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In the end, however, Jaden took part in both the health check-up and the on-screen results reveal. Yes, he and the rest of the Smith family underwent what Jada called “extensive medical testing.” Dr. Hyman and Sharma had the clan collect and send saliva and stool samples, while their blood was also subject to analysis.

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In Jaden’s case, he had dealt with severe stomach issues that he thought may have been related to his veganism. The medical tests ultimately revealed, though, that the After Earth star had vitamin and omega-3 deficiencies. Gluten and dairy sensitivities had apparently further exacerbated his digestive problems.

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Yet according to Dr. Hyman, Jaden didn’t necessarily have to loosen his dietary guidelines; instead, he could simply increase his vitamin intake. The medical professional explained to the musician, “When you fix your stomach, your diet expands [and] you take a few supplements, everything’s back to normal. You’re gonna rock the world.”

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Nevertheless, Jaden had previously said that he had changed his diet to become a vegetarian instead. On the September episode of Red Table Talk, he had revealed, “I’ve tried to eat vegan meals. I’ll go vegan for a week or so, but for the past year I’ve been vegetarian.”

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Furthermore, while Jaden has yet to speak further about his health on Red Table Talk, website Amo Mama has reported that he has increased energy levels after improving his diet. And Jada is still definitely close to her son. She shared a snap of the pair in January 2020 and described the time it was captured as a “proud mommy moment.”

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Jaden hasn’t completely severed his ties to veganism, either. In the summer of 2019, for instance, he announced that he’d started his own food business called I Love You. According to its Instagram page, I Love You is “a pop-up food truck making vegan food accessible for low-income communities.” The truck has continued to serve patrons into 2020.

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And that’s just one of several ways in which the Smith family has helped promote good health. Will carried on this work, too, when in December 2019 he shared a video of a colonoscopy procedure he had undergone. During this check-up, moreover, doctors pinpointed a polyp that could ultimately have progressed into colon cancer.

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In the clip, Smith also says, “There’s a certain amount of commitment and embarrassment involved with being healthy. Just gotta do it, man. It’s important to me to be able to share this with people, so, you know, other people can become compliant patients to stay healthy and happy to have all the glorious years we can possibly have.”

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And there’s undoubtedly more good advice to come from the Smiths, as Facebook has extended the contract for Red Table Talk until at least 2022. Perhaps, then, future episodes will cover more of Jaden’s journey to good health.

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