Today would have been Chicago rapper Juice WRLD’s 23rd birthday, and the later rapper’s mother Carmela Wallace commemorated the occasion with a heartbreaking open letter remembering past birthdays and vowing to honor his memory through the Live Free 999 foundation she started in his name.
Juice died of an accidental overdose in December 2019. Since then, a posthumous album, Legends Never Die, has been released, with a second, Fighting Demons, planned for release next Friday, December 10. You can read Ms. Wallace’s full letter below, courtesy of Complex.
When you were born 23 years ago, I never expected that you would not to be here today celebrating your birthday. Although it has been nearly two years since you’ve been gone, I still think about you every day and losing you has changed my life forever. I’m glad that we always made sure that we said goodbye when we left each other because we didn’t know when we would see each other again.
If you were here, I am sure that I would have said something like how it seemed like just yesterday that you were born. I know that I would have told you how proud I was of the man you became and your commitment to changing lives. I miss celebrating your birthday and all the good times that we shared. I have so many wonderful memories of you that will live in my heart forever.
I remember when you found your birthday gift the year that you turned nine. It was a white mp3 player that I hid in my closet. When you found it, you were too excited to hide the fact that you found it and proceeded to share with me how much you wanted a white mp3 player for your birthday. I thought about taking it back to the store and surprising you with something else, but I decided to give it to you anyway. As time passed and we talked about it, you realized that you would rather wait for the surprise than find your gifts early.
You and I would have reminisced about previous birthdays and I’m sure we would have laughed once again about the mp3 player. I would have tried to get as many birthday wishes in as possible like I always did on your birthday when we were together.
You touched the world through your music with honesty and transparency. You shared a message of healing and sincerely desired to make a difference in the lives of others. I still receive messages from fans saying how your music helped them with anxiety and depression. I promise to continue your message of healing and use Live Free 999 as an avenue to normalize the conversation around mental health and substance dependency and help those who suffer in silence.
Happy 23rd Birthday Jarad, I love you dearly. I’m thankful for the time that we had and will forever cherish every moment that we shared.