Joey Essex opens up about experiencing mum’s death aged 10 on Love Island

Reality TV star Joey Essex opened up about experiencing the death of his mum at a young age on Tuesday night’s episode (4 June) of Love Island.

The 33-year-old is the dating show’s first ever celebrity contestant, and his entrance shocked both viewers and Islanders alike. The star is considered reality royalty having appeared on The Only Way is Essex, Celebs Go Dating, and I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!

Series 11 of the ITV2 summer staple began on Monday night (3 June), introducing 12 hopeful singletons looking for love.

Joey was tasked with “stealing” a girl from one of the brand-new couples, sending one boy packing in a brutal first-night dumping.

As he pulled 25-year-old retail manager, Jess White, for a chat, the Ony Way is Essex star spoke about the loss of his mum at a young age.

“I actually want a strong girl,” he told Jess, who said she was very close to her mum as her dad had passed away a few years ago.

“I was raised by my dad,” shared Essex. “My mum passed away when I was 10. I’ve always been like... Obviously, it’s not nice do you know what I mean? Growing up.

“I found it hard for years. I never really spoke about it. But when you actually do speak about things, it’s like, ‘Oh!’ It’s better to own it.”

 (ITV/Love Island)
(ITV/Love Island)

He admitted that it was only when he turned 30, that he felt more comfortable to speak about his loss.

Joey lost his mother, Tina Essex, to suicide when he was only 10-years-old, and when his brother and TOWIE co-star Frankie Essex was 13.

Joey shared his experience with grief in a candid interview for BBC Three’s Joey Essex: Grief and Me in 2021, in which the star said: “As a young kid, just about to go into secondary school, there’s no way out. No one understands where you’re coming from.

“People normally see me laughing and joking, being ‘Joey Essex’. Things that happened to me, I haven’t been able to talk about.”

 (ITV/Love Island)
(ITV/Love Island)

The Celebs Go Dating star chose to couple up with 26-year-old Scouser Samantha Kenny after saying she had been the most “flirtatious” in their interactions, sending 23-year-old hairdresser Sam Taylor home.

Love Island is on at 9pm every night except Saturday, on ITV2 and ITVX.