Tragic Details About Kendra Wilkinson

The following article includes discussions of suicide, drug abuse, and abuse.

Kendra Wilkinson rose to fame as a Playboy star and a famous girlfriend of Hugh Hefner. Fans fell in love with her because of her outspoken nature and larger-than-life personality. She appeared happy and carefree, but not everything about Wilkinson's life has been easy. "I did a lot of healing. I did a lot of healing from Playboy. I'm like, 'Okay, who am I? Who is this chick? I don't even know who this person is," she said in an interview with Melissa Gorga's "On Display" podcast in 2023. 

In recent years, Wilkinson has reinvented herself, becoming a mother and a real estate agent. She is nothing if not resilient and determined. She has overcome many things to become the successful celebrity she is today. From drug addiction in her teens to complicated relationships with family and a heartbreaking divorce, these are the tragic details about Kendra Wilkinson's life and her journey to overcoming them.

She was suicidal as a teen

Fans of Kendra Wilkinson may see her as an energetic, happy-go-lucky individual, but she has had many struggles to overcome that have made her the woman she is today. Wilkinson is incredibly open about her life and has shared much of it with fans on "Kendra on Top," and this includes a confession about her mental health struggles as a teenager.

"When I was a teenager, I battled some severe depression," she told therapist Dr. Monica Shahbaznia (via Daily Mail). "I attempted suicide a couple times. I went to a mental institution ... drugs, overdosing, slitting wrists, all that stuff." Wilkinson also discussed her mother, Patti Wilkinson, and how she could not give her the love and reassurance she needed as a child. "I was a young f****** girl. All I wanted was for my mom to say, 'I love you, and I'm here for you,'" she said. "I never got that."

In 2023, Wilkinson discussed her mental health on Instagram. "I just recently finished treatment for my depression and anxiety," she wrote in the caption of her black-and-white selfie. "Being a solo act can get heavy sometimes, and life can get challenging but I do the best I can and push with positive energy." Before her update, it had been reported (via E! News) that Wilkinson had a panic attack in September of 2023.

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Kendra Wilkinson struggled with substance misuse

As a teenager, Kendra Wilkinson started using drugs. She became addicted to cocaine, meth, and LSD in her teens. Things got so bad that she overdosed when she was 14. "My drug habit was turning into a nightmare pretty quickly, and one night soon after, I almost didn't survive," she told Sunday People (via The Mirror) in 2014. "Line after line, I just kept going. Usually, I knew my limit and stopped myself when I hit it because even though I was a druggie, I was still fearful of anything bad happening." This resulted in her having a terrible reaction. "I was shaking and choking on the blood that was dripping down my throat. I was in serious trouble; everyone thought I was dying," she added, noting how her "friends" refused to phone emergency services to help her.

This incident is ingrained in her memory, but it's not the only time the "The Girls of the Playboy Mansion" star has spoken about her struggles. In a chat with E! True Hollywood Story in 2010, she commented on the extent of her drug use. "I was bleeding from every hole in my body and I really thought I was going to die that night," she said. This was a turning point for Wilkinson, who realized she needed to stop everything and change her life.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

She did not enjoy intimacy with Hugh Hefner

Kendra Wilkinson gained fame as Hugh Hefner's third girlfriend and moved into the Playboy Mansion in 2003. When she joined the British reality television show "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!" in 2014, she confessed to not knowing the full details of what being Hefner's girlfriend would entail.

"Hef asked me to be one of his girlfriends and live in the mansion, and I was like, 'Hell yeah, I'm here!'" she said on the show (via Page Six). "I was living in this small-a** apartment with this ugly-a** b***h. I was praying for anything to get me out of there." Becoming Hefner's girlfriend would allow her to live in a beautiful home, but it also meant having sex with the Playboy founder, who was 60 years older than her. "I moved in, and weeks went by, and I didn't know that sex was involved," she recalled. "I knew nothing about 'Playboy,' I'd just graduated high school."

The former couple did engage in sexual intercourse, but it was not enjoyable for Wilkinson. Instead, it felt like work. "I was usually very very drunk doing those evenings, I tended not to care about much until the next day," she said, per The Mirror. "At about the minute mark, I pulled away and it was done. It was like a job. Clock in, clock out. It's not like I enjoyed having sex with him."

The release of her sex tape left her emotional

Kendra Wilkinson created a sex tape with her high school boyfriend, Justin Frye, when she was 18. She had never intended for it to be made public. In 2010, it was reported that Vivid Entertainment had released this tape. Wilkinson earned $680,000 (via HuffPost) from the release, but she was incredibly emotional about it coming to light.

"It's extremely embarrassing," the star told E! News. "I am a very open person, I am very honest about my life, but a sex tape was definitely not what I wanted in my life. It just had to come out now when I finally cleaned up my life."

Wilkinson was also married to Hank Baskett at the time. "It just sucks because it's the hardest thing to deal with right now, and it's hard on Hank," she said on her reality show, "Kendra" (via Us Weekly). "It's hard on him because it involves another guy, of course, and it's hard on him because of our son and everything." She also claimed that the tape's revelation left her heartbroken because she has moved on and is now a mother with a child. A tipster told RadarOnline in 2010 how Wilkinson and Baskett were coping with the situation. "This happened when she was young. He already knew about this. She told him about this before they got married," they said.

Kendra Wilkinson was estranged from her brother

Kendra Wilkinson's relationship with her younger brother, Colin Wilkinson, has had its challenges, and in 2014, they became estranged. Colin put Kendra on blast on Facebook (via RadarOnline) because of her decision to include their father, Eric Wilkinson, in "Kendra on Top." Colin claimed his sister "has not only paid my father to appear on her reality show but also took the time to fly to another country to visit him." Referring to his father, he called him "the biggest coward piece of sh** I have ever met."

This estrangement would continue for two years. In 2016, Colin approached Kendra for a reconciliation following their grandmother's health concerns, and their meeting played out on "Kendra on Top."

"I haven't talked to my brother through these last two years, so it really sucks that I had to see my brother these last couple days when my grandmother was in the hospital," Kendra said in an episode of her show. "I do wish that me and my brother had a reunion under better circumstances. I must say that everything that me and my brother have gone through went out the window. He really stepped up and he really became a true man. He just really put his feelings aside and knew what my grandma would want — that really meant a lot to me."

Her mother was abusive

Kendra Wilkinson's relationship with her mother, Patti Wilkinson, is complicated, and their troubles started in 2014. Kendra gave fans an insight into it with her reality television show, "Kendra on Top," in 2015 (via E! News). "I can't deal with my mom anymore," Kendra told her aunt, Kristin Wilkinson. "She is the most sadistic abuser."

This is not the first time Kendra has spoken about her mother in the press, and the ups and downs of their relationship have been well-documented. "Right now, things are still very bad between me and my mom," she told People in 2016. Speaking of the reason their bond deteriorated, she said, "I didn't know how to balance life. Unfortunately, at that time, I took my attention away from my mom because I had to focus on my family."

In 2017, "Kendra on Top" (via People) showed the cracks in their relationship again, this time because Patti allegedly had plans to pen a memoir that would include details of what it was like raising her daughter. Opening their lives to the media is something Kendra had previously accused her mother of doing. In a 2015 appearance on WeTV's "Marriage Boot Camp" (via ExtraTV), Kendra could be heard yelling at her mother, "The devil has eaten your soul! ... You sold us out to the tabloids!"

She faced a cheating scandal with her husband

There was a time when Kendra Wilkinson and Hank Baskett were the picture of wedded bliss, but that all came crashing down in 2014 when the couple faced a cheating scandal. At the time, it was reported that Baskett had an affair with a model, Ava Sabrina London, when his wife was pregnant with their daughter.

Hank made a statement, telling People, "I messed up. I put myself in a bad situation. And everything through me brought pain upon this family." He also discussed the alleged cheating. "I didn't engage in anything," he said, but noted that he did not move away when the model touched him intimately. "It was like a bank robbery. You never know when you'll freeze. I don't know if it was a couple of seconds or 15 seconds because all I was saying was get out, get out, get out."

The couple decided to work on their marriage, although it was difficult. "It's going to take a lifetime to trust him again," Wilkinson told Us Weekly in 2014. "All I can say is I believe Hank. I love Hank. And he's proven to me that he's worth forgiving and fighting for. He was at the wrong place at the wrong time, and unfortunate things took place. He's very gullible and naive."

She had a public spat with Holly Madison

Kendra Wilkinson, Holly Madison, and Bridget Marquardt were Hugh Hefner's girlfriends during the same era and appeared on the reality television show, "The Girls Next Door." Wilkinson dated Hefner from 2004 until 2008, while Madison had started dating him in 2001 and lasted until 2008. Madison detailed her experience in her 2015 memoir, "Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny." While she did discuss her time at the mansion, she also criticized Wilkinson.

"Kendra had apparently given an interview to a tabloid explaining that she wasn't friends with either of us [her and Marquardt] as if she were somehow better than everyone else," Madison wrote (via Us Weekly). "She's the fakest person I've ever met — and that if she had a problem with me, she should have confronted me like an adult instead of just going silent." Madison also claimed they no longer spoke. 

Wilkinson and Madison also have different versions of events from their time at the mansion. Kendra made a series of tweets in 2016 calling Madison out, and her words were harsh. Over the years, the two women have continued to comment on each other, but most recently, Kendra gave an interview to ET in 2023, detailing how she has moved on and healed privately concerning what she endured in the past. "I have all new friends. I have a whole new life," she said. "I don't really know anybody anymore from the past."

Kendra Wilkinson and Hank Baskett got a divorce

Kendra Wilkinson and Hank Baskett announced their decision to divorce in 2018, which was finalized the following year. Their relationship had good times and bad, and she had previously discussed their marriage roller coaster on Instagram (via People). "The decision was made for her kids," a tipster told Us Weekly in 2018 of the split. "She wants them to be in a healthy environment, and that's why she decided to go through with this."

The star was in no rush to start another relationship. "Been dating myself lately," Wilkinson wrote in a since-deleted Instagram post from November 2018 (via Us Weekly). "Getting to know myself and even falling in love. Love and happiness is real without waiting on someone or something to do it for you."

She has worked hard to heal and feel better, but it's unlikely that Wilkinson and Baskett will get back together. "I love him, and I always will, but I'm not sure if that's possible," she told E! News in June 2023. "We're co-parenting so good. The kids are so happy."

She lost her reality TV show

For most of her adult life, Kendra Wilkinson has been on television. The reality shows she has appeared on have opened her life up to the public, and when it was announced that "Kendra on Top" (which ran from 2012 to 2017) would not be renewed amid her split from her husband, Hank Baskett, she found herself feeling overwhelmed and depressed.

"I went through a divorce, lost everything I knew, which was my TV show. I had a TV show every year until my divorce," Wilkinson said on Melissa Gorga's "On Display" podcast in 2023. "Then my divorce happened and all of a sudden, now I'm left with no marriage, I'm left with no show, I had to move into a little house — I didn't understand what was going on and all of a sudden I had to do some intense healing." During her chat with Gorga, the "Girls Next Door" star also discussed how she struggled with all the change. "I didn't even know how to be happy. My kids were what gave me the purpose," she admitted.

This was a show that meant a lot to Wilkinson. "I can honestly say that what we're capturing is something that no other reality show gets to capture," she told The Hollywood Reporter in 2012. "It's positive but it's real ... nobody gets to really get this stuff for TV [because] people get too nervous about it."

The family struggled to adapt to the new normal

Following Kendra Wilkinson and Hank Baskett's divorce, the "Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!" actor became a single mom. The former couple sought joint legal and physical custody of their two children, daughter Alijah Mary and son Hank. The transition to their new normal has not been easy, and many aspects of Wilkinson's life have had to change. "I love being a single mom. I love real estate. But sometimes, when you know, it just gets to be a lot," she said in an interview with ET in 2023. "A lot of pressure, because, you know, I'm not a perfect person."

Wilkinson discussed how it had been challenging to co-parent with her ex-husband in an interview with People in 2021. "It was a rough start for me to get used to co-parenting," she said. "I didn't know how to not have my kids. And then the guilt would set in. I'm in a neighborhood where everyone has their kids 24/7, and when I don't have my kids, I want to cry."

Despite no longer being married to Baskett, Wilkinson admits he is a dedicated father. "I'll forever love my ex-husband, you know, he's the greatest father to my kids, and that's all I really just ask for," she told Us Weekly in 2023.

Her Playboy days are affecting her new opportunities

It has not been easy for Kendra Wilkinson to shed the image of her Playboy days despite opting for a different career path. She is interested in real estate and even landed a new reality show, "Kendra Sells Hollywood," in 2021 to show off her skills.

But selling houses to clients who still think of her as a Playboy playmate can be a challenge. This scenario played out in Season 2 of "Kendra Sells Hollywood." "I'm some Playboy girl forever, desperate for fame, wanting to sell a house. That's the story," an emotional Wilkinson says on the show. In the same promotional video for the series, she tells the cameras, "My past comes calling back, and I just want to move forward." These are unique challenges for Wilkinson to navigate, but she enjoys her work despite this. "Starting a new career in real estate on a TV show, it's hard work because not only am I trying to focus on building my new career, I am a single mom on top of it," she told ET in a 2023 interview.