Eminem’s friend Proof is fatally shot

Times Staff Writer

Three months ago, the rapper called Proof stood and gave the best man’s toast at the wedding of Eminem, adding another scrapbook moment to a long friendship that had begun when both were children in Detroit dreaming of stardom. That toast would be one of the pair’s last shared moments.

Proof, whose real name was Deshaun Holton, died early Tuesday morning after being shot in the head at a club on Detroit’s Eight Mile Road, a thoroughfare he and Eminem made famous to rap fans. Police had few details on Tuesday -- department spokesman James Tate said that the shooting at the Triple C nightclub began after an argument and that an unidentified man was also shot in the head but had survived.

Proof, 32, was dead on arrival at St. John Conner Creek, a clinic near the nightclub, according to Wende Berry, a St. John Health System spokeswoman. The second man, 35, remained in critical condition.


The news is another blow for Eminem, who recently did a drug rehab stint and last week filed for divorce, signaling a quick and bruising end to his bid to reunite with ex-wife Kim Mathers. The pair’s troubles and their turbulent times as parents have been long documented in his music.

In Proof, Eminem had a friend who stood by him through the lean times and the days of stardom. In 2001, Eminem told The Times that he viewed his own success as a ride he shared with his friends: “There was like a personal agreement we made when we first got together years ago in Detroit -- if any of us made it, we’d bring the others along and do something together. Everyone thought Proof would be the one to make it.”

Proof was sitting next to Eminem during that interview. When asked if he worried that Eminem might forget his friend, Proof said: “Never, nothing’s changed between us. We still go to Burger Kings and Taco Bells and wear Nikes. I knew we’d make an album together.”

Proof was a member of D12, the hip-hop collective that included his friend Eminem and other rhymers on the Detroit scene. Their debut album, “Devil’s Night,” in 2001 was buoyed by Eminem’s fame, and they followed it up with the 2004 release “D12 World.” Last year, Proof released his solo debut, “Searching for Jerry Garcia,” on his own label, Iron Fist Records.

Proof also had a part in the film “8 Mile,” which was loosely based on the life of Eminem. Proof was also the clear inspiration for Future, a central character portrayed by Mekhi Phifer. Future was the organizer of “rap battles” in the movie, just as Proof had done for years in Detroit. The rapper even parlayed that reputation into a series of judged rap competitions that were filmed for DVD release.

He was famous, though, as a friend to Eminem and a constant presence in the superstar’s life and work. That included a role in the Eminem music video “Like Toy Soldiers”: Proof is shown as a gunshot victim undergoing surgery while an old friend frets in the corridor and raps about the violent rivalries that haunt hip-hop.

Interscope Records spokesman Dennis Dennehy issued a statement Monday that Eminem and the rest of D12 would “appreciate privacy during this difficult time.”


The Associated Press contributed to this report