The mother who became a viral celebrity after smacking her son for participating in the Baltimore riots is in the news again after she lost her home to a fire.
Toya Graham, a single mother of six, found herself homeless after her 17-year-old son Michael set the house ablaze when frying chicken tenders.
“I had stepped away to the bathroom real quick,” Michael told WBFF. “When I got back, there was smoke and fire coming from the pan.”
He tried to throw water onto the grease fire, but that only made things worse. Although nobody was harmed in the incident, the damage has made the home inhabitable. Graham does not have renter’s insurance.
Graham and Michael are probably best known for their public altercation that was caught on camera during the Baltimore riots in April 2015. When Graham found Michael on the streets, wearing a mask and rioting, she immediately took matters into her own hands. CNN reports she stormed up to her son, smacked him in the head and screamed at him.
“That’s my only son and at the end of the day I don’t want him to be a Freddie Gray,” she said, referring to the man who had died while in police custody, according to CNN. “I was angry. I was shocked, because you never want to see your child out there doing that.”
Her actions went viral and received a host of praise. Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts even thanked her, saying more parents should take after her example.
“And if you saw in one scene you had one mother who grabbed their child who had a hood on his head and she started smacking him on the head because she was so embarrassed,” he said. “I wish I had more parents that took charge of their kids out there tonight.”
WBFF reports that numerous people have reached out to offer donations to the Graham family after the loss of their home. There is also a GoFundMe page for those interested in donating. By Aug. 17, it had far exceeded its $5,000 goal, raising more than $30,000.
“I’m tired of the struggle, I feel broken,” she said. “You try to hold on because you try to do everything, you try to be strong for your children. You try, but this is a lot.”
Sources: WBFF, CNN, GoFundMe / Photo credit: GoFundMe, CNN/YouTube