10 Celebrities With Lupus

The following stars (and one celebrity dog) have been diagnosed with this chronic autoimmune disease.

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease. If you have lupus, your body's immune system attacks your tissues and organs. You may have it yourself or recognize some of the celebrities with lupus on this list, which includes a famous canine.

Read on to learn who has lupus, what it is, and how celebrities manage their symptoms.

Getty Images

10 Celebrities With Lupus

Nine celebrities and one famous dog are among those in the U.S. with lupus.

They are:

  1. Charles Kuralt
  2. Cori Broadus
  3. Flannery O'Connor
  4. J Dilla
  5. Millie, the dog of former First Lady Barbara and U.S. Pres. George H.W. Bush
  6. Nick Cannon
  7. Seal
  8. Selena Gomez
  9. Tim Raines
  10. Toni Braxton

Learn about how these celebrities noticed their lupus symptoms and got a diagnosis from healthcare providers.

Who's More Likely To Get Lupus?

There are several types of lupus. One of the most common is systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). More than 200,000 adults in the United States had SLE in 2018. SLE is becoming even more common in the U.S., perhaps because the population is becoming more diverse.

You are more likely to get SLE if you are:

  • Assigned female at birth
  • Black
  • Latina
  • Asian
  • Native American
  • Between 15 to 45 years old

No two lupus cases are precisely alike. Although lupus symptoms vary, they often include fatigue, joint pain, swelling, rashes, and fever. Lupus can harm the skin, kidneys, heart, nervous system, blood cells, and more.

While lupus is a common disease, it's also often misdiagnosed. People with lupus may wait an average of six years between noticing symptoms and getting the right diagnosis.

Charles Kuralt

Charles Kuralt

Broadcast journalist Charles Kuralt died of heart disease, a common complication of lupus, at age 62 in 1997. Healthcare providers diagnosed Kuralt with lupus just weeks before death. Kuralt could have had lupus for a long time without knowing it. 

Males may be more likely to get a lupus diagnosis later than females. They also have more complications when they do. That may be because males seek medical care less often than females.

Healthcare providers also may not be as quick to consider a lupus diagnosis because about nine out of every 10 people with lupus are female.

Cori Broadus


Even though lupus most often appears in females during their childbearing years, anybody can develop the condition.

Cori Broadus, whose father is rapper Snoop Dogg, began showing lupus symptoms at age 6 in 2005. Broadus' symptoms included skin lightening, hair loss, and dramatic weight loss.

Broadus didn't lose confidence despite hair loss. It helped that Broadus' family, including Snoop Dogg, released a line of headscarves to support Broadus and the lupus community.

“It’s just having confidence, no matter what your situation is. Sometimes I get sad about the cards I've been dealt with, but hey, this is my journey,” Broadus told BET in 2022. “It's up to me to decide what I’m going to do with it. So just living in your truth and finding the beauty in it.”

Flannery O'Connor

Author Flannery O'Connor
APIC/Getty Images

Southern novelist and short-story writer Flannery O'Connor first had a lupus flare in 1950 at age 25. In 1964, possibly due to the stress of surgery to remove a uterine fibroid, O'Connor's lupus became active after remission. O'Connor died within months.

O'Connor's father also had lupus. Close relatives of people with lupus have a higher risk of the condition than the general population.

In addition to genetics, factors that trigger the body's autoimmune attack include:

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Sunlight
  • Stress
  • Certain infections

J Dilla

J. Dilla

Rapper and hip-hop producer James Yancey, famously known as J Dilla or Jay Dee, died at 32 in 2006 after having lupus for three years.

J Dilla used a wheelchair after a lupus diagnosis, according to a Rolling Stone article released soon after the rapper's death.

The article did not mention why Yancey was using it. Lupus-related pain may have been the reason. Some of the most common lupus symptoms are muscle and joint pain with or without neck, thigh, or upper body swelling.

Millie, Barbara and George H.W. Bushes' Dog

Getty Images

Springer spaniel Millie, the dog of former First Lady and President of the United States, Barbara, and George H.W. Bush, may be one of the most famous animals with lupus. In canines, lupus presents very similarly to humans.

As with humans, healthcare providers test dogs for autoantibodies to confirm or rule out a diagnosis of lupus. Also, like humans, dogs can live healthy lives with lupus if they receive adequate treatment to quell their overactive immune systems. Millie died in 1997 at the age of 12.

Nick Cannon

nick cannon
Getty Images

In January 2012, TV personality Nick Cannon was hospitalized for kidney failure. Just a few weeks later, healthcare providers treated Cannon for life-threatening lung blood clots. They later diagnosed the entertainer with lupus nephritis.

Since then, Cannon has been outspoken about living with the disease. For example, Cannon served as the Grand Marshal for the Lupus Foundation of America’s Walk to End Lupus Now in Washington in 2014. 

“It’s therapeutic for me to be able to talk about dealing with it,” Cannon told the foundation. “Get as much education on the disease as possible. That helps build your self-esteem and your confidence. The more you know and the better you take care of yourself, the easier it is to deal with.”



Discoid lupus erythematosus, a type of lupus involving the skin, is to blame for singer Seal's facial scars. Discoid lupus causes scarring lesions on the face and scalp. Scalp lesions can cause hair loss.

Lupus can affect the skin anywhere on the body. People with discoid lupus are often sensitive to ultraviolet (UV) light and must be careful about sun exposure.

About 1% to 5% of people with discoid lupus will develop systemic lupus. Although, it's possible those people already had the disease but never received a diagnosis.

Selena Gomez

selena gomez with slicked back hair and nude makeup


Singer, actor, and producer Selena Gomez took some time out of the spotlight in 2014. At the time, tabloids widely reported that Gomez was in rehab for substance use disorder. Gomez had been undergoing treatment for lupus instead. 

"I was diagnosed with lupus, and I've been through chemotherapy. That's what my break was really about. I could've had a stroke," Gomez told Billboard in 2015. "I wanted so badly to say, 'You guys have no idea. I'm in chemotherapy.'"

People usually undergo chemotherapy to treat cancer. However, some people with lupus receive chemotherapy to slow cell reproduction and control inflammation.

A few years later, in 2017, Gomez opened up about a kidney transplant surgery. Gomez was later photographed in a bikini with a scar that appeared to be from the procedure.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body's cells mistakenly target and attack healthy cells. Sometimes, the body targets kidney cells, known as lupus nephritis.

As many as 20% of people with lupus nephritis need dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Tim Raines

Tim Raines 2008
Tim Raines -- shown at an All-Star event in 2008 -- is fifth in MLB history with 808 stolen bases. Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Professional baseball player Tim Raines sought medical attention for extreme fatigue when playing left field for the Oakland Athletics in 1999. Raines had knee and ankle swelling and was 15 pounds heavier than average. That meant Raines' body was retaining water.

Healthcare providers diagnosed the player with lupus after a kidney biopsy. The disease was attacking Raines' kidneys, throwing off the normal balance of water and salt. Raines's case was severe but improved with chemotherapy and medication.

Raines even returned to baseball, joining the Montreal Expos in 2001 and retiring in 2002 with the Florida Marlins.

Toni Braxton


Black females are two to three times more likely than White females to develop lupus. Singer Toni Braxton, diagnosed with lupus in 2008, is among them.

Corticosteroids are one of the first-line treatments for lupus. One of the side effects of corticosteroids is weight gain. However, exercise can help people with lupus manage their weight and improve their quality of life.

Braxton tweeted in November 2011: "Lupus medication actually causes most women to gain weight. But we're still fabulous! I'm going to work it on out."

Nine years later, Braxton told Prevention that a pescatarian diet, as much exercise as was comfortable, and self-care had greatly improved the condition. Braxton was much healthier than when first diagnosed.

A Quick Review

Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system mistakenly targets and attacks healthy cells. There are many people, including celebrities, living with lupus.

If untreated, lupus can affect the skin, kidneys, heart, nervous system, blood cells, and more. Catch it early and get effective treatment if you can. Start by talking with a healthcare provider as soon as you notice unexplained lupus-related symptoms.

Was this page helpful?
31 Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Izmirly PM, Parton H, Wang L, et al. Prevalence of systemic lupus erythematosus in the United States: estimates from a meta‐analysis of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Lupus RegistriesArthritis Rheumatol. 2021;73(6):991-996. doi: 10.1002/art.41632

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lupus.

  3. Duarte-García A, Hocaoglu M, Valenzuela-Almada M, et al. Rising incidence and prevalence of systemic lupus erythematosus: a population-based study over four decadesAnn Rheum Dis. 2022;81(9):1260-1266. doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2022-222276

  4. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus).

  5. Tian J, Zhang D, Yao X, Huang Y, Lu Q. Global epidemiology of systemic lupus erythematosus: a comprehensive systematic analysis and modeling studyAnn Rheum Dis. 2023;82(3):351-356. doi:10.1136/ard-2022-223035

  6. MedlinePlus. Lupus.

  7. Lupus Foundation of America. Study reveals shockingly high rates of incorrect lupus diagnosis.

  8. Akhil S, Kanth Sharma Ks, Kumar D. Male systemic lupus erythematosus: Two distinct presentationsJ Family Med Prim Care. 2021;10(10):3910. doi:10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_37_21

  9. Novak JR, Peak T, Gast J, Arnell M. Associations between masculine norms and health-care utilization in highly religious, heterosexual menAm J Mens Health. 2019;13(3):155798831985673. doi:10.1177/1557988319856739

  10. Bunyan A, Venuturupalli S, Reuter K. Expressed symptoms and attitudes toward using Twitter for health care engagement among patients with lupus on social media: Protocol for a mixed methods studyJMIR Res Protoc. 2021;10(5):e15716. doi:10.2196/15716

  11. BET. Exclusive: Snoop Dogg and wife Shante Broadus detail how their daughter Cori’s early lupus diagnosis inspired their new line of head scarves.

  12. Georgia College and State University. Flannery O'Connor and lupus.

  13. Lupus Foundation of America. Thirty-one faces of hope: Flannery O'Connor.

  14. MedlinePlus. Systemic lupus erythematosus.

  15. Barbhaiya M, Costenbader KH. Environmental exposures and the development of systemic lupus erythematosusCurr Opin Rheumatol. 2016;28(5):497-505. doi:10.1097/BOR.0000000000000318

  16. Rolling Stone. J Dilla dead at thirty-two.

  17. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lupus symptoms.

  18. Milich KA, Dong C, Keating MK, et al. Pathology in practiceJ Am Vet Med Assoc. 2022;259(S2):1-3. doi:10.2460/javma.20.08.0476

  19. Lupus Trust. Dogs with lupus.

  20. Lupus Foundation of America. Nick Cannon, lupus warrior.

  21. The New York Times. At lunch with: Seal.

  22. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Lupus and your skin: signs and symptoms.

  23. Desai K, Miteva M. Recent insight on the management of lupus erythematosus alopeciaCCID. 2021;Volume 14:333-347. doi:10.2147/CCID.S269288

  24. McDaniel B, Sukumaran S, Koritala T, et al. Discoid lupus erythematosus. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2022.

  25. Billboard. Billboard cover sneak peek: 5 ways Selena Gomez is taking charge.

  26. Wang X, Oates JC, Helke KL, et al. Camptothecin and topotecan, inhibitors of transcription factor fli-1 and topoisomerase, markedly ameliorate lupus nephritis in (Nzb × nzw)F1 mice and reduce the production of inflammatory mediators in human renal cellsArthritis Rheumatol. 2021;73(8):1478-1488. doi:10.1002/art.41685

  27. Lupus Foundation of America. Kidney transplant for lupus: Your essential questions answered.

  28. Musa R, Brent LH, Qurie A. Lupus nephritis. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2022.

  29. Society for American Baseball Research. Tim Raines.

  30. Yasir M, Goyal A, Sonthalia S. Corticosteroid adverse effects. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2022.

  31. Prevention. Toni Braxton, 52, opens up about living with lupus.

Related Articles