The 38-year-old former “American Idol” finalist sat down for a candid discussion with The Guardian and explained how she coped in the ensuing decade since her sister Julia’s estranged husband, William Balfour, received three life sentences for the shooting deaths of her 57-year-old mother Darnell Donerson, her 29-year-old brother Jason Hudson and her nephew Julian King.
“Thank God. I think I attribute that first to God, next to [the fact that] when you experience trauma, it comes and goes. It’s always there. But it’s a matter of how you deal with it,” the star told the outlet.
The Oscar-winner went on to note that she realized early on in the grieving process that she would need to honor her lost relatives by moving on with her life the way they would have wanted her to.
“It would be worse, to me, not to press forward,” she said. “I’m hearing my brother’s voice say, ‘Jenny, knock it off!’ He would be angry at me for giving up. Or all the things that my mother instilled in us. She prepared us. She would say, ‘You know, I’m not always going to be here and I want you all to be able to make it.’ She used to say, without family, you have nothing, which is why it’s so important to take care of family. So if I’m doing that, I know I’m pleasing my mother.”
She also noted that the establishment of the Julian D King Gift Foundation, named in her nephew’s honor, helped her move forward and cope with the unthinkable loss, as well.
“Because he was strong and very smart. So to live in a way that honors them is what presses you forward. Not to mention, thank God, that I have a child to live for.”
Hudson is a mom to David Otunga Jr., 10, whose father is WWE star David Otunga. Hudson and Otunga separated in 2007.
Prosecutors said at the time of Balfour's trial that he became enraged by balloons he saw at the family's Chicago home that he thought were from Julia Hudson's new boyfriend. She told investigators that on the day of the killings, she saw Balfour linger behind as she was driving off from home to her job as a school bus driver.
Prosecutors say Balfour went back inside the three-story house around 9 a.m. and used a .45-caliber handgun to kill Hudson's mother in the living room, and then shot her brother twice in the head as he lay in bed.
He allegedly drove off in Jason Hudson's SUV with King inside. Authorities say he shot the boy nicknamed Juice Box in the head as he lay behind a front seat. His body was found in the abandoned vehicle miles away after a three-day search.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.