The Oscars were a night to remember, but for all the wrong reasons.
The world – and Will Smith's mom, Carolyn Smith – gasped in disbelief as Will walked up to the stage and slapped Chris Rock across the face during the ceremony.
Carolyn (85) said she'd never seen Will do anything like that before.
“He's a very even, people's person. That's the first time I've ever seen him go off,” she told 6 ABC of the moment.
“First time in his lifetime . . . I've never seen him do that.”
Carolyn was watching the Oscars with family and friends in the suburbs of Philadelphia where Will grew up.
“I know how he works, how hard he works. I've been waiting and waiting and waiting. When I heard the name, I was just, ‘Yes!’” she told the broadcaster of her excitement when Will was announced as the winner of the Best Actor award, his first win after three nominations in his career.
The King Richard actor shares a close bond with his mom. He shared videos on socials of them celebrating her 85th birthday earlier this year, and honoured her with a special post on Mother’s Day last year.
He also revealed in his memoir, titled Will, how he'd been scarred by his complex relationship with his father, Willard, and the violence around him while growing up.
“Within everything that I've done since then — the awards and accolades, the spotlights and the attention, the characters and the laughs — there's been a subtle string of apologies to my mother for my inaction that day,” Smith explains in his book, when as a nine-year-old, he witnessed his father punch his mother.
“For failing her in that moment. For failing to stand up to my father. For being a coward.”
Will’s younger sister, Ellen Smith (50), also shared in the interview with ABC how watching her big brother in the spotlight had opened her eyes to his struggles.
"I've had conversations with him, and it like really kind of broke my heart listening to the things he's said he had to go through to get to where he is," she said.
A day after the Oscars slapping incident, the 53-year-old actor apologised to the comedian, who'd made a joke about Will's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, being bald.
Will described his actions as “unacceptable and inexcusable”.
“Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive,” Will's statement read. “Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally.”
Despite the drama, Carolyn says she’s still bursting with pride for her boy and all his achievements.
"I am proud of him, being him."
SOURCES: 6ABC.COM; DAILYMAIL.CO.UK; PEOPLE.COM; THEGUARDIAN.COM