Rapper Eminem’s dad, Marshall Bruce Mathers Jr., has died at 67. Sources close to the family said he apparently died of a heart attack at his home near Fort Wayne, Indiana, according to TMZ.
Bruce Mathers and Eminem (whose real name is Marshall Matters III), have been estranged for years. Bruce reportedly walked out on his son just months after he was born in October 1972, and although he later reached out to Eminem, the rapper refused to reconcile.
Bruce married Eminem’s mom, Debbie Nelson, when she was only 15 years old and he was only 22. Eminem’s mom chronicled the failed relationship in her memoir titled My Son Marshall, My Son Eminem, published in 2008.
Debbie and Bruce welcomed their son two years after they married, when Debbie was only 17. The couple separated when Eminem was still an infant.
Bruce relocated to California afterward and had two other children, Michael and Sarah, from another relationship. He struggled with alcohol abuse for many years and attended Alcoholics Anonymous. He also went to rehab multiple times, according to Mirror.
Condolences to the family and friends.🙏
Marshall Bruce Mathers Jr., Eminem's father, passed at 67 of a heart attack. pic.twitter.com/wEfcL0sW1M
— Randolph Bush (@RandolphBush) June 26, 2019
Debbie relocated with her son to Detroit. That’s where Eminem grew up and where his career as a rapper started. But he also spent part of his childhood with members of his father’s family in Missouri.
Eminem revealed in a 2004 interview with Rolling Stone that he was raised by members of his father’s family, including his great-uncle Charles and great-aunt Edna.
“They [Edna and Charles] took care of me a lot,” Eminem told Rolling Stone. “My Uncle Charles passed in ’92 or ’93, and Aunt Edna passed away just six months ago. They were older, but they did things with me… Between them and my Uncle Ronnie, they were my solidity.”
His father occasionally visited his family in Missouri but never gave Eminem any attention. He also once revealed that he wrote letters to his dad about being bullied at school but the letters were returned undelivered.
Eminem’s estrangement from his father affected him. And some of his rap lyrics such as My Name Is and Cleanin’ Out My Closet reference his father in an angry and bitter manner.
He rapped about slitting his father’s throat in his dream in My Name Is and referenced his father abandoning him and his mother in Cleanin’ Out My Closet.
My f*gg*t father must have had his panties up in a bunch
‘Cos he split, I wonder if he even kissed me goodbye
No I don’t, on second thought I just f**king wished he would die.
“He (Eminem) never knew his father, and I did all I could to make up for it,” Eminem’s mom Debbie wrote in her 2018 memoir. “I wanted Marshall to have a relationship with his father… but Bruce didn’t want to know.”
However, after Eminem became famous and successful, his father tried to reconnect with him. But Eminem ignored him.
“I desperately want to meet my son and tell him that I love him,” he told the UK’s Mirror in 2001, according to People. “I’m not interested in his money. I just want to talk to him. I want him to know that I’m here for him if he lets me back into his life.”
He even wrote an open letter to Eminem in 2001. In the letter, he claimed that Eminem had been lied to about his father over the years and that he had always loved his son and wanted to be close to him.
HELLO, son. You won’t remember me, though I held you in my arms when you were a baby. You think I dumped you and your mother and never came looking for you. You’re convinced I’m a drunk who never answered any of your letters. Well, I want you to read this and realize you’ve been fed lies all your life. Now you’ll hear the truth for the first time.
I just want you to know there hasn’t been a day when I haven’t thought about you. I’m saying all this in the News of the World because they’re the only paper who’ve bothered to find the truth. I’d get on a plane right now, this second, and go anywhere in the world if you’d meet with me. Please get in touch.
The full letter can be read below.
While Eminem apologized to his mom in 2014 by way of the song Headlights and the two have mended their relationship, he never did reconcile with his father.