Bobby Brown on Whitney Houston: "I'm Not the Reason She's Gone"

In his first interview since his ex-wife's Feb. 11 death, the singer claims that he isn't the one who got Whitney "addicted to drugs"

Bobby Brown was barely a part of Whitney Houston's life by the time she died, yet that hasn't shielded him from blame. Brown, who was married to Houston for 15 tumultuous years, is often rumored to have introduced her to drugs: the "bad boy" R&B star corrupting the angelic pop singer. However, in a new interview with Today, Brown adamantly denies that he was responsible for Houston's addictions.

"It's just unexplainable how one could, you know, (say that I) got her addicted to drugs," Brown, 43, tells Matt Lauer. "I'm not the reason she's gone."

In fact, Brown hints that it was the other way around, saying that Houston got into drugs "way before" they were together.

"I didn't get high before I met Whitney," Brown claims. "I smoked weed, I drank the beer, but no, I wasn't the one that got Whitney on drugs at all."

The "My Prerogative" singer has been off drugs for seven years (although he's not exactly sober; he was hit with a DUI charge this March). He tells Lauer that he and Whitney both realized "that our drug use had affected our relationship, had affected the love that we felt for each other" after watching their train-wreck 2005 reality show, Being Bobby Brown. The couple split up the following year, and when Whitney told Oprah Winfrey in 2009 that she'd gotten sober, Bobby believed her. He tells Today that he was stunned to learn that cocaine contributed to her death.

"I was hurt," says Brown of the revelation, "because, you know, me being off of narcotics for the last seven years, I felt that she was, you know, I didn't know she was struggling with it still. But at the same time, you know, listen, it's a hard fight. It's a hard fight to, you know, maintain sobriety that way."

Brown's personal theory seems to be that Houston's cocaine use was a relapse. He says she "looked really well" -- in other words, sober and healthy -- the last time he saw her, a week before her death on Feb. 11.

"That's all it takes. One hit, you know," he says. "It could definitely take your life away from you. And, unfortunately, that was it."

As for the popular notion that Whitney's downward spiral began when she met him, Brown says hearing that "makes me feel terrible." He adds: "But you know, I know differently. I think if anyone ever knew us, if anybody ever spent time around us instead of time lookin' through the bubble, they would know how we felt about each other. They would know how happy we were together

The Bobby Brown interview airs Wednesday on Today, followed by a second interview on Thursday with Brown's fiancee Alicia Etheridge and his three oldest children: Landon, Bobby Jr. and La'Princia. Notably missing from the lineup is the person who has the most first-hand knowledge of Brown's marriage to Houston: their daughter Bobbi Kristina. Will this interview help redeem Bobby Brown in the eyes of Whitney's fans? We don't know, but we do know this: Other people close to Whitney have also testified that she got into drugs long before she met Bobby.

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