Earl 'DMX' Simmons – A life remembered
Before the multiplatinum albums and sold-out shows, there was Earl Simmons.
He was born in Mt. Vernon and raised by a single mother at the School Street projects of Yonkers.
From early on, he struggled with a severe case of asthma, a chronic condition that followed him into adulthood.
Simmons claimed he was regularly beaten by his mother, so he preferred to walk the streets of Yonkers alone or playing basketball at the Nepperhan Community Center.
Then at the age of 10, he was kicked out of school and sent to what is now the Andrus School for 18 months. He was then sent to another group home as a teenager where he bonded with other boys over their love of hip-hop music. The seeds of his gruff style were born..
He slowly built a career that led to collaborations with hip-hop legends including LL Cool J, Ja Rule and Jay Z.
After years of perfecting his DMX persona, his debut major label album hit No. 1 on the billboard charts - the first of five consecutive No. 1 albums. Hollywood also came calling with him taking leading roles.
But along with the professional success came more personal struggles, as DMX himself told News 12 before a 2016 concert at the Westchester County Center. "By the grace of God, I survived a 25--year cocaine addiction," he said.
That addiction was exacerbated by bipolar disorder and depression. It also contributed to a number of run-ins with law enforcement, leading to several stints in jail.
In February of 2016, his lifeless body was discovered in the parking lot of a Yonkers hotel. Two Yonkers police officers who were nearby performed CPR, saving his life. "I am extremely grateful...I'm extremely grateful that they were there," he said.
What was suspected to be a drug overdose was his asthma coming back to haunt him, according to DMX. "That was at a moment when I hadn't been using like I had in the past. I wasn't totally clean, but that wasn't the issue," he said.
Since then, it was money issues haunting him. He ended up spending time in prison for tax evasion and failure to pay child support.
But those experiences, while bringing intense personal pain, only fueled his street cred with his fans. With every mugshot came more album sales.
He also spent a lifetime of giving back, supporting the Nepperhan Community Center where he'd spent so many days and handing out turkeys at the Yonkers PBA.
But like so many times in his life, DMX was ready to put the past behind him. Recently, he got engaged and signed with legendary hip-hop label Def Jam records and was about to release a new album.
But on April 2, his health failed one last time - taking away a local legend but not before he left a music legacy that will live on for many years to come.
Family and hospital statements on DMX's death