To the outside world, Michael Jackson was an iconic but eccentric superstar with a troubled past and a tumultuous personal life. But to his three young kids, he was just "dad." In a new interview with the Mail on Sunday's Event magazine, the King of Pop's now-15-year-old daughter, Paris, opens up about what it was really like to grow up with the late music legend, who died in 2009 when she was 11 years old.
"I have lots of memories of my father," the teen tells the U.K. publication of Jackson, 50 at the time of his passing. "He was an incredible father. We all loved him to death."
"He'd try to educate us as much as he could and was always looking out for us," she adds. "He was very protective."
So protective, in fact, that he often made his children -- Paris, Prince Michael, now 16, and Prince Michael II, 11 -- wear masks when they were in public. "He didn't want anyone to see what we looked like," his daughter explains. "That way we could have what he didn't, which was a normal childhood."
Normal is relative, of course. But in many ways, Paris is just like other kids at the super-exclusive Buckley School in L.A. -- she's a cheerleader, she's into sports (including flag football and volleyball), and she has big plans for a career that has nothing to do with showbiz. "I want to go to medical school and be a doctor specializing in heart surgery," she tells Event. "I want to help people."
Another way she plans to go about that? By reopening her childhood home. After making an emotional pilgrimage to her father's Neverland estate two years ago, the ambitious young teen started dreaming up ways to someday rebuild the ranch in his memory.
"I think it should be restored to how it used to be so that the children who couldn't have a childhood could have fun there," she says, adding that the place is "beautiful" and "still has good energy." She hopes to fund the project using some of the millions in inheritance money her famous dad left her and her siblings when he died.
In the meantime, however, she and her brothers live with their grandmother, Katherine Jackson, and are focused on just enjoying their childhood -- the way their father always hoped they would. "I want to have a normal high school experience," Paris says.