Madonna's oldest brother Anthony Ciccone has died aged 66. The sad announcement was made by musician Joe Henry, who is married to Madonna's sister Melanie Ciccone. The singer's sibling struggled with alcoholism and spent many years living on the streets of Michigan.
Madonna, who was born in Michigan and raised by Catholic parents and had five siblings, including Anthony, the eldest, grew up in the Detroit suburbs. Her older brother remained in Michigan and succumbed to alcoholism and homelessness, while she relocated to New York in 1978 to pursue dancing. No further details about his death by the family while making the announcement.
Henry, 62, made the sad announcement on Saturday via an Instagram post. "My brother-in-law, Anthony Gerard Ciccone, exited this earthly plane last evening. I've known him since I was 15, in the spring of our lives in Michigan so many years now gone," Henry wrote in the caption of a black-and-white image of his late family member.
"As brother Dave Henry (who took this photograph) notes here, Anthony was a complex character; and god knows: we tangled in moments, as true brothers can. But I loved him, and understood him better than I was sometimes willing to let on.
"Farewell, then, brother Anthony. I want to think the god your blessed mother (and mine) believed in has her there, waiting to receive you," he continued. "At least for today, no one shall dissuade me from this vision."
Anthony had long struggled with alcoholism and was reportedly homeless for several years. Their mother Madonna Ciccone passed away after a struggle with breast cancer in 1963. She was only 33 years old.
Madonna's family famously said that they will reintegrate estranged Anthony in 2017 after he spent some time living on the streets under a bridge in Michigan.
It came after he had openly suggested for years that his family had abandoned him. In 2011, he told the Daily Mail, "I'm a zero in their eyes; a non-person, an embarrassment."
"If I froze to death, my family probably wouldn't know or care about it for six months."
Out of Touch
Ciccone claimed he had been sharing a sleeping bag with another homeless man named Michael and living under a river bridge in Michigan. He also said that he has been one of the homeless in the ski town of Traverse City since losing a job at his father's vineyard and winery six miles away.
"My family turned their back on me, basically, when I was having a hard time,' he said. 'You think I haven't answered this question a bazillion times â why my sister is a multi-bazillionaire and I'm homeless on the street? Never say never. This could happen to anybody."
He claimed he got upset when people found it amusing that the famous star's sibling ended up living under a bridge. At the time, he was insistent that he didn't want any of her money, regardless of whether it was presented or not.
Anthony said, "I'm not looking for a free handout because of my sister. I am not looking for any publicity. Instead, he used to get his nourishment from the local church's charitable soup kitchens.
Ciccone, who claimed to have previously worked as a photographer's assistant in New York and the fishing sector in Alaska, now earns a meager living by performing odd jobs and collecting bottles and cans from people's trash bins.
Madonna was aware of his situation and has frequently offered to assist by covering the cost of his admission to treatment. His father also stated that if he received professional help, he would get his job back.