(CBS/AP) TJ Jackson was one of Michael Jackson's favorite nephews. An heir to the family's musical talent, he is the son of Tito, one of the original Jackson Five. Largely unknown to the American public until now, he has been appointed as co-guardian of Michael's most prized treasures - his three children.
An heir to the family's musical talent, TJ is the son of Tito, one of the original Jackson Five.
Suddenly, TJ is the chosen Jackson, the one designated to work beside Michael's mother to look after the welfare of his three cousins Prince, 15, Paris, 14, and Blanket,10, who will inherit the King of Pop's fortune.
He's stepping into a sensitive situation, just days after a family feud went viral. But he appears to have only one interest at heart - the children.
"He has been very dedicated to these kids since Michael Jackson's death and he was involved with them before that," TJ's lawyer, Charles A. Schultz, said at a Thursday court hearing.
Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff, who appointed TJ to work with Katherine Jackson, said there is a strong bond between the 34-year-old T.J. and the children.
"They have a very significant relationship with TJ Jackson and they love him very much," said the judge. "There are things about his past that the kids can relate to."
Schultz agreed, saying outside court: "He had a loss early in his life of a close personal relative and they can identify with that."
In 1994, six years after his parents divorced, TJ's mother, Dolores, died in a drowning at her home swimming pool. Her boyfriend was later convicted of causing her drowning and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
When Michael Jackson died in 2009, Dr. Conrad Murray was accused of causing his death and was convicted of manslaughter. He is currently serving a four-year prison term.
Now, three years after his death, Michael's children are at the center of a familial battle and TJ's role has become even more important. Recently, Katherine Jackson was reported missing and Beckloff replaced her with TJ as the children's guardian.
TJ, who has a band with his brothers called 3T, is named Tito Joseph, the first name for his father and the middle name for his grandfather, family patriarch Joe Jackson.. Always known as TJ, he appears to have emerged as a welcome stable force in the family.
When Paris began tweeting messages of distress over the temporary disappearance of her grandmother and the battles among Michael's siblings, TJ tweeted to her: "I know it's completely unfair for them to do this to you and your brothers. We will keep trying. I love you." Added a second tweet: "Make your life an act of love."
TJ's devotion to his uncle, Michael, has been evident. At his funeral, members of the family provided loving tributes in a glossy program. TJ's entry read: "You taught me how to smile. You taught me how to dream. You taught me how to live. Uncle Michael, I will always cherish all of our special moments and blissful time together. I love you so much."
Michael's ties to TJ and his two brothers was confirmed by his will, which named them among "contingent remainder" beneficiaries, who usually gain if the main beneficiaries pass away.
Like most of the Jacksons, TJ has lived among celebrities. The Internet was ablaze this week with reports that he was the first lover of Kim Kardashian when both were in high school. There was no comment from TJ but he has acknowledged that they were close and she consoled him when his mother died.
"We became extra close when my mom passed away," TJ told People magazine in 1995 of Kardashian. "She dropped everything to be with me."
TJ married his wife, Frances, in 2007 and has three children.