20 Years Ago: Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes of TLC Burns Down Andre Rison’s House
In recent years, Chris Brown and Rihanna‘s publicly troubled relationship created shocking headlines that repeatedly threatened to overload the Internet. But nothing they did was ever as literally explosive as what Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes of TLC did to her boyfriend’s house on June 9, 1994.
In 1993, R&B trio TLC were riding high on the success of their debut record, ‘Ooooooohhh…On the TLC Tip.’ It was in March of that year that Lopes met and began dating Atlanta Falcons football star Andre Rison.
From the outset of their relationship, things were highly combustible between the pair. Less than six months later, Rison was arrested in a parking lot after he allegedly physically abused Lopes, reportedly shooting a handgun in the air in an attempt to thwart others from intervening. Charges against Rison were eventually dropped, but the incident did not signal the end of the turmoil between the two.
On the night of June 8, 1994 Rison was reportedly out clubbing with some of his friends. He returned home at approximately 5AM on the morning of June 9 and was greeted by an agitated Lopes — reportedly angry because he bought himself lots of new sneakers, without getting her any — in the driveway of his million-dollar mansion.
“I knew she’d been drinking some,” Rison told People magazine. “But I didn’t know what was upsetting her. I started taking blows to the face. Finally, I grabbed her and asked her what was wrong. But she kept coming at me.”
Claiming self-defense, Rison slapped Lopes in an effort to try to calm her down. When that didn’t work, the couple moved inside the house, where Rison allegedly picked up the TLC star, slammed her onto the bed and sat on her in a repeated effort to control her. When that failed, Rison left the home.
It was at that point Lopes allegedly set fire to a pair of sneakers in the bathtub, then went outside and took a vacuum cleaner pipe to the windshields of two of Rison’s luxury vehicles. Before long, the entire mansion was engulfed in flames. Rison’s brother Reggie reported seeing the TLC star standing over the whirlpool outside the house, watching the fire spread.
By the time Rison returned to what was once his home, little of the building was left standing.
On June 10, Lopes turned herself into the Atlanta police to face the music. She was charged with felony arson but released on $75,000 bail. Approximately five days later, her lawyer announced that Lopes had voluntarily entered rehab.
For his part, Rison denied ever having abused the singer, stating, ”It hurts me because I’m not like that. We did everything together — shopped, cooked, laughed, cried, went to nightclubs, parks, functions…”
Despite Lopes’ assertions that she did not intend to burn down her beau’s mansion, she was sentenced to live at a halfway house and five years probation, in addition to paying a $10,000 fine.
And though such turmoil would have signaled the end of the line for most couples, Lopes and Rison remained committed to one another after the fire. At her sentencing, Rison held Lopes’ hand and said that he forgave the rapper. The two even planned to eventually get married, however, those plans were tragically cut short when Lopes was killed in an automobile accident while on a spiritual retreat in Honduras in 2002.