Friends and family paid their respects to troubled actor Brad Renfro on Monday night in his native Knoxville, Tennessee, as the 25-year-old was laid to rest a week after his sudden, still-unexplained death in Los Angeles.
Just hours after the funeral, TMZ reported that Renfro had a young son (who lives in Japan with the boy’s mother), listed as “Y Renfro” in a local paper’s obituary for the actor.
The Knoxville News-Sentinel reported that more than 600 people attended the funeral and closed-casket viewing at the Stevens Mortuary in North Knoxville, where a simple arrangement of red, white and yellow flowers sat next to the casket along with a photograph of the “Client” star in his younger, happier days.
Among the mourners was Renfro’s great-uncle, Michael Earl, who officiated the service and alluded to his nephew’s struggles with drug addiction during his eulogy. “Brad had problems just like I have problems, just like you have problems, just like all of us have trials and tribulations that we go through,” Earl said. “Was Brad perfect? Well, I can tell you I’m not. Are you? But I have had that righteousness extended unto me that comes only by the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And I’m gonna see him again. Oh, what a reunion. … And if you have the same kind of personal faith, you can take solace and comfort and great joy in knowing that you’ll get to see him again. It’s not goodbye, but it’s see you later.”
The paper reported that the viewing lasted for more than three hours, with Renfro’s father and stepmother, Mark and Kim Renfro, and his mother, Angel Olsen, holding hands and offering hugs to the nearly 600 mourners, half of whom appeared to be close to Renfro’s age.
Renfro spent his childhood and the early years of his career in Knoxville but was found dead on January 15 at his home in Los Angeles, where he had lived for several years. He was discovered at age 10 and cast opposite Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones in the legal thriller “The Client” and went on to win acclaim for his work alongside Ian McKellen in “Apt Pupil,” but over the past few years, arrests and struggles with substance abuse had derailed what had once been a promising career.
In his eulogy, Earl encouraged people to refrain from judging Renfro and remember him for the loving young man he was, according to the paper. “He lived life, and he enjoyed it,” Earl said. “Whatever he did, he did it hard as he could. … If he messed up, he’d go after it 100 percent. Yeah, I know him. And yes, I loved him.”
TMZ — which reported last week that the actor had gotten the phrase “F— All Y’all” tattooed across his back recently — posted a story on Tuesday (January 22) that claimed Renfro’s family is trying to keep information about his young son under wraps. The site claimed to have spoken to Mark and Kim Renfro, who would not reveal the boy’s name or age in an attempt to protect his privacy. “We did expect this because people didn’t know he had a son,” Kim Renfro reportedly told TMZ about the decision to list the boy as “Y Renfro” in a newspaper obit. “But we’re very thankful Brad got to see his son before he died.” Renfro was reportedly in Tennessee with the boy recently, and he is said to have spent a lot of time with him prior to his death.