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Russell Simmons Responds to Daughter Aoki Lee Simmons, 21, Dating Vittorio Assaf, 65

Russell Simmons is making it clear he supports his daughter Aoki Lee Simmons amid her romance with restaurateur Vittorio Assaf.

“I’m not gonna kick and scream about her choices,” Russell, 66, told TMZ on Monday, April 8. “All I can do is offer my advice and unconditional love.”

Russell told the outlet that he spoke with Aoki, 21, a day before news broke that she was linked to Assaf, 65. He claimed Aoki gave him a heads-up that her romance might spark conversation online.

Aoki was spotted on Tuesday, April 2, packing on the PDA with Assaf in the Caribbean, per photos obtained by Page Six. The Serafina co-owner snapped pics of Aoki as she posed in the sand before they headed into the ocean together. Aoki shared images from her getaway via Instagram but left her beau out of the upload.

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A source confirmed the pair’s relationship to People on Friday, April 5, saying they’re “enjoying each other’s company.”

Aoki is the youngest daughter of Russell and Kimora Lee Simmons, who also share Ming Lee Simmons. After Aoki and Assaf’s romance was unveiled, the pair faced criticism for their age-gap.

Russell Simmons Responds to Daughter Aoki Dating Older Man
Johnny Nunez/WireImage

Amid the chatter, Russell shared a sweet message for Aoki. “Throw back from last fathers day nyc …bode bikram yoga express class .. vegan lunch cryotherapy vitamin drip … all around amazing day ❤️ @aokileesimmons love you always,” he captioned the post via Instagram on Saturday, April 6.

Kimora, 48, for her part, made waves for a different reaction. In a since-deleted video, Kimora reposted a mother panda pulling away her baby cup with her teeth and wrote, “On my last nerve right now!”

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The family previously made headlines in June 2023 when Ming, 24, uploaded a tribute for Kimoa on Father’s Day and didn’t address Russell. (Kimora and Russell were married from 1998 to 2009.)

Russell Simmons Responds to Daughter Aoki Dating Older Man
Russell Simmons, Aoki Lee Simmons. Getty Images (2)

After Ming’s post, Russell shared a cryptic message that implied Kimora was to blame for his rocky relationship with his kids. The next day, Aoki responded to the claims by sharing a series of since-deleted text messages and video chats with her dad.

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Kimora came to her daughters’ defense, calling out her ex-husband while making a subtle reference to his several sexual misconduct allegations from 2018. (Russell has denied the claims.)

Russell subsequently took to Instagram to publicly apologize to Ming and Aoki. “God is testing you a little bit, it’s OK, be strong,” he wrote. “They are called growing pains … as you know, we grow through adversity and struggle … you read my books and heard me preach your whole childhood … reach back to old lessons and remember to remember ‘smile and breathe’ ❤️ ‘smile and breathe’ … you are the watchers of this world … so let go … be at ease … God is driving and he is working on you ❤️. DEEPLY sorry for being frustrated and yelling … but know this … there are no conditions … for sure I love you guys more than I love myself.”

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