When rap superstar Eminem shot to international fame in the late 1990s, he did so with his group D12 at his side. Sadly, two of the original six founding members of D12, Karnail (Bugz) Pitts and DeShaun (Proof) Holton, were killed in heated exchanges with rivals in 1999 and 2006, respectively, in their hometown of Detroit.

Pitts never got to see the group achieve fandom and financial success, dying two years before the groundbreaking Motor City hip hop collective dropped its first album, the quadruple-platinum selling Devil’s Night, which was a No. 1 record in the summer of 2001 and dedicated to his memory. Holton on the other hand was well known to music fans as Eminem’s trusted sidekick, rap mentor, best friend, hype man and “brother MC,” prior to his slaying. In Eminem’s smash-hit movie 8 Mile in 2002, a version of Holton was portrayed by actor Mekhi Phifer.

Eminem’s transformational megawatt-mainstream debut The Slim Shady LP was released to worldwide praise in February 1999. By April of that year, the album was certified platinum, his first of many.

The following month, he’d lose the first member of his group.

Bugz got murdered while attending a BBQ on Detroit’s famous Belle Isle, hours before he was supposed to perform with Eminem and D12 across the state in Grand Rapids. On the afternoon of May 21, 1999, Pitts and several of his friends got into a physical altercation with another group of picnickers at the sprawling park bordering the Detroit River and offering views of the Canadian coastline that turned deadly. Bugz was just 21.

Upon a female friend of Pitts’ named Tamika Franklin getting sprayed with a high-powered water gun, Pitts and his crew of buddies, which included Franklin’s brother and cousin, began beating the perpetrator, a teenager named Jimmy Lloyd in retaliation — Lloyd had allegedly pushed Franklin when she confronted him regarding the unwelcomed gesture. As Pitts tried to extricate himself from the fracas, Lloyd’s friend, a man named Andre Hamilton shot him with a hunting rifle and proceeded to run him over with his SUV. Hamilton was convicted of first-degree homicide.

Proof & Eminem

Proof was shot to death by Mario Etheridge in the early morning of April 11, 2006 after he argued with and then shot Etheridge’s cousin Keith Bender in a fight that broke out at the Triple C, an after-hours establishment off 8 Mile Road, over a game of pool between former high school classmates. Bender died from his wounds too.

Holton, 32, and Bender, 29, had attended Detroit Osborn High School together. Ethridge was the club’s bouncer and eventually acquitted on second-degree murder charges by pleading self-defense. Reggie (Mudd) Moore, a Motown rapper and Proof’s protégé who was present at the scene, claimed in an interview in the years following Proof’s slaying that Ethridge shot and killed Holton and then shot and killed Bender by accident.

Eight Mile Road is the dividing line between the city of Detroit and Southeast Michigan’s suburbs. The since-closed Triple C rested at the corner of 8 Mile and Gratiot Avenue on the northern-most tip of the 48235 area code, the nation’s deadliest neighborhood as measured by overall murder rate and nicknamed the “4823-Die” by local gangbangers.

The grimy after-hours joint was owned by Detroit mob capo Frank (Frankie the Bomb) Bommarito, the area Italian crime family’s representative in the rugged region. Bommarito died of natural causes last fall at 86. He headed mob affairs with Detroit’s African-American and motorcycle club underworlds for years before being hospitalized for sudden organ failure in late 2016.

Related Post

Leave a Reply