WHITE PLAINS, NY (CelebrityAccess) — Earl Simmons, the Grammy-nominated rapper known professionally as DMX who, at the height of his career released five back-to-back #1 albums, has died. He was 50.
“We are deeply saddened to announce today that our loved one, DMX, birth name of Earl Simmons, passed away at 50 years old at White Plains Hospital with his family by his side after being placed on life support for the past few days,” read a statement from the rapper’s family Friday morning. “Earl was a warrior who fought till the very end. He loved his family with all of his heart and we cherish the times we spent with him. Earl’s music inspired countless fans across the world and his iconic legacy will live on forever. We appreciate all of the love and support during this incredibly difficult time. Please respect our privacy as we grieve the loss of our brother, father, uncle and the man the world knew as DMX. We will share information about his memorial service once details are finalized.”
As first reported by TMZ, Simmons was hospitalized on April 2nd after suffering a heart attack and had been in critical care on life support before he passed. According to multiple media reports, Simmons’ heart attack left him in a vegetative state, and he was also diagnosed with COVID-19 while hospitalized.
Born in Mount Vernon, N.Y., Simmons grew up in difficult circumstances, spending much of his young life in group homes. He also suffered from severe bronchial asthma as well as physical abuse from his mother and several of her partners.
By 14, he was beatboxing for a local rapper named Ready Ron and performing under the stage name ‘Dark Man X’ but was forced to put his career on hiatus after he was sent to prison in 1988 for his role in a carjacking.
It wasn’t until the early 1990s when he began to take his career as an artist seriously, collaborating with a group of artists that included Jay-Z, Mase, Ja Rule and began producing and releasing his own mixtapes. He signed a recording deal with Columbia Records’ Ruffhouse label but his early releases failed to generate traction.
In 1998, he scored his first gold record with “Get at Me Dog” on Def Jam which he soon followed with his first major label studio album It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot which debuted atop the Billboard 200 and went on to sell more than 5 million copies.
His four follow up albums Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, .. And Then There Was X, and the Grand Champ also debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200, driven by singles such as “Party Up (Up in Here),” “What These Bitches Want” (featuring Sisqo), and “Who We Be.”
Despite his success as a recording artist, Simmons struggled with substance abuse and legal issues. He was arrested and imprisoned multiple time for a variety of offenses, including in 2004 when he was stopped at New York’ JFK Airport and charged with cocaine possession as well as criminal impersonation of a federal agent, criminal possession of a weapon, criminal mischief, and menacing.
In 2017, he was charged with multiple counts of federal tax fraud after failing to file tax returns for 5 years. He later pleaded guilty to one count and while awaiting sentencing, he voluntary left a court ordered drug rehab program leading to a one-year stint in prison for Simmons.
Simmons was also open about his addiction issues, including crack cocaine, which he said he started using when he was 14. In 2016, he was found unresponsive in a Ramada Inn parking lot in Yonkers where onlookers said he had ingested an unknown substance. He was resuscitated and hospitalized, later claiming he had suffered an asthma attack.
Over the course of his career, Simmons was nominated for three Grammys, including Best Rap Album in 2001 and twice for Best Rap Artist in 2001 and 2002.
Simmons was married for 11 years to a childhood friend, Tashera Simmons but the two separated in 2010. Simmons has 15 children.