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Who are Nelly’s four kids? Everything you need to know

The rapper is expecting his fifth child with Ashanti

Nelly and kids
Faye James
Faye JamesSenior Editor
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Nelly is reportedly expecting his fifth child with on-and-off girlfriend Ashanti, but who are his four other children Shawn Thomas, 43, Sydney Thomas, 14, Chanell Hayes, 29, and Cornell Hayes, 24?

The renowned "Dilemma" singer, deeply values his role as a father, particularly evident in his relationship with his children. 

Born Cornell Iral Haynes Jr., Nelly first became a father with the birth of his daughter Chanelle in 1994 and his son Cornell in 1999, both from his relationship with Channetta Valentine. 

His family dynamics took a poignant turn in 2005 when he adopted his late sister Jackie Donahue's children, Shawn and Sydney Thomas, following her tragic passing from leukemia.

The family's journey was publicly shared in the 2014 BET reality TV show "Nellyville," featuring Nelly’s then-girlfriend Shantel Jackson. The series offered an insight into their blended family life, showcasing each child's individual passions and Nelly's efforts to balance his career with fatherhood.

In a 2021 interview with People, Nelly opened up about the challenges and rewards of being a single father. He spoke candidly about his role, emphasizing that while he wasn't there every day, he made significant efforts to be present for key moments in his children's lives. 

Reflecting on his sister’s death, he shared, “As bad as I felt, I can’t imagine what Sydney and Shawn were going through. It was a no-brainer to help raise them. That’s what family's there for."

Nelly’s commitment to family was evident in November 2023 when all four of his children joined him to celebrate his birthday, organized by Ashanti. 

Nelly's son Lil Shawn
Nelly's son Lil Shawn

Shawn Thomas

Nelly adopted Shawn, affectionately known as Lil' Shawn, at the age of 8. On the Tamron Hall show in September 2020, Nelly expressed his gratitude for the support of his family during that period of transition and grief.

Shawn, who appeared in "Nellyville" and has dabbled in music, has shifted his focus to his growing family, welcoming his daughter Mahalia with his girlfriend Kristia in July 2020.

Nelly with Chanelle
Nelly with Chanelle

Chanelle Hayes

Chanelle Haynes, born in 1994, has been seen at various events with Nelly, including his Black & White Ball in 2009. 

Following her business studies in Chicago, she pursued music and writes for Derrty Entertainment, her father's record label. On her birthday in February 2021, Nelly posted a heartfelt throwback photo, celebrating his "first born Daddy’s girl."

Nelly's youngest daughter Sydney© Instagram
Nelly's youngest daughter Sydney

Sydney Thomas

Sydney, also known as "Stink," was adopted after her mother's passing. Nelly spoke about the mutual support and growth they experienced together, saying on the Tamron Hall show, “We pick up the pieces, we mold each other, and we help shape each other. But those kids helped raise me as much as I helped raise them."

Nelly with his son Cornell
Nelly with his son Cornell

Cornell Haynes

Cornell Iral Haynes III, Nelly’s youngest child, shares his name with his father and grandfather. A sports enthusiast, he played varsity football in high school and has been described by Nelly as a respectful young man with a strong family bond. Chanelle expressed her pride in her younger brother on his 24th birthday in March 2023, calling him an inspiration and highlighting his creative pursuits as a producer.

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