Whitney Houston was nicknamed Illegal when she was young, Pastor Marvin Winans revealed Monday.
Winans, the Grammy Award-winning pastor of Detroit's Perfecting Church who gave a moving eulogy during the singer's funeral service on Saturday, told Good Morning America the intriguing tidbit on Monday.
We called Whitney 'Illegal' because she would just do stuff, Winans said on the show. Not because she was Whitney Houston the star but because she was this mischievous little girl from New Jersey.
He went to describe an incident that illustrates why she ended up with the name:
The last time she was in Detroit ... we have a congregation, there's about 2,000 people in the church, and she's sitting in the second row and she keeps pointing at me like come here, come here, he explained Now I'm running the service but this is Whitney, so I go down. We're receiving the offering and she comes and just starts hugging me and kissing me. I'm like, 'Whitney, there's a congregation watching,' but she doesn't care. And then she says, 'Can I run up on stage?' And she runs up on the stage just being 'Illegal Whitney.'
The Illegal nickname was not widely known, as her other moniker Nipsy has been for years. She earned that nickname from her father as a small child.
But the fact that Whitney Houston was nicknamed Illegal is not as cute, as the word has a much more negative connotation because Houston engaged in illegal behavior for much of her life.
She was a known user of illegal drugs like cocaine and marijuana, and she was even arrested for illegal activity in January 2000. As she attempted to pass through an airport checkout that month, authorities found two bags of marijuana and three partially smoked joints in her luggage. She was arrested, and took a plea bargain, clearing her record five months later.
But incidents like these give an odd spin to the nickname Illegal.
Whitney Houston was found dead Feb. 11 in her hotel room bathtub at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif., at the age of 48. There were reportedly alcohol and prescription pills found in her room, which authorities say may have contributed to her death. But autopsy and toxicology results are still pending, and an official cause of death announcement could be nearly two months away.
Whitney Houston's emotional funeral took place Saturday afternoon at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J. It featured performances by top musicians like Stevie Wonder and Alicia Keys, and was closed off to the public.
She was buried Sunday at Westfield Cemetery in New Jersey.