Gone, but not forgotten. On Thursday, May 9, a little more than a week after Chris Kelly's shocking death at age 34, the Kris Kross rapper's friends and family gathered in Atlanta to grieve his sudden passing. Among those in attendance at the funeral were Kelly's rap partner and longtime friend Chris "Daddy Mac" Smith, members of the band Xscape, hip hop star Da Brat, and mentor Jermaine Dupri, who discovered Kelly and Smith in a mall when they were just 12 and 11 years old, respectively.
Per the Associated Press, Smith and Dupri walked into Jackson Baptist Memorial Church together. In a tribute to Kelly's trademark fashion gimmick, the surviving Kris Kross star and other mourners wore their pants backwards. Additionally, TMZ reports that Keke Wyatt and Xscape singers LaTocha and Tamika Scott performed at the service.
Smith honored his late pal with an emotional speech during the funeral, telling his fellow attendees that "it's been a struggle" every day since Kelly's death. "I know Chris is in heaven," he said through his tears. "He was a true friend...I just wanna say I love you, man...and I'm gonna miss you dearly."
"My life...it ain't ever gonna be the same, but I just hope our legacy for hip hop is never forgotten," he added. "I'm gonna do my part to make sure Chris' legacy will live on."
Kelly passed away on Wednesday, May 1, after he was found unconscious in his Atlanta-area home. An autopsy has been completed, but an official cause of death is still pending toxicology reports. (He had reportedly been abusing both cocaine and heroin the night before his death.)
"It is with deep sadness that we announce that our beloved Chris Kelly has passed away on May 1," his mom, Donna, told Us Weekly in a statement. "To millions of fans worldwide, he was the trendsetting, backwards pants-wearing one-half of Kris Kross who loved making music. But to us, he was just Chris -- the kind, generous and fun-loving life of the party."
Kelly's mentor, Dupri, echoed Donna's sentiments when he spoke to Us Weekly's Ian Drew a short time after the star's passing. "It was like we were just kids that were into the same things and he played video games. He played basketball. He played baseball. He played football. He rapped. He swam," Dupri remembered of his mentee. "He was just a natural kid, like a person that you want to be around at all times because he would never not want to be doing anything."