Gavin Arvizo was just ten years old when he was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer in his kidney, which was spreading to his other organs.
He and Michael Jackson first met during one of Arvizo’s stays at a hospital, The Independent reported in 2005. How Jackson heard of Arvizo is unclear.
Jackson began sending him gifts, and they became friends who spoke on the phone regularly. After Arvizo’s cancer treatments were over, Jackson invited him and his whole family to the Neverland Ranch and even sent a limousine to pick them up, according to the Daily Beast.
Two years later, a then 12-year-old Arvizo, explained to British journalist Martin Bashir during the filming of his 2003 documentary “Living With Michael Jackson” that he met Jackson when he was 10 when “he had been told he had been dying of cancer.” Jackson has said that his relationship with the boy was an effort to “heal” him, SPIN reported.
Arvizo’s sister Davellin said in the documentary that the doctors told Arvizo’s parents to plan for his funeral. However, she said her brother miraculously not only survived but he experienced growth spurts during chemotherapy.
“I went from 4’10 to 5’4,” Gavin expressed.
Davellin, who enthusiastically stood in Jackson’s house with her siblings for the making of the documentary, later testified against Michael Jackson during his 2005 trial along with another sibling, according to the Daily Beast.
In "Living With Michael Jackson," Gavin could be seen holding hands with Jackson and they spoke about how there’s nothing wrong with sharing a bed with children if you are an adult.
“According to Gavin, it was Michael’s friendship and support that helped him beat the cancer,” Bashir said. “They’ve remained close friends ever since.”
The cancer was “all gone,” according to Jackson at the time. ”They told him he was gonna die.”
When the filmmaker asked Arvizo what it is about Jackson that makes him connect with children he responded, “Because he’s really a child at heart. He acts just like a child. He just knows how a child is. He knows what a child thinks. I think that you necessarily have to be a child just because society says 18 and up you're an adult. That doesn’t really matter. You’re an adult when you want to be one.”
Watch The Jury Speaks: Michael Jackson on Oxygen, Saturday, March 9 at 9/8c
But, Arvizo soon changed his tune and accused Jackson of molesting him. The film contributed to the investigation of Jackson’s behavior. The entertainer was soon charged with partaking in lewd and lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14 based on allegations Arvizo would subsequently make that Jackson molested him. Jackson' was taken to trial in 2005, yet was acquitted. He has maintained, and his estate has continued to maintain, his innocence.
Gavin Arvizo got married to a teacher and a minister’s daughter in 2013, according to the Daily Beast. Before getting married, he worked several jobs at a time and while putting himself through college. He never accepted any lucrative offers to sell his story to tabloids and shows despite being depicted as money-hungry during the 2005 trial, according to the report.
“Leaving Neverland,” a controversial new movie set to air on HBO March 3 and 4, has once again brought Jackson’s molestation allegations into the limelight. The Jackson estate vehemently denies the allegations put forth in the documentary. In a statement they have called it “another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson,” in addition to being “just another rehash of dated and discredited allegations.”
His estate is also attempting to sue HBO for $100 million for disparagement, citing a 1992 contract with the entertainer.
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