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United in grief: Rapper Heavy D's parents talk about their son

Published:Monday | February 6, 2012 | 12:00 AM
The late rapper Heavy D's parents, Eulalee and Clifford Myers. - Photo by Janet Silvera
From Left: Eulalee and Clifford Myers, parents of the late rapper Heavy D and their 'adopted' son, Johnny Gill, of the group Heads of State. - Photo by Janet Silvera
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Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

Clifford Myers was inside his doctor's office when he heard screams coming from his wife outside.

"When she said Dwight (Heavy D) just died, I thought I was going through the floor," Myers told Flair in an exclusive interview last Friday at friends Percy and Murine Clarke's home, in the quiet Coral Gardens community in Montego Bay.

Dwight 'Heavy D' Myers died November 8, 2011, in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 44. He collapsed outside his Beverly Hills home and was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Originally, doctors felt his death was pneumonia-related.

Cause of death

However, an autopsy report, released on December 27, found that the cause of death was pulmonary embolism. Heavy D reportedly died of a blood clot in his lung. He also suffered from deep vein thrombosis in the leg and heart disease. The blood clot was "most likely formed during an extended airplane ride", Craig Harvey, chief of the Los Angeles County department of the Coroner was quoted by several media houses as saying.

The rapper had recently returned from a trip to London where he performed at a tribute to the late Michael Jackson.

This is the first time since his death that his parents, who are both Jamaicans, have opened up to the media about their pain and grief. "There is no way to describe it," they both told Flair.

Heavy D was their youngest son, and the third child to die in the family; her other sons Tony died at age 26, and Jerry at 37. The couple has two children left, a boy and a girl.

"No parent should have to bury a child, as there is no pain like it," said Mrs Myers, adding that the pain does lessen, but never goes away.

For Clifford Myers, his best friend is gone. "I miss him dearly, he was my best friend, I love him, we would play a lot."

Myers said his son would call him in this playful fashion: "Comehere old man," and would then whisper in his ears, "fix me something to eat," and in the very next breath he would add, "You know what I want. Cook me some stew peas and rice and don't let mommy cook the rice."

Their 'adopted' son Johnny Gill, formerly of the group New Edition, who now sings with Bobby Brown and Ralph Tresvant of the group Heads of State, speaks of a brother who had a rare gift of being grounded. "It's not often you meet people in the business and they remain the same from day one."

The two had been friends since age 18, and Gill remembers a "true friend" who gave everybody a piece of his time.

Eulalee Myers said she spoke with her son the Saturday after he returned from Europe and he said he wasn't feeling well. "I told him to go to the emergency room, because I felt it was walking pneumonia."

She said she sent him a text on Sunday and he said he was going to the doctor on Monday, which he did. The doctor saw two spots on Heavy D's lungs and prescribed a Z Pack, a very potent antibiotic. Mrs Myers does not think the antibiotic had anything to do with her son's death.

Resting

She said on Tuesday morning he said he was resting, and three hours later she received a call that he had died.

Clifford Myers, who will never forget the day his wife screamed in anguish, says sometimes when he lies down and thinks of his son, tears come to his eyes.

Like his wife, and 'adopted' son Johnny Gill, he has watched his son's career make giant steps over the years, but it wasn't until his death that he realised the impact his 44-year-old offspring had made on other people's lives.

"I didn't know he was so loved by people from all walks of life." Thousands came to the public viewing at the Grace Baptist Church in Mt Vernon, New York, he said. They include Al Sharpton, who read a message to Heavy D's daughter Xea, on behalf of United States President Barack Obama; Jada and Will Smith; Jay-Z; Queen Latifah; Yolanda Adams; John Legend; Don King; Delroy Lindo and too many to name.

Johnny Gill sang, Never Would Have Made it (without you), a song that speaks to what one goes through in life. "How we can't survive without God," said Gill.

Gill admitted that since his friend's departure, which he did in fine style accompanied by 12 doves, this was the first time he had sat down and spoken about the death to "mom and pop" (Mr and Mrs Myers). "I don't know if I am quite there yet; it's tough because you always think, what if."

He says one can never be prepared for the death of a loved one, but he was shocked to the core. "We were talking about my album before he died."

Heavy D has been described as an incredible father by his parents. He took off eight years from his career to raise his daughter Xea. This was the first time he had left his little girl for such a long time since her birth.

Both of Xea's parents were raising her, and she now lives with her mother in Los Angeles, California.

Clifford Myers is originally from Hatfield, Manchester, and his wife Eulalee is from Ballards Valley, St Elizabeth. The two emigrated to the United States 45 years ago.

Janet.silvera@gleanerjm