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Celebrity Kids Gone Bad: Brad Renfro, Dead by Heroin and Methodone Overdose [1982-2008]

Brad-renfro-thumbDiscovered by a casting agent of Joel Schumacher when he was only ten and continuing for years proving himself to have great promise as an actor, Brad Renfro had his entire life in front of him.

So, what happened?

Brad Barron Renfro was born July 25, 1982 in Knoxville, Tennessee.  He was raised from the age of five byBrad-renfro-teen  his paternal grandmother, Joanne Barron Renfro, a church secretary.  Before he was discovered, Renfro's only previous acting experience had been as a dealer in an anti-drugs workshop school production.

This would later prove a cruel irony.

He began his career starring in Joel Schumacher's The Client, acting alongside Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones. Based on the bestselling John Grisham novel, it became one of the top-grossing films of 1994. In 1995, he won Hollywood Reporter's "Young Star" award, and was nominated as one of People's "Top 30 Under 30." That year, he played Huckleberry "Huck" Finn in 1995's Tom and Huck with Jonathan Taylor Thomas. He also won a second "Young Star" award, as well as the "Young Artist" award, for his performance in The Cure.

In 1996, he was cast in Sleepers, based on the novel by Lorenzo Carcaterra. The film was directed by Barry Levinson and also starred Robert De Niro, Kevin Bacon, Dustin Hoffman and Brad Pitt.

Brad-renfro-dead-at-25-overdose In 1998, he starred opposite Ian McKellen in Apt Pupil, a film I really liked but got lukewarm reviews, directed by Bryan Singer. That same year, he played Leon S. Kennedy in a live-action preview of Resident Evil 2. Renfro went on to act in other films, including 2001's Ghost World and Bully, 2002's Confessions of an American Girl, and 2005's The Jacket. He also appeared in an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent and completed filming on the film The Informers, co-starring Mickey Rourke, Winona Ryder and Billy Bob Thornton.

What went wrong?Brad-renfro-tragic-cigarette-mouth

Quite simply, he succumbed to the party scene.  His arrests began in 1998 when police pulled him over   and allegedly found cocaine and marijuana in his pants and socks.  In 2000, he was arrested in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on a grand theft charge for allegedly trying to steal a 45 foot yacht.  He and a chum failed to actually untie the boat from the dock, causing substantial damage to both.  He was sentenced in 2001 somewhat lightly for this malfeasance; two years probation and an order to pay over $4,000 for repairs.  While on probation, he was arrested again in 2001 for underage drinking as a passenger in a car stopped for an unknown violation.  He was released from jail after a $500 bond was posted.

Unfortunately, his rap sheet got longer as time passed.  In January 2002 he was arrested and charged with  public intoxication and driving without a license, ordered back to jail for the remainder of his probation due to his earlier drunk driving arrest.  On December 23, 2005 he was arrested, together with 14 others, during a random drug sting operation in downtown L.A. while allegedly trying to buy heroin in L.A.'s Skid Row.

HeBrad_renfro_arrest-2005-skid-row had not acted for a year at the time of this arrest, captured on photo at left. 

"My message to anyone out there who's never done drugs - is to never do them," he said during his last recorded video, included hence.

Tragically, Brad never learned his own lesson or heeded his own warnings.  Renfro was found dead, at the  age of 25, on January 15, 2008 in his Los Angeles apartment.  The Los Angeles County Coroner's office, after an autopsy and toxicology testing, ruled that Renfro's death was accidental, attributing it to acute heroin/morphine intoxication. His body was returned to East Tennessee, where he was buried on January 22, 2008 north of Knoxville. 

He was not included in the annual Academy Awards tribute to Hollywood figures who died in the past year.

Less than three weeks after his death, his grandmother Joanne – who had raised him and accompanied him regularly during his early acting career – died at her home of natural causes at the age of 76.

Such talent, such promise.  If only he would have allowed his warnings to others to wake himself up out of the drug-induced fog and into rehab.  Brad Renfro, gone too soon. In a sad twist of irony, his friend Heath Ledger died of prescription drug overdose exactly one week after Renfro's death.

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I had such a thing for him as Huck in Tom and Huck. I mean, I was 10 at the time...but yeah. Such a waste.


Another tragic loss. People think these gorgeous young kids have everything- River Phoenix, Brad Renfro, Heath Ledger, etc.
Drugs will take it all away, famous or no.


I should say addiction, not just drugs...


Very sad. I still can't believe he's gone. He was so talented! Loved him!

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