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Rapper Juice WRLD Dies at Age 21: Family Speaks Out About His Struggles with Addiction

From XXXTentacion to Mac Miller to Lil Peep, the young hip-hop community has suffered significant loss over the past several years. Last week, the genre lost another bright young star—Jarad Anthony Higgins, better known as Juice WRLD.

Born in 1998, Higgins was raised by a single mother, a conservative woman who did not allow her sons to listen to hip-hop. In an interview with radio station HOT 107.9, Higgins revealed that he picked up musical influences from playing video games like Guitar Hero and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, which featured rock and pop artists on their soundtracks.

Speaking to the same radio station, Higgins got candid about his drug use, which began as a young teenager. Higgins didn’t keep his drug use a secret from his fans, often rapping about his usage of opiates and lean, among other substances. His 2018 music video for “Lean Wit Me,” even begins at a 12-Step meeting, going on to detail his struggles with drug abuse, before ending with the number for a recovery helpline.

According to Billboard, Higgins began abusing opioids as early as the sixth grade. He reflected on his experiences as a teen, stating that he told his idol, fellow rapper Future, that Future’s music, which talked about lean, had inspired him to try it for the first time.

“I didn’t have a man giving me no type of guidance. My father wasn’t in my life like that. So listening to this grown-ass man rap about lean, I’m like, ‘Well, that sounds really appealing,’” he told the publication.

As Higgins continued to abuse drugs throughout his teens, he began to make a name for himself by posting self-recorded songs on SoundCloud. In 2017, he released his first full-length EP, which included one of his better-known songs, “Lucid Dreams.”

The song garnered attention from popular rappers like Waka Flocka Flame, boosting Higgins’ exposure to the mainstream hip-hop scene. He went on to release another EP, followed by a music video for “All Girls Are the Same,” which led to a three-million-dollar record deal with Interscope Records in 2018.

After signing with Interscope, Higgins rose to hip-hop fame, collaborating with dozens of artists  like Lil Uzi Vert, Travis Scott, Ellie Goulding, Nicki Minaj, and even his childhood idol, Future. The album Wrld on Drugs was released in collaboration with Future, and became his biggest album to date.

Even at the height of his success, Higgins remained vulnerable in his music. His lyrics, which often reflected on many years battling with mental health and substance abuse, were described as “emotional rap.”

On one track, titled “Legends,” Higgins paid tribute to Lil Peep and XXXTentacion, who both died at a young age. In the song, Higgins references the “27 Club,” then rapping that “We ain’t making it past 21.”

In a horrible turn of events, Higgins would not make it to 21.

Last week, the rapper suffered a seizure while traveling through Chicago’s Midway Airport. According to news outlets, FBI agents were confiscating drugs and guns from Higgins’ private jet at the time of his seizure.

Higgins’ girlfriend, Ally Lotti, was present at the time, and told officials that Higgins “takes Percocet and has a drug problem.” The Chicago Tribune reported that emergency personnel gave Higgins two doses of Narcan, and although he was briefly revived, he was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

Heartbroken, Higgins’ family is now speaking out regarding the loss of their son—a talented but troubled young man.

“Addiction knows no boundaries and its impact goes way beyond the person fighting it. Jarad was a son, brother, grandson, friend and so much more to so many people who wanted more than anything to see him defeat addiction,” said Higgins’ mother, Carmella Wallace in a statement.

Wallace went on to say, “We hope the conversations he started in his music and his legacy will help others win their battles as that is what he wanted more than anything.”

As we listen to Higgins’ music we can only hope that it will inspire others to continue the conversation he began.









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