Lionel Richie: 'Nerves' Make Nicole Thin

Lionel Richie: 'Nerves' Make Nicole Thin
Lionel and Nicole Richie
J. Graylock/JPI

updated 09/08/2006 at 03:00 PM EDT

originally published 09/08/2006 03:00PM

Nicole Richie's extreme weight loss is the result of nerves, not an eating disorder, her father, Lionel Richie, says in a 20/20 interview airing Friday night on ABC.

"Believe me," Richie says, "I've checked it out three different ways to Sunday. So, you know, I went to her, and I said, 'Okay, what is it? Is it really an eating disorder?' Because we went to a couple of doctors and the doctors said, 'Well, it's not an eating disorder. She's just – her nerves affect her in weight."

According to 20/20, Richie and Nicole were estranged for years, but their relationship is on the mend – Nicole even appears in the video for her dad's song "I Call It Love," from his new album, Coming Home.

Their estrangement, Richie says, came as a result of Nicole's heroin abuse. Richie says he and his then-wife, Diane Alexander, supported Nicole when she sought help, but at the same time, they were going through a difficult divorce that caused Nicole to rebel even further.

"They were dealing with their own thing," Nicole tells 20/20. "But I was also looking for some sort of authority, and when I realized that I could make my own decisions, then I kind of felt like I was an adult from there and that I could do whatever I wanted."

Richie reacted by cutting his daughter off from the family, including his two young children with Alexander. "He just really did not want my brother and sister to be around that kind of behavior," Nicole says. "So I was kind of cut off in that department until I got my act together."

Nicole got clean, and also told her father that she'd felt abandoned as a child when Richie was on the road during important times in her life. When Richie realized how he'd hurt his daughter, "It broke my heart," he says.

But the Richies are hoping to put all that behind them. "It's really great, and we have a really open and honest relationship," says Nicole. "I'm really happy that I'm on the end of it."
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