Famous People With Lupus Disease

Lupus doesn’t discriminate when it comes to age, ethnicity, income—even celebrity status. There have been many people who have made names for themselves in the world of entertainment, sports, and politics who happen to have lupus.

Selena Gomez close up
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin / Contributor / Getty Images

Lupus is a rare autoimmune disorder in which the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells. It can take several forms, from mild to life-threatening. It can affect any part of the body, but it most commonly affects the skin, joints, heart, lungs and other organs. Symptoms vary, but it typically causes joint pain, swelling, hair loss, weight loss, mouth sores, and scarring.

It's a chronic condition, meaning that its symptoms can last longer than six weeks and often for years. It's also a disease characterized by flare-ups and remissions, meaning that symptoms worsen, but eventually go away for a period of time before coming back again.

Celebrities With Lupus

For celebrities who are in the spotlight, constantly enduring public scrutiny, having lupus can be quite a cross to bear. But many have used their platform as a way of raising awareness and empathy.

  • Musician Seal battled discoid lupus as a childhood. His trademark facial scarring is a result of the disease.
  • Musician and actress Lady Gaga does not suffer from lupus, but she revealed that she tested borderline positive for the disease. Lupus is a hereditary disease that has a history of Lady Gaga's family.
  • R&B singer Toni Braxton was diagnosed with lupus in 2008 after collapsing while performing in Las Vegas. Doctors initially thought she suffered a minor heart attack, but blood tests revealed she has lupus.
  • J. Dilla, hip-hop producer, and rapper died at 32 due to lupus complications. His dramatic weight loss forced him to open up publicly about his health.
  • Writer Flannery O'Connor was diagnosed at 26. The disease ran in her family, as her father died from it. Although O'Connor suffered from lupus for more than a decade before her death, she didn't let the disease impact her successful writing career.
  • Actor Ray Walston died in 2001 at 87 years old after a six-year battle with lupus. Even after his diagnosis, Walston continued to act up until his death.
  • Actress and singer Selena Gomez revealed that lupus was the reason behind her hiatus from the public eye. She underwent chemotherapy and a kidney transplant to combat it.
  • Even Millie, the famous pet of former President George H. W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush, had lupus. (Barbara Bush suffered from Graves' disease, another autoimmune disease.)
2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lupus symptoms.

  2. Sciascia S, Radin M, Roccatello D, Sanna G, Bertolaccini ML. Recent advances in the management of systemic lupus erythematosus. F1000Res. 2018. doi:10.12688/f1000research.13941.1

By Jeri Jewett-Tennant, MPH
Jeri Jewett-Tennant, MPH, is a medical writer and program development manager at the Center for Reducing Health Disparities.