D-12 Rapper Proof Remembered

AllHipHop Staff

DeShaun Holton lived what many considered a good life.

A man who inspired a movement among Hip-Hop purists in his native Detroit, the man known as Proof gave much of himself in shining a light on up and coming lyricists in his hometown.

From forming the rap collective D-12 to helping mold Grammy- and Oscar-winning rapper Eminem, Proof made worthwhile contributions to the evolution of Detroit’s Hip-Hop scene and Hip-Hop culture in general.

Today marks three years since Holton died following a heated exchange at the CCC club on Eight Mile Road in Detroit.

Prior to his death, the rapper garnered local recognition as a host of Saturday afternoon battle rap competitions at the Hip Hop Shop.

In addition to hosting, Proof participated in the event as he garnered a near victory in the 1998 Blaze Battle Contest.

The competition and buzz surrounding Proof’s lyrical ability behind the mic resulted in national recognition from The Source magazine, which featured the entertainer in its Unsigned Hype column in 1999.

Proof’s prominence continued to rise with D12 as the group released two platinum albums, 2001’s Devil’s Night and its follow-up, D12 World in 2004, after signing with Eminem’s Shady Records.

Proof later made the move into acting with a small role in the film 8 Mile. The drama featured the character Future, who was inspired by Proof and portrayed by Mekhi Phifer.

With a critical and box office hit and success with D12 under his belt, Proof launched his solo career with the release of his debut album, I Miss the Hip Hop Shop, in 2004.

The rapper followed the release one year later with his final solo opus, Searching for Jerry Garcia.

The project, which was released on Aug. 9, 2005 via Proof’s label, Iron Fist Records, featured appearances from Eminem and his fellow D12 members as well as Cypress Hill frontman B-Real, 50 Cent, Method Man, T3 of Slum Village, Obie Trice and Royce Da 5'9".

Despite the underwhelming performance of Searching for Jerry Garcia, Proof continued to remain active with releasing various mixtapes and touring with close friend Eminem and D-12.

The rapper’s life came to a tragic end on April 11, 2006 a single gunshot wound to the head.

According to reports, the tragedy resulted from a heated exchange at the Triple C club between Proof and the club’s bouncer, Mario Etheridge.

The argument between the men escalated into a physical altercation. In an effort to calm the situation, Etheridge fired his gun into the air.

Despite the intention, Etheridge’s cousin, Keith Bender Jr. was fatally shot in the head by Proof. Soon after, Etheridge shot Proof three times in the head and chest, killing the rapper.

Bender, who was in critical condition after being taken to a hospital, died a week later. News of the death sent shockwaves in Detroit as details surfaced regarding the incident.

Although no other drugs were found in Proof’s system, it was discovered that the rapper had a blood alcohol level of 0.32 percent at the time of his death.

Days following the CCC Club incident, Proof’s estate was at the center of a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Bender’s family.

Etheridge, who maintained he was acting in self-defense when he shot Proof, was found guilty of carrying a concealed weapon and discharging a firearm inside a building.

Proof was laid to rest on April 19, 2006 as thousands of fans joined the artist’s family and friends at the Fellowship Chapel in Detroit.

Among those attending the funeral were 50 Cent, Obie Trice and Eminem, who eulogized his friend as he credited Proof as the one who “taught me how to be a leader.”

"I'm sure everybody who ever met him - even just once - can testify to the fact that he illuminated a room when he walked in it,” he said. “He was a magnet. He lured you in. You wanted to learn about him, follow his swagger. Without Proof, there would be no Eminem, no Slim Shady, no D12. You're the man."