Today would have marked the 40th birthday of Eminem’s hype man and D12 member, Proof. Real name DeShaun Holton, Proof was a permanent staple of Detroit’s underground rap scene in the 1990s. Rising to prominence with the Detroit rap collective, D12, Proof made a name for himself as a battle rapper in Detroit, earning early recognition as a rapper in The Source’s famed “Unsigned Hype” column in 1999.
After childhood friend, Eminem, blew up nationally in the late 1990s, Proof and his group, D12, were signed to Em’s Shady Records, releasing two platinum albums in 2001 and 2004. In 2002, Noted actor Mekhi Phifer played a character heavily based on Proof in the award-winning film 8 Mile, a semi-autobiographical film based on Eminem’s life.
Proof’s success was cut short when on April 11, 2006, he was shot and killed four-times in Mario Etheridge, after an altercation broke out during a game of billiards at the CCC Club on 8 Mile Road in Detroit. Proof had gotten into a heated argument with fellow bar patron, Keith Bender, that escalated into a deadly physical encounter. Although accounts of the events are in dispute, the aftermath of the event found Proof shooting Bender, Etheridge’s cousin, in the head, after Etheridge fired a warning shot into the air. After Proof hit Bender, Etheridge fired four shots, two in the head, two in the back at Proof, killing him at the scene. An autopsy of Proof’s body showed that he had blood alcohol content of 0.32, four times the legal DUI limit.
Despite the tragic circumstances of Proof’s death, he is remembered fondly by his peers and remains a seminal figure in Detroit hip-hop.