Having a parent addicted to drugs is traumatizing for any young person, even those who are surrounded by fame and fortune.
Mario proves this much to be true in "I Won't Love You to Death: The Story of Mario and His Mom," a thinkMTV documentary that chronicles the R&B singer's touching relationship with his mother, Shawn, a heroin addict.
"I Won't Love You to Death: The Story of Mario and His Mom" in its entirety.)
"By doing this type of thing, I feel like I'm saying to her, 'It's OK, what you're doing is OK,' " the Baltimore native explains in a scene in which he takes Shawn shopping. "In the back of my mind, it would feel better if I knew I was doing this for my mother [when she were] well. I felt like after I left [the store], maybe I should have said, 'No. Until you get better, I'm not doing anything for you.' But sometimes it's hard to face reality."
The doc opens with the singer narrating his accomplishments, from debuting as a young teen with his 2002 hit "Just a Friend" to his later breakout, the Ne-Yo-penned "Let Me Love You." But while his career was taking off, Mario says he was struggling with his mother's addiction, which continued to weigh heavily on him.
In one of the more memorable scenes in the film, the singer describes seeing needles throughout his home as a child, constantly worrying about his mother and sometimes not seeing her for days or weeks on end. Mario was raised in a single-parent home and eventually stayed with his grandmother while his mother was at her worst.
"I want to give you the gift of life, like you gave me," Mario pleads with Shawn during an intervention he organized with her boyfriend and close friend. Though his mother is far from strung out, she has, at that point, refused treatment and relapsed several times after short periods of sobriety.
Throughout the documentary, Mario and his mother exchange stories, swap jokes and genuinely look as close as a parent and child can be. Mario gives his mother credit for kick-starting and supporting his career, even after he moved to New Jersey to live with his first manager and only saw Shawn sparingly.
But their relationship is turbulent too. Mario is often seen trying to talk to his mother about how her addiction affects everyone around her, and he balks that she's still getting high and spending so much time in the bathroom. For her part, Shawn steadfastly refuses to admit her problem and incites a confrontation with Mario's manager, trying to edge her way into her son's career. Mario wants to welcome her in, especially to help him out while he's on tour, but he's afraid she's not quite ready.
In the end, though, after much determination, his mother decides to enter treatment at a facility in Los Angeles.
"I'm tired of living my life in the bathroom," she tells Mario. " 'Cause one day I may go in there and never come out."