Eminem paid tribute to his slain best friend and fellow rapper Proof at a packed funeral service Wednesday that included emotional pleas to end violence in the city.
“Proof, he loved people, and people loved him. He was just a people magnet. When you first met him, you wanted to know more about him,” said Eminem, who wore a black suit and occasionally wiped his eye as he stood by the gold-colored casket. “Without Proof, there would be no Eminem, no Slim Shady and no D12. You’re the man.”
The funeral program said the two men shared the “friendship of a lifetime” and included several photos of the pair together.
It had been Proof’s idea to form D12, a group comprised of him, Eminem and four other rappers, and Proof was the best man at Eminem’s wedding in January.
Eminem recounted a time when he was 16 years old, and Proof came to his house and threw down a pair of shoes, telling him to put them on. When Eminem asked why, Proof answered: “Because I’m tired of you wearing them dirty … shoes,” Eminem recalled, punctuating “dirty” with an off-color suffix.
“I apologize for cussing in church,” he quickly added.
Proof, whose real name was Deshaun Holton, was killed in the early hours of April 11 at the CCC nightclub on Eight Mile Road, the thoroughfare for which Eminem’s 2002 movie “8 Mile,” in which Proof had a small part, is named.
A floral arrangement in the shape of an “8” was among the many that surrounded the casket.
Police say Proof, 32, shot another man, Keith Bender, the night he was killed. Bender, 35, died in a hospital Tuesday.
Rapper Obie Trice, another member of Eminem’s inner circle, also spoke at the funeral and delivered a serious message, one he said was directed to black men.
“We’re killing each other, and it’s about nothing,” said Trice, who was shot while driving on a Detroit-area highway in December.
The Rev. Wendell Anthony continued that theme in his eulogy.
“Our community suffers the loss of another young man, who reflects the fact that those whom we love are dying too soon and leaving too quickly,” said Anthony, an influential Detroit pastor who is president of the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “The other family has also suffered a loss. Two families — both now grieving, a community now grieving.”
Anthony said Proof had been scheduled to take part in an April 29 forum in Detroit on the influence of hip hop. The forum is sponsored by the Freedom Institute for Economic, Social Justice and Political Empowerment, which Anthony founded.
Friends and fans of the rapper lined up outside Fellowship Chapel well before the start of the two-hour funeral service. Limousines lined the church’s driveway.
Proof’s casket, etched with his real name and his rap name, was carried out of the church at the conclusion of the service and was loaded onto a horse-drawn hearse.
One mourner, Sean Stallworth, said he came to pay his respects to somebody who was so influential in the Detroit hip-hop community.
“He’s from Detroit. I’m from Detroit,” said Stallworth, 22. “He put us on the map.”
Proof is survived by his wife, Sharonda, and five children.
Bender’s cousin, Mario Etheridge, is suspected of shooting Proof and has been charged with carrying a concealed weapon and discharging a firearm in a building. He has pleaded not guilty and was released Sunday after posting a $7,000 bond.
On Tuesday, prosecutors filed a civil suit aimed at shutting down the CCC because of what they say is a pattern of criminal activity and liquor license violations at the club.