With the announcement late Monday afternoon (October 27) that the body of a young boy found dead in an SUV was in fact Jennifer Hudson's 7-year-old nephew, Julian King, the Hudson family was dealt another heavy blow.
Before Hudson's mother, Darnell Donerson, 57, and her 29-year-old brother, Jason Hudson, were found shot to death in their South Side Chicago home on Friday afternoon, those who knew the Hudsons described them as a close-knit family. And the singer/actress herself often said her family is what keeps her grounded.
Donerson was a shy, quiet woman who supported her daughter's success but didn't need to bask in it like a typical stage mother. She even declined to attend a recent taping of Oprah Winfrey's show, in which Hudson would be promoting her latest film, "The Secret Life of Bees."
"She doesn't want the attention," Hudson recently told Australia's Sunday Telegraph, "while at the same time, she's extremely proud and happy for me."
Hudson's father died when she was a teenager, and Hudson and her mother had a close relationship. Donerson encouraged her daughter to perform, and often enjoyed singing songs by the Temptations at home. "She would always sing that to us," Hudson told ABC News when she was promoting "Dreamgirls."
When Hudson first found out she was up for an Oscar for "Dreamgirls," the first thing she did was call her mom, she told the New York Post at the time. "She was so excited," Hudson said. "It was like, 'Wow!' She was just getting set to take my nephew to school. I always call my mom first."
And when Hudson went to the ceremony, she brought her mother along as her date and, of course, thanked her in her acceptance speech when she won Best Supporting Actress.
"I'm so grateful to have my mother here celebrating with me," she told the crowd.
Hudson often returned home to Chicago to visit her family, because that's where "my life is normal," she told The Associated Press. "When I go home to my mom, I'm just Jennifer. And I love that. I don't like when people tell you everything you want to hear. I want to hear the truth, you know what I mean?"
Jason Hudson had also been living with their mother ever since being shot two years ago during a home invasion. "We nearly lost him," Donerson's cousin John Buckner told the Chicago Sun-Times. "He was more or less a happy individual, trying to get his life straightened out."
Jason had been working as a mechanic, and friends described him to reporters as a fun guy who liked barbecue, sports and video games. "He was a real nice guy," his neighbor Hiriam Hill told ABC News. "Nobody ever had any bad blood against this man."
On Jason's MySpace page, he jokingly listed his occupation as "player." Already, a huge outpouring of his friends are commenting on the page about how much they miss him. His quote on the top of the page reads, "Life's too short for bulls---, keep it gangster."
At a press conference Saturday, Hudson's older sister, Julia, pleaded for the safe return of her son Julian, whom she described as an "easygoing" kid who went by the nicknames "Juice Box" and "Dr. King" and preferred staying home with his grandmother than going outside. Buckner told the Sun-Times that Julian was doted on, and that he was a "happy-go-lucky kid, a spoiled little kid."