11 years ago, John Travolta lost his son Jett. This week, he would have turned 28.

On January 2, 2009, John Travolta and his wife Kelly Preston lost their teenage son, Jett Travolta.

Jett, who was just 16 years old, suffered a seizure at his family’s holiday home in the Bahamas.

After falling and hitting his head in the bathtub, the 16-year-old was found unconscious on the bathroom floor.

The teenager, who was the eldest child of Travolta and Preston, was pronounced dead after being taken to the Rand Memorial Hospital.

Now, 11 years on from his sudden death, Travolta and Preston are celebrating what would’ve been Jett’s 28th birthday.


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Happy Birthday Jetty! We love you! ❤️

A post shared by  John Travolta (@johntravolta) on

Posting to Instagram overnight, Travolta shared a photo of his son to commemorate his birthday.

“Happy Birthday Jetty! We love you!” he shared.

Preston, 57, also shared a photo alongside her son, writing: “Happy Birthday to our sweetest Jetty, we love you!”


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Happy Birthday to our sweetest Jetty, we love you!! ????✨

A post shared by  Kelly Preston (@therealkellypreston) on


In recent years, both Travolta and Preston have been open about the struggle of losing their son.

Speaking in an interview in 2014, Travolta described losing Jett as the “worst thing that’s ever happened in my life”.

“The truth is, I didn’t know if I was going to make it,” the actor said.

“Life was no longer interesting to me, so it took me a lot to get me better.”

In an interview with Lifetime, Preston echoed Travolta’s words.

“Nobody should have to lose a child. It’s unfathomable,” she said.

“But I’m here to say that you can get through it. You can live again. You can want to live again.”

The couple, who have been married since 1991, often share tributes to their son on social media.


On World Autism Awareness Day, Preston posted a heartfelt tribute to Jett on Instagram, writing: “To my sweet love, Jett… you are in our hearts forever. I send love to all of the beautiful autistic children and the wonderful people who love them”.


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A painting a fan made of my son Jett! Happy birthday my son I love you!

A post shared by  John Travolta (@johntravolta) on


Jett was the eldest of Travolta and Preston’s three children.

As of the time of publishing, their daughter Ella is 20 years old, and son Benjamin, who never met his older brother, is now nine.

Prior to his death, Jett had regularly suffered seizures and, as a two-year-old, had been diagnosed with a heart condition, Kawasaki disease. He had also been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

In the period following Jett’s death, Travolta previously said the Church of Scientology, of which he has been a member since 1975, really helped him during the most difficult grieving period.

The 66-year-old said the controversial organisation “never left our sides for two years”.

“I don’t know if I would have made it through without their support.”

Almost two years after the loss of their son, the couple welcomed a third child, Benjamin, in November 2010, who gave them a “renewed spirit and purpose”.

“He’s brought us a new beginning. He’s the best gift we could possibly have,” the couple told Hello magazine in 2011.

John Travolta son
John Travolta and Kelly Preston with Ella and Jett. Image: Getty.

John Travolta's other big loss.

Jett's sudden death wasn't the first time the Saturday Night Fever actor had experienced the loss of a loved one.

In March 1977, his partner at the time, actress Diana Hyland, died of breast cancer in his arms.

"I felt the breath go out of her," he told People at the time.

Travolta had met Hyland on the set of The Boy in the Plastic Bubble. Although she played his mother and was 18 years his senior, the pair soon formed a romantic bond.

Diana Hyland john travolta
Diana Hyland with her co-star and boyfriend John Travolta. Image: Getty

"I have never been more in love with anyone in my life," he told People in 1977.

"I thought I was in love before, but I wasn’t. From the moment I met her I was attracted. We were like two maniacs talking all the time on the set of Bubble. After a month it became romantic."

Hyland had been earlier diagnosed with breast cancer and had undergone a double mastectomy two years prior. She died of the disease at just 41 years old.

Travolta married Jeremy Maguire actress Kelly Preston in 1991, and the pair welcomed Jett in 1992.

Feature Image: Instagram / @johntravolta.

This post was originally published on April 8, 2019, and updated on April 15, 2020.