Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Another man was shot shortly afterward, and was taken to St. John Hospital.
On April 12, 2006, Mario Etheridge, 28, of Detroit turned himself in to the police, having been named by several witnesses. Mario was allegedly a bouncer at the club. “Police said he is a cousin of Keith Bender Jr., the bouncer who was allegedly shot by Proof during the fight.” The fight that started inside the club was reported to be over a pool game. The argument was taken outside where, “A shot was fired in the air, Proof allegedly pistol-whipped Bender, knocked him to the ground and then shot him. Etheridge then allegedly opened fire on the rapper, striking him four times in the head and chest. One week later, Keith Bender Jr. died of his injuries on April 18, 2006.
Official Police reports are yet to determine the series of events which left Proof and Keith Bender, 35, deceased. Bender died 8 days later on April 18, 2006. Following Proof’s death, rapper Snoop Dogg called on fellow musicians to unite, describing the incident as “a loss to the hip-hop community”.
The tributes were led by fellow rapper The Game who was first to comment on the tragedy. The Game remembers how he and Proof became ‘real cool and real homies’ and that ‘Proof will always be remembered and I as well as the Black Wall Street family will keep his memory & his family in our prayers 1’. The second to comment on Proof was long time friend Royce da 5’9″ who was deeply saddened by the death of his good friend. Royce had been a friend of Proof for over 9 years and the two had recently reconciled. Royce echoed the music community, saying ‘He is such loss for the hip hop community…I hope that he will be remembered for the talented artist and great person that he was, and not the tragedy that he fell victim to’.
Eminem was the third to discuss Proof’s death days after his passing, clearly affected by the tragedy. Eminem described Proof as “funny, smart and charming” and said that he would be sorely missed and described him as “the heart and ambassador of Detroit hip-hop”. Eminem said that Proof was, and always will be, his best friend.
Tributes poured out of the UK with Vm2k6 leading the remembrance. Proof’s demise which was mainly overlooked by the UK media was documented and reflected by VM2k6 in which he calls Proof ‘fresh, talented and meaningful, a rarity in Hip Hop today’. He continues saying that Proof had ‘the greatest ability to transfer his experiences and most of all feelings into words’ and finished with the heartfelt line- ‘I guess its only in Death you really begin to shine’.
Several fan videos were released in tribute to Proof, including the hit “Good Die Young” music video which used D12’s 2004 single, which is currently one of the highest discussed and viewed videos on YouTube.com. Many other “slide show” flicks were created, which are appearing all over the internet. The “Good Die Young” clip was produced by RYKE Video Productions.
Proof stated how he wanted to be remembered in an interview with Sohh.com shortly after his album release; ‘I want people to say that I was a true artist’, ‘ That I did it best and stayed true to Hip Hop roots’ and ‘I’d want people to understand I did it for the love not for the charts.’