Mother famous for smacking rioting son now homeless after fire

BALTIMORE, MD (WCMH) — The woman once dubbed Baltimore’s ‘Mom of the Year’ says she’s now homeless after an accidental fire ripped through her family’s home.

Toya Graham became famous during the April 2015 riots. The single mother of six was seen pulling her son away from the riots and repeatedly slapping him in the head and screaming at him. Graham said she did it because she didn’t want her son “to be a Freddie Gray.”

Toya Graham during the Baltimore riots.
Toya Graham during the Baltimore riots.

That same son, Michael, 17, was home Saturday afternoon frying chicken tenders when the fire broke out, WBFF-TV reports.

“I had stepped away to the bathroom real quick,” said Michael. “I came back and it was smoking. So, I tried to come over here and take the pot. But then it started bursting out in flames. So, my first instinct was just to grab some water and try to put it out.”

Throwing water on the grease fire only made the blaze worse. Michael, who was home alone at the time, then called 911.

No one got hurt.

“I’m I upset with my son … yes. But he’s alive. At the end of the day, I want him to know that I’m glad it wasn’t worse,” Toya told WBFF-TV.

The fire gutted the kitchen, and Toya says she doesn’t have renter’s insurance.

“You try to hold on because you try to do everything, you try to be strong for your children. You try, but this is a lot,” Toya said.

The family has set up a GoFundMe page for donations to pay for repairs. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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