A Complete Relationship Timeline: Keke Palmer And Darius Jackson

Here’s everything we know about Keke Palmer and Darius Jackson, from welcoming their first child to their biggest moments.

Rebecca Sapp / Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Keke Palmer, 29, is known to keep her love life private. That was the case until her relationship with Darius Jackson. 

Fans grew up watching Palmer as she made her mark in the entertainment industry with movies like Akeelah and the Bee and Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail and in TV shows like Nickelodeon's True Jackson, VP. They have followed along on her journey from child stardom to becoming a multi-hyphenate talent—and now in her new role as a mom. 

Jackson, on the other hand, has kept a low profile for the most part. He is known as the brother of Insecure star Sarunas J. Jackson, and is a former football player at Fresno State University, where he received a scholarship. As he transitioned from school to adulthood, he now works as a fitness instructor and is an internet personality. He is also involved in entertainment as he starred in Palmer's KeyTV sitcom Sportfan

The pair's relationship dates back to 2021 when they met at one of Issa Rae's Insecure after-parties, which Diddy hosted. The two hit it off after Palmer’s best friend suggested she get him a drink. "I walked up to him. My best friend said, 'You should just say something to him,'" Palmer said on The Terrell Show

The twosome’s romance continued, and in 2022 she announced she was expecting her first child during a Saturday Night Live monologue. "People have been in my comments saying, 'Keke's having a baby,’ ‘Keke's pregnant,' and I want to set the record straight—I am," she said, showing off her baby bump. 

In February, Palmer and Jackson became first-time parents to a baby boy named Leo. 

The couple's relationship seemed to be going strong, and they appeared to be madly in love. "Not tryna be the person but… I love my man.(PERIODT!)," she tweeted in July. But it wasn't until recently that the couple's relationship made headlines after Darius criticized Palmer on social media for the outfit she wore to Usher's My Way: The Las Vegas Residency

After fans put Jackson through the ringer on social media for his comments, it was unclear whether or not the couple were still together. Following what seemed to be a brief reconciliation in September, the pair are now officially seperated with Palmer filing a restraining order against Jackson. Here is a complete timeline of the couple from their first meet-up to their recent legal dispute.

Keke Palmer meets Darius Jackson at an Insecure after-party 

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Date: May 2021

Following her guest appearance on HBO's Insecure show as Kira, Palmer attended Issa Rae's after-party hosted by Diddy. The actress spilled the tea on how she approached Jackson for the first time, shooting her shot. "I had just done the show, and his brother worked on the show," she said, referring to Sarunas J. Jackson.  

"I walked up to him. My best friend was like, 'You should just say something to him. You should ask if he wants a drink,’" Palmer said, "Here's the thing. He's very fine. But he has that personality where it's like, 'Do you know you're fine?'"

"When I walked up to him, I was not looking for love. I was looking for a roster, you understand? And so I was like, 'He fits the physical bill.' But when I talked to him...he was such a sweetheart. I think what I saw was that he's just a sweet guy."

Keke and Darius make it Instagram official

Date: August 2021

Palmer hinted at her romance with Jackson on Instagram with a subtle PDA flick. The Nope star posted a collage of photos taken at her 28th birthday party featuring family, friends, and Jackson. Fans spotted Keke sharing a kiss with the then-mystery man in one of the photos. 

"It's the details for me," she clued in the caption. "Nobody was on they phones, we had that before MySpace feeling… I'm so happy. Awesome Birthday, so grateful." 

The couple made their public debut 

Date: October 2021

After five months of dating, the twosome made their public debut. A photographer took an adorable photo of the pair as Keke sat in Darius's lap while his arms wrapped around her. 

In a conversation with Bustle, Keke revealed that her "boss behavior" prompted her to go public with Jackson, saying she does "whatever the hell" she wants. "This is the happiest I've ever felt with someone,” she said. “So why would I go out of my way to hide this person? That's a lot more work than just living in my life and being in my life. You know what I'm saying?"

The pair attended NBA All-Star weekend together

Date: February 2022  

After the public debut, the duo was spotted together at the 2022 NBA All-Star in Cleveland, Ohio. Palmer and Jackson were all smiles as they sat courtside at the NBA x HBCU classic game. 

Keke announced pregnancy as she hosted SNL  

Date: December 2022

Palmer revealed she was expecting her first child when she hosted Saturday Night Live. She unveiled her big news during her monologue. "There's some rumors going around. People have been in my comments saying, 'Keke's having a baby,' 'Keke's pregnant,' and I want to set the record straight—I am," she said, showing off her baby bump.

"I gotta say, though, it is bad when people on the internet spread rumors about you y'all, but it's even worse when they're correct. I mean, like, I was trying so hard to keep it on the down low 'cause I got a lot of stuff going on, you know?" she joked. "But honestly, this has been the biggest blessing, and I am so excited. Guys, I'm going to be a mom."

Keke shared a sweet message for her boyfriend’s birthday

Date: January 2023

Palmer shared a heartwarming tribute on Instagram celebrating her boyfriend’s birthday. "I can easily write long emotional posts for all my girls birthdays, but it's so cringy writing a birthday post for you because the love is so sacred," she captioned a never-before-seen video of herself admiring Jackson in the car. "It almost feels asinine to try to share or give a glimpse into something that only we could understand. I can share most things so easily, but not you," she explained. "Happiest Birthday to the best Aquarius, Darius, my guy! Let's go Birds!" 

Keke revealed how she found out she was pregnant

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Date: February 2023

The mom-to-be recalled the moment she found out she was pregnant during an Instagram Live.  "I always told myself definitely by 28 I would love to be pregnant, or at least focusing on something like this. I was like, open to it,” she said, adding that she felt like she possibly could be pregnant. “So, I took the test, and it came back negative. I didn't have the lines on there, so I just threw it in the trash.” 

“And so I go out with Nora and we're at like, this semi-casual business dinner, but we're having some little sake and enjoying ourselves, and all of a sudden, I get a text from Darius, and he says, 'When did you take this?' And it's a picture of the pregnancy test and it's positive."

"I didn't wait long enough! And I'm like, 'I took that earlier today, like literally just some hours before I left out,” she added. “‘Well, you better get to be drinking water in your sight. ‘Cause I'm buying 10 of these things right now. You take them all when you get home,'" she recalled Darius' message at the time. "Soon as I come home, I, and I'm also not kidding, as soon as I come home, me and him, I do 10 of 'em back-to-back, back-to-back, to back, to back-to-back. All positive."

She revealed that her pregnancy was not accidental. "My baby was definitely planned. It wasn't like we sat on the chalkboard and wrote some stuff out, but…we were definitely like, moving in the vibe of definitely no surprise.” 

Palmer gave birth to a baby boy 

Date: February 2023

The pair welcomed their son, Leodis Andrellton Jackson, on Feb. 25. Keke took to her Instagram to announce Leo's arrival and insight into what the 48 hours entailed for new parents. In the caption, Keke explained each picture she posted, writing, "Hey Son!!!! Number one, only 48 hours of being parents!" she wrote, hinting at her and Darius' silly faces in the first pic. "Number two, Darius always made me playlists when we first started dating, ‘Someone’ by El Debarge was a favorite. We became each other's someone and made someone, look at God! Number three, The baby love Rolling Ray, cause purrr," referring to her vocals in the family’s first car ride. 

"Number four, 'I'm not hiding the world from my son, I'm hiding my son from the world," she joked. "Number five, I'm just playing, my baby face is on this slide. Number 6, and this slide." 

She topped off the caption, penning, "Born during Black History Month, with a name to match! Leodis Andrellton Jackson, welcome to the world, baby Leo." 

Keke said she’s “grateful” for Jackson and called him an “amazing partner”

Date: April 2023

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Palmer spoke on how well Jackson was adjusting to fatherhood. "I guess I don't know what I would've expected, but I think he's just so attentive," the Hustlers star said. "I guess that's what you want all fathers to be. But it's even more than I expected it. I just really am grateful to have such an amazing partner to do this with."

She implied that his character was why she trusted him to be a great father. "I think that is obviously why we had the kid together," she added. "I saw way before that he had the dedication, the patience, and the discipline to be an amazing dad, and that's why I wanted to have my baby with him."

The couple made their red carpet debut with their son

Date: April 2023

Toward the end of April, the twosome and their son attended the closing night screening of Palmer's film Big Boss at the 2023 Atlanta Film Festival and posed for photos alongside baby Leo. Before the event, Darius posted a video of Palmer twerking on his Instagram story. As Keke dances, Darius says, "Y'all see this? Y'all this work?" he rhetorically asks as Keke giggles. 

Palmer praised Jackson on Father’s Day

Date: June 2023

The singer shared a sweet tribute to Jackson as he celebrated his first Father's Day. The video shows snippets of recordings of his and his son's adorable moments together. "Happy Father's Day to the best dad ever! (don't tell my dad I said that)," she joked in the caption.

"Congrats Mr. Man, Leodis and I are so very happy to have such a fun, kind, responsible, dependable, and supportive man like you in our lives," she wrote. "It's so wonderful to see the kind of loving father you are, but I'm not surprised. You wanted to be a dad maybe more than I wanted to be a mother, and that's saying a lot because I've always wanted to be a mother. I love this for us, but I really love it for Leo!"

"God bless you, darling, thank you for being in our lives. We love you," she signed off. 

Jackson publicly criticized Palmer on Twitter

Date: July 2023

At the beginning of July, Palmer's boyfriend had social media in a frenzy as he made unwarranted comments about Palmer's outfit on Twitter. In his tweet, Jackson criticized the mother of his child’s outfit choice as she attended an Usher My Way: The Las Vegas Residency concert. 

The video he shared features Usher singing "There Goes My Baby" to Keke as she wraps her arms around him, enjoying the moment. She joined in on the entertainment and sang the song with him. 

She wore a sheer dotted black dress with a strapless thong bodysuit underneath, highlighting her figure. "It's the outfit tho… you a mom," Jackson quoted on the viral video of the interaction. 

His tweet caused quite a stir, prompting him to defend his actions, saying, "We live in a generation where a man of the family doesn't want the wife & mother to his kids to showcase booty cheeks to please others & he gets told how much of a hater he is," he wrote. "This is my family & my representation. I have standards & morals to what I believe. I rest my case." 

Fans did not hold back as they crucified Jackson for his comments about the beloved actress. Many fans mentioned that he posed shirtless on Instagram and posted the aforementioned video of Keke twerking–– contradicting his tweets.

A day earlier, things seemed to be going well between the new parents. Keke tweeted about her love for him on July 4, saying, "Not tryna be the person but… I love my man.(PERIODT!)"

Not tryna be the person but… I love my man.(PERIODT!) 😭

— Keke Palmer (@KekePalmer) July 4, 2023
Twitter: @KekePalmer

In response to fans' harassment, Darius deactivated his Twitter account. Furthermore, the couple unfollowed each other on Instagram, sparking breakup rumors. 

Keke responded to Darius' comments with a hilarious TikTok video


Ayeeeeeee get into this mixxxx

♬ original sound - CasaDi

After days of silence, Keke seemingly responded to Darius' public comments with a TikTok, possibly hinting that she is single. In the video, Palmer hits a dance routine to her virtual audio smashup, saying, "You ain't stopping what's going on with me, sweetheart. So if you gon act up, I'm bouta link up." 

In the Shaderoom's comment section, Palmer popped in to say, "I'm very unserious. I just liked the mix!"

In another video, the actress was seen singing a lullaby to baby Leo as he sat her in her lap. "One thing is certain, and one thing is true, I'M A MOTHA, through and through," she captioned the video. "’IM A MOTHA’ and ‘Stevie to the bullshit’ shirts available NOW! Link in bio." 

Neither party has confirmed the status of their relationship as of yet.

Jackson admitted holding Palmer to a “perfect standard” 

Date: July 2023

Palmer's boyfriend doubled down about the struggles of being in a high-profile relationship on Baby, This Is Keke. The interview was previously recorded before Jackson's rant about Palmer's outfit choice. He admitted holding Palmer accountable to being a "perfect standard" after their public debut. 

"At first, it definitely was hard because it could all be very overwhelming. It was definitely overwhelming and intense at first," he stated. "It was," Palmer chimed in agreement.

He added that Palmer feels the pressure to be "perfect" as she maneuvers being in the spotlight. "And so, it really confused me and infiltrated my mind because not only did I have to hold myself to that perfect standard. I was also holding you to a perfect standard as well," he said. 

"So any moment of flaw on my side or on your side, it was World War III because it's like…," Palmer added. "And now the world sees us." 

Keke expressed the feeling of society's pressure to share her relationship with the world. "It's a lot of pressure because we are very proud, and there are things that we want to share… At the same time, we do want to be able to maintain the privacy of our relationship, and I feel like we've done such a good job at being able to do that," she said.

Palmer freestyle's "Bossy" at Broccoli City Festival, possibly hinting a breakup.

Date: July 2023

Keke had some things to get off her chest during her Broccoli City Festival performance. The star performed "Bossy" from FOX's hit show Star. As she performed, she freestyled the lyrics shouting out her son and possibly throwing shade at Jackson. "Lil booties matter, my son gave me some ass," she rapped in viral video. "I'm my own boss, and I got my own cash/ I don't need a n*gga, only thing I need's a bag." The two have not been spotted together or spoken on Jackson's comments. 

Jackson denies he is “moving on” from Palmer

Date: August 2023

Following Jackson’s controversial tweet, his relationship status with Keke remained in question. 

People reported that Jackson had “moved on'' from his relationship with Palmer in August. But the news was deemed far from the truth as the fitness instructor stated, “I haven’t spoken to anyone about anything or gave permission to anyone to speak for me. So all these sites & post about me making any type of statement is false,” in a now-deleted tweet. 

Palmer responds to breakup rumors

Date: September 2023

The Hollywood star appeared on the Today show, and had a simple response to all the rumors: “I’m going to take a page out of Beyoncé’s book—mind y’all’s business.” 

When asked if she was happy, Palmer responded, “Yes, life is good. I have nothing but gratitude, honestly. Seriously,” not giving too much insight on whether the two were officially together. 

Palmer files for sole custody of her son and a restraining order against Jackson

Date: November 2023

In early November, social media went into a frenzy after news broke that Palmer filed for sole custody of her 8-month-old son, Leo, along with a restraining order against Jackson

In documents obtained by People, Palmer claims that Jackson emotionally and physically abused her throughout their relationship. She recalled several incidents throughout their relationship where Jackson allegedly manipulated her, struck her, etc. 

The statement reads: “Darius trespassed into my home without my knowledge or consent, threatened me, then physically attacked me—lunging for my neck, striking me, throwing me over the couch, and stealing my phone when I told him I was going to call the police.” 

Palmer attached pictures of footage from her home security system that captured the fight on camera, which were later released to the public. 

She recalled other incidents throughout their time together that beckoned concern regarding her and her son’s safety. “Many instances of physical violence, including striking and grabbing me around the neck, descriptions of Darius destroying my personal property, including diaries and prescription eyeglasses, throwing my belongings into the street, throwing my car keys to prevent me from driving away, hitting me in front of our son, spewing profanities about me to our son, threatening to kill himself with a gun if I left him, harassment, and other physical and emotional abuse.”

She continued, “I am very concerned for Leo’s safety with Darius given his violent, volatile, and jealous nature, comments he has made which have caused me grave concern, and the lack of restraint Darius has already exhibited regarding his temper in front of our son.” 

Jackson denied the allegations, but the court disagreed as the proof was warranted. Palmer was granted temporary sole custody of baby Leo and a restraining order. The parents are set to appear in court for a hearing on Dec. 5. 

Palmer has yet to comment on the matter publicly. 

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