Joe Henry, Madonna’s sister Melanie Ciccone’s husband, released a statement saying, ‘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.’
Catholic parents brought Madonna and her five siblings up in the Detroit suburbs. Her older brother Anthony was born in 1954, two years before Madonna.
He stayed in Michigan, working on and off for their father, until he succumbed to alcoholism and homelessness, while she traveled to New York in 1978 to study dance and launch a tremendously successful career.
‘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,’ he added.
‘But trouble fades; and family remains – with hands reached across the table. Farewell, then, brother Anthony. I want to think the god your blessed mother (and mine) believed in has her there, waiting to receive you. At least for today, no one shall dissuade me from this vision,’ said Ciccone, ending his note.
Madonna’s family announced in 2017 that they will reunite with Anthony, who had been living on the streets for a while, after he had been expelled.
This occurred after he had openly speculated that his loved ones had abandoned him for several years. 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.’
Ciccone claimed at the time that he and another homeless man called Michael had been sleeping under a bridge in Michigan with nothing but a sleeping bag for company.
Since Ciccone lost his job at his father’s vineyard and winery six miles away, he has been living on the streets in the ski town of Traverse City, he said.
Anthony’s parents own a vineyard about 20 miles north of the Union St. bridge in Traverse City, where he used to sleep on the streets.
‘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 – why my sister is a multi-bazillionaire and I’m homeless on the street? Never say never. This could happen to anybody.’
He was incensed that people could find it amusing that the brother of a celebrity was forced to live in such a destitute situation. At the time, he was firm in his refusal to accept any of her money.
‘I’m not looking to get a free handout because of my sister,’ he said. ‘I’m not looking for any publicity.’ He instead relies on the generosity of soup kitchens run by local churches for food.
Ciccone said he worked in the Alaska fishing sector and as a photographer’s assistant in New York, but now he makes a living by doing odd jobs and picking through people’s trash cans for recyclables.
Madonna was aware of his predicament and offered several times to foot the bill for his treatment. If he sought professional therapy, his father also promised to reinstate him to his position.
Though he was more open to it now, he wasn’t always. In the past, he has said things like, ‘My family seem to think rehab is some kind of magic panacea for life’s ills.’
Yet, Cicconi’s life seemed to be turning around after he checked into a rehabilitation center in 2017 and returned to his family.
Dann’s House co-founder Karen McCarthy confirmed Anthony’s stay, saying, ‘Anthony loved it at Dann’s House for quite a while, and made significant improvements in his life while he was with us.
‘Dann’s House does good work with people who are vulnerable. We’ve seen tremendous, positive results.’
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