To many, Bob Marley is the greatest reggae musician of all time. Perhaps one could quibble with other names here or there, but the fact of the matter is, he and his songs have done more to promulgate the sound of his home country of Jamaica than any other artist, bar none.
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Marley, who was born in Jamaica on February 6, 1945, sadly passed away at just 36 years old in Miami, Florida. He was diagnosed prior to his death with a rare form of cancer. He decided not to have the toe, where the cancer was first found, amputated, and later passed away from the illness.
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Today, though, his songs live on. They’re thriving well after his 1981 death. Songs like “Buffalo Soldier,” “No Woman, No Cry” and many more ring out as much today as when they were written in the middle of the 20th century.
Here, we wanted to look at another side of the singer’s life that has lived on past his time on the planet: his family.
Marley married Rita Anderson in Kingston, Jamaica, on February 10, 1966. Together, they had four children. He also adopted two of her children from prior relationships. Marley had several other children with other women, as well.
Today, Marley’s official website says he has 11 kids. Let’s dive into each below.
Born in 1964, Sharon is Rita’s daughter from a prior relationship. Bob adopted her when he and Rita got together.
She is a Jamaican singer and dancer and a member of the group Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers with her younger sister and brother. Together, they won three Grammy Awards. The band dissolved around 2002. Sharon continues to perform her own work and she curates the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston, Jamaica.
The first-born daughter of Bob and Rita, Cedella, born in 1967, is also the mother of Skip Marley (more on him below). Cedella was also in the Melody Makers, winning three Grammy Awards. After that band broke up, she began a career in fashion, which has led her to design the uniforms for the 2012 Jamaican Olympic team and stints with Puma and Barneys New York.
Son of Bob and Rita, David “Ziggy” Marley was born in 1968. He is a singer, songwriter, musician, and actor. He led the band, the Melody Makers, until 2002. That group released eight studio albums. After they broke up, he began a solo career, revealing eight more albums. He’s won eight Grammy Awards to date and a Daytime Emmy. He wrote the theme song for the cartoon Arthur and even released his own comic book.
Born in 1972, Stephen is the son of Bob and Rita. He’s an eight-time Grammy Award-winner, winning the awards as both a solo artist and a producer, earning several for working with his brother Damian and brother Ziggy. His 2011 album, Revelation Pt. 1—The Root of Life won the Grammy for Best Reggae Album in 2012. He also worked with artists Steven Tyler, Erykah Badu, The Roots, and more.
Born in 1972, Robbie is the son of Bob and Pat Williams. Much of his life is private. Though it is known that he enjoys graphic arts.
Born in 1972, Rohan is a businessman and former college football player. He is the son of Bob and then 16-year-old Janet Hunt. He is also the father of model Selah Marley and Nico Marley (more on them below). Rohan, after Bob’s death, lived with Bob’s mother, Cedella Booker. Today, Rohan has five kids with legendary musician Lauryn Hill.
Born in 1973, Karen’s parents are Bob and Janet Bowen. She has become a fashion designer after leading much of her life outside the public eye. She has an eco-friendly line with her brand, By Karen Marley.
Born in 1974, she is the daughter of Rita and a man named Ital. She directs the Marley Resort and Spa, a former family home turned into a luxury destination in the Bahamas.
Born in 1975, Julian is the son of Bob Marley and Lucy Pounder. He is a reggae musician, songwriter, and producer. To date, he has received two Grammy Award nominations and, like his dad, he is a devout Rastafarian, a religion developed in Jamaica that follows an adherence to God, or Jah.
Born in 1976, Ky-Mani is the son of Bob and Jamaican table tennis champ Anita Belnavis. His name means “Adventurous Traveler.” He earned a Grammy Award nomination in 2001 for his album, Many More Roads.
A four-time Grammy Award-winner, Damian is the son of Bob and Cindy Breakspeare, a former Miss World and notable jazz musician. He’s worked with the likes of Nas, Mick Jagger, Mariah Carey, and more.
While Bob Marley’s website recognizes the 11 children above, there are other people who have claimed to be the legendary musician’s offspring.
Makeda, born in 1981, is the daughter of Yvette Crichton. Though she was born after Bob’s death, she lists herself as one of his kids. And Imani Carole, born in 1963, is the daughter of Cheryl Murray. But she also has claimed to be Bob’s child.
Bob has several grandkids and three of them are noteworthy in the entertainment industry. Skip Marley is a musician, Nico Marley is an American football player and Selah Marley is a model.
Skip is a Jamaican singer, the son of Cedella Marley and David Minto. He received two Grammy nominations and an MTV Video Music Award nomination.
Nico played college football at Tulane University and was later signed by the Washington D.C. professional football team as an undrafted free agent in 2017. He is the son of Rohan Marley, who also played college football.
Selah, who recently got into a bit of hot water for wearing a “White Lives Matter” t-shirt from Kanye West’s clothing line, is the daughter of Lauryn Hill and Rohan Marley. She has walked the runway for Chanel and starred in campaigns for Dior, Calvin Klein, and Michael Koss. She’s been featured in Vogue and Maxim.
Photo by Pete Still/Redferns