What happened to Sabrina Greenlee?

What happened to Sabrina Greenlee?

Warning: This article contains mention of sexual and domestic abuse as well as other very sensitive topics, please proceed with caution.

Today, Sabrina Greenlee’s story is an inspiration to many, despite being the victim of a horrific attack, she was able to overcome all of the challenges life threw at her and now stands proudly atop a mountain of achievements.

Among those achievements includes founding a nonprofit organization called S.M.O.O.T.H, which is dedicated to helping women affected by domestic violence. She also just released a memoir of her life and the numerous hurdles she had to overcome to get to where she is now. As well as that, she’s also known to many as the mother of Tennessee Titans wide receiver, DeAndre Hopkins.

There’s no denying that Greenlee has been greatly successful, showing a storing spirit and great tenacity. She withstood a pretty difficult childhood, but was able to do relatively well for herself before the attack in 2002 that would change the course of her life forever.

Sabrina Greenlee’s early life

From an early age her life was rife with hardships, more than most people would expect to experience in a lifetime. According to an article from The Root, she was sexually assaulted at the age of ten by someone she knew as Uncle Rev, and although she told her mother and grandmother about the assault, her voice was ignored.

At the age of 14, Greenlee would experience the devastating loss of her 12-year-old brother, who got into a car with their uncle, who was drunk at the time. The uncle would crash the car soon after pulling off, and she found her brother and held him in her arms as he took his last breaths. The incident led Greenlee’s mother to emotionally check out as a parent to her remaining children.

Sabrina would go on to find herself pregnant at 16, and married at 18 to an abusive husband. Later in life, she would meet Steve Hopkins, whom she described as her “soulmate.” Steve was a drug kingpin, and at one point was facing 102 years in prison — but despite his criminal vocation, Greenlee says he never abused her. The couple were involved in a car accident shortly after the birth of their son, DeAndre, and Hopkins ultimately died due to a head injury.

The attack

Screengrab via The Pivot Podcast/YouTube

Facing so many hardships at such a young age, it seemed like life had already thrown everything it had at her. However, in 2002, Greenlee was involved in an attack that would prove to be one of the biggest challenges she had faced yet. Unbeknownst to her, Greenlee had begun seeing a man who was already in a relationship with another woman. The other woman attacked Greenlee, throwing a combination of lye and bleach over her face.

The deadly concoction is capable of causing severe burns, and so Greenlee’s ex and a store attendant at a nearby gas station poured water over her to try and neutralize the chemicals. Greenlee told an interviewer for The Root, that although her ex took her to the gas station, he ended up leaving her there to die.

Of course, she didn’t die, although she was put into a medical coma for about a month. After the incident, she was left with facial scarring, and she also had to undergo surgery to try and save her eyes. She had more than 30 surgeries on each eye, according to an article from Issuu.com, although the procedures weakened her already damaged eyes, and ended up leading to a permanent detachment of her retinas. She still has 60% vision in her left eye, but is completely blind in her right.

The aftermath of the attack

The woman who committed the attack was sentenced to 20 years in prison. However, Greenlee says that after her traumatic experience she was left feeling incredibly low, saying that she would stay in her room and only ever left for her eye appointments. 

“During the course of going back and forth trying to regain my sight I literally stayed in my room for three and a half years.”

It got so bad that at one point she even planned to throw herself in front of oncoming traffic, but thankfully her son, DeAndre, had followed her out of the house and stopped her before she could reach the road.


Things have slowly gotten better for Greenlee since then, and she has gone on to successfully rebuild her life founding S.M.O.O.T.H Inc., which helps connect women with counseling, financial, and legal aid, among other things. Her website says she “strives to dismantle the culture of silence surrounding Domestic Abuse and Adversity,” and she’s certainly done a great deal in achieving that goal so far.

Greenlee also regularly appears in numerous media outlets to give talks, and even received the 2020 Houston humanitarian award for her efforts.

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