In 1994, one of pop’s biggest stars burned down the Georgia mansion of one of the NFL’s biggest stars.
On June 9, 1994, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes of Grammy Award-winning group TLC set fire to the mansion of then-Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Andre Rison, according to the Los Angeles Times.
In 1992, Lopes, along with bandmates Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, had found early success with the release of their debut album, Ooooooohhh…On the TLC Tip. Riding the wave of that success, she met Rison and the two had a “burning desire” for one another that “was too flammable from the start,” Trey Taylor wrote for Paper Magazine in 2019.
A year before the arson incident, the Superbowl champion was accused of assaulting Lopes in a Kroger supermarket parking lot.
According to Greensboro News and Record, the couple got into the grocery store in September 1993 after leaving an Atlanta nightclub. Rison allegedly began hitting Lopes, and two men attempted to intervene, Sgt. RJ Dukes told the outlet. Rison then got a gun and fired at the outside of the store building.
“First of all, I want to apologize to my organization and my fans,” Rison said. “I was just defending myself. It was about a situation where I thought I might be disabled or harmed and I protected myself.”
Rison was charged with aggravated assault and posted $16,500 bail, while Lopes was arrested for allegedly assaulting a police officer and released on $1,200 bail.
Fast forward to the night of June 8, 1994. According to Paper Magazine, both Rison and Lopes went out partying all night, albeit separately. Rison reportedly stayed out until 5 a.m
When he got back to his home in Alpharetta, Georgia, he was confronted by an angry Lopes, who allegedly yelled at the pro baller in his driveway.
“I knew she had been drinking,” he said in a 1994 interview with PEOPLE. “But I didn’t know what upset her. I started getting punches in the face. Finally I grabbed her and asked her what was going on. But she kept coming back to me.”
Rison also admitted he hit Lopes.
“Not to hurt her, but to calm her down. Did not work. We were in the house now and I picked her up and slammed her down on the bed and sat on her,” he told PEOPLE. “I still couldn’t control her. So I left. I went for a 20 mile walk.
The PAPER report said the walk eventually turned into a stay at the home of teammate Jason Phillips in hopes things would calm down.
But they didn’t. According to Boombox, Lopes allegedly set fire to a pair of his sneakers and put them in the bathtub. She then went outside and broke the windshields of two of Rison’s cars with a vacuum cleaner pipe.
On June 10, Lopes turned herself in after being charged with arson. She was released on $75,000 bail and voluntarily checked into rehab shortly after.
At the time of her arrest, an attorney for Lopes, Darryl Cohen, told PEOPLE that “Lisa is scared for her life,” but Rison denied ever having been a threat to her, saying, “It hurts me because I am not like that . We’ve done everything together. Shopped, cooked, laughed, cried, went to nightclubs, parks, events.
Even though Lopes destroyed his $1.3 million home, Rison forgave her and even held her hand at her sentencing. The couple had even planned to get married, according to Wired.
Lopes was sentenced to a halfway house and five years probation and a $10,000 fine.
However, according to The New York Times, Lopes tragically died in a car accident in Honduras on April 27, 2002. The rapper had been in the country to do charity work.