Things we learned about Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes after her death

TLC is the one of the most successful girl groups of all-time, beating out legends like The Supremes. During the 1990s, they were impossible to miss, racking up number one hits, promoting safe sex, defining popular culture, and revolutionizing the music industry. 

Sadly, in April of 2002, they lost Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes to a tragic car accident, and the band has never been the same. 

Lopes made her mark on the world even though she died far too young. She lives on in her music and legacy, and continues to be remembered by her fans. Even though she's no longer with us, there's still a lot about her to learn. Here are the things we learned about Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes after her death.

Her father was super strict

Lopes' father Ronald Lopes, a former Army staff sergeant, was an extremely strict father and husband. Lopes talked about it in The Last Days of Left Eye, a documentary that she was making about her life at the time of her death. "When we lived with my dad, he was a drill sergeant for real. When he would come home, I don't care if it was 3:00 in the morning — if it was something that wasn't right, he'd wake us up… We would jump out the bed, and we would run downstairs, and we would line up, like soldiers!" 

Her father also handed out some steep punishments. She continued, "Whenever I did bad in school, I got the heavy-duty punishment: no TV, no radio, no front porch, no backyard, no boyfriends — no nothing. You sit in your room and think." Lopes also says he was also abusive to her mother. 

Additionally, Lopes notes in the film that her father, himself a heavy drinker, encouraged her drinking at a young age in spite of his otherwise strict demeanor. 

The notorious house fire could have been put out much sooner

Lopes was the subject of intense media scrutiny when she torched her then-boyfriend Andre Rison's home during a domestic dispute. It was well-known by then that she and Rison had a tumultuous relationship, as the stormy couple had been in the headlines before. But the fire didn't have to grow to the intensity that it did. In an interview with Essence magazine, Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins said that, "The fire could've even been stopped if they stopped acting like little girls and put the fire out. That really could've been settled differently." 

Watkins' observation is confirmed in The Last Days of Left Eye. In the film, Lopes describes how she started the fire, saying she was "gonna barbecue me some tennis shoes," and set fire to Rison's sneakers in the bathtub. But the fire spread quickly out of the tub and consumed much of the house, which was not Lopes' intention.  She said, "I didn't realize what I was doing. I didn't mean for the house to burn down." 

She cut herself

After Lopes was sentenced for burning down her boyfriend's house, she knowingly and intentionally decided to cut herself. In The Last Days of Left Eye, she confessed that, "I carved 'love' in my arm with a lady bic [razor]… I carved 'I love Dre.'" She also said why she did it, and admitted, "I was in need of some attention. I was a little hurt, a little angry. I was serving time in the diversion center, and… he wasn't really coming to visit…. I was frustrated."

She also clarified that knew what she was doing, and that it wasn't a suicide attempt. She continued, "I wasn't trying to kill myself. I wasn't going to die. I wasn't afraid. I knew I was going to cut myself and there was going to be some blood." 

After she was released, she again cut herself, and carved over the word 'love.' Gesturing to her arm, she said, "It said 'love' first and then 'hate.' And as you can see, you can't even see 'love' anymore." As to her motivation, she said, "Love turned into hate because… he accused me and his friend of flirting, and he was saying really mean things. So, I was so frustrated that I went and grabbed the razor, and over the top of the word 'love,' I started writing the word 'hate.'" 

She was frequently misjudged

Celebrities in the public eye are often the subject of gossip, and Lopes was no exception. While her reputation caused people to form their own opinions about her, friends and family knew the real Lopes. Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas told Essence magazine, "People didn't understand how much of a heart she really had and how passionate and giving she was. She might have come across as someone who wanted to start trouble all the time, but that wasn't it; she just had a lot to say. Sometimes when you speak what's on your mind — I'm talking everything on your mind… people can get a misconception of you. So because she spoke her mind, all of the time, it caused people to misjudge her."

Lopes was keenly aware that people had formed negative opinions about her, too. In The Last Days of Left Eye, she noted, "Throughout my career I've gone through several things, and you know I've been called crazy. I pretty much just want to set the record straight." 

She sent T-Boz a clock

While Lopes was most known for her bold, daring style and musical brilliance, she was also creative in the way she cared for her friends. Watkins, who has sickle cell disease, once received a thoughtful gift from Lopes when she was in the hospital. 

Watkins talked about it with Essence magazine on the tenth anniversary of Lopes' passing, saying, "She was very creative, too. I remember I was in the hospital for four months and she sent me a clock that she made and the clock read: 'Take all the time you need.' She really put thought into things."

She put her mentees on strict diets

It was well known by the public that Lopes was invested in her physical and spiritual health; she would frequently retreat to Honduras to do cleanses, as she followed and endorsed a guru named Dr. Sebi who was based there. It was also well known that Dr. Sebi was controversial because he claimed he could cure AIDS with diet and homeopathic remedies. 

Additionally, the public knew that Lopes mentored girl bands like Egypt, who were with her during her final retreat in Honduras. She was known to be incredibly generous in the way that she mentored, helping young women break into the music industry. 

What only became public upon the release of The Last Days of Left Eye, many years later, is that she had the members of Egypt cleansing and fasting with her. They ate strict diets and drank herbal drinks, and would often vomit because the tinctures tasted so foul. They eventually broke their diets, gleefully stocking up on chips and other items at a local grocery store.

She was in the car when a Honduran boy was hit and killed

In what can be read as an eerie foreshadowing of her own passing, Lopes was riding as a passenger in her van when her personal assistant accidentally hit and killed Bayron Isaul Fuentes Lopez, a 10-year-old Honduran boy. According to the New York Post, the boy suddenly stepped into traffic off of a median, and the car then hit him. 

In spite of not being at fault, Lopes paid all of the medical and funeral expenses, and gave the family some additional funds. But she still was haunted by the experience, and it affected her deeply and profoundly. "I don't think I will ever get over it," she mused in The Last Days of Left Eye. It's also noted in the documentary that she blamed a spirit for the accident, the same spirit that she previously said was chasing her.

Her friends hoped she was just joking, not dead

Because of Lopes' notorious disappearance when she ditched a press conference and absconded to Honduras, some of her friends hoped that reports of her death were false. Producer Jermaine Dupri reflected about it, telling MTV News, "Somebody paged me. I was hoping it was a rumor, because you heard stuff about Lisa before. Like, she was missing before, and I guess people were sending out pages saying Left Eye was missing — if you know her whereabouts, please tell… I was praying to God that it was something like that again." 

Producer Dallas Austin also has his doubts. He told MTV News that, "a two-way [page] went off saying Lisa got killed in a car wreck. [I was thinking,] 'Are they playing, are they serious? Maybe that's why the music is playing so loud downstairs.' Then I called Rozonda, [and] she was like, 'Yeah.' The crazy part about it is that you're hoping this is one of those times Lisa was pulling something." Sadly, Lopes had indeed passed away.

Her casket has a verse from Waterfalls engraved on it

Lopes' poetic verses accompanied her to her final resting place, which we learned after her funeral. According to E! News, lyrics from the TLC mega-hit "Waterfalls" were engraved on her casket. Specifically, the lyrics from her famous rap were selected: "Dreams are hopeless aspirations in hopes of coming true/believe in yourself/the rest is up to me and you."

T-Boz and Chilli refuse to replace her

When asked if they would consider bringing on someone else as a third member, Watkins and Thomas emphatically declined. They said as much in an interview on ABC Primetime, responding in unison. Watkins shook her head and said, "Never, never, " and Thomas responded, "Oh god no. I mean honestly? Never, ever, ever, ever. We have die-hard fans out there, and I'm sure they would be very upset if we tried to replace Lisa." 

More than 15 years later, the duo have upheld this, refusing to add a permanent replacement. And while they did have a reality show called R U the Girl in 2005 in which they sought a third member, the spot was only temporary.

She was in a poetic phase when she passed

TLC didn't cease to exist when Lopes passed away, although the trio was clearly altered irrevocably. And since Watkins and Thomas stuck by their promise never to replace Lopes, they've relied on material Lopes recorded prior to her death to carry on the group's legacy. 

But some of that has been held up by permission constraints. In a 2017 interview for BET, Watkins and Thomas discussed how they keep Lopes' legacy alive in their current work. Watkins said, "We incorporate her in everything that we do, everything we show… the problem has been is that she was on a poetic type vibe when she passed, and we kind of went through every vocal… and you have some people who… are trying to hold it hostage for money, which is disrespectful." 

In spite of those constraints, Watkins and Thomas continue to keep Lopes' legacy alive.