In Hollywood history, the name Travolta resonates far and wide. Yet, one narrative remains less known — the story of Jett Travolta, the eldest son of John Travolta and Kelly Preston. Born amidst the glitz and glamour of the film industry, Jett’s life was marked by personal struggle, living with autism, and facing significant health challenges from a young age.
Jett came into the world in 1992, the firstborn of actors Travolta and Preston. From his earliest years, Jett confronted significant health challenges. Hospitalized at 15 months old, he was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease, a rare condition in children that involves inflammation of the blood vessels.
His medical journey took another challenging turn when he began experiencing seizures at the age of two. It was later revealed that Jett was on the autism spectrum. John Travolta testified in court that Jett would have seizures every five to 10 days, each one lasting 45 seconds to a minute, after which he typically slept for 12 hours.
Studies suggest that up to 25% of children with autism also grapple with a seizure disorder, and the combination of autism with a seizure disorder can statistically increase the risk of a fatal outcome. Unfortunately, this risk became a reality for Jett.
How Did Jett Travolta Die?
In January 2009, during a family holiday at the luxurious Old Bahama Bay Hotel on Grand Bahama Island, tragedy struck. Jett, then 16 years old, suffered a seizure after hitting his head on a bathtub. Despite the immediate response, including CPR performed by his father, Jett was found unconscious by a maid and passed away shortly after.
The subsequent period was undeniably distressing for the Travolta family, further complicated by a $25 million extortion case. John was initially suspected of wrongdoing concerning his son’s treatment. Tarino Lightbourne, the ambulance driver who attended to Jett, and his lawyer Pleasant Bridgewater, were accused of threatening to release alleged evidence of Travolta’s supposed misconduct. The case concluded in a mistrial due to an error by a Barbadian politician.
The Aftermath of Jett’s Passing
In the face of this profound loss, the Travolta family found a way to honor Jett’s memory. They established the Jett Travolta Foundation in 2009, a charity that provides support and assistance for children with special needs. Their commitment to this cause serves as a tribute to Jett’s life and a beacon of hope for other families navigating similar circumstances.
The family expanded with the birth of Benjamin, Jett’s younger brother, born a year after his passing.
The Travoltas were dealt another blow when Kelly Preston passed away in July 2020 after a battle with breast cancer. John Travolta continues to remember his loved ones, paying tribute to Jett on what would have been his 30th birthday in 2022 and Kelly, who had her second death anniversary three months after Jett.