Eminem’s estranged father, Marshall Bruce Mathers Jr., has died, Us Weekly confirms. He was 67.
Bruce, as he went by, died earlier this week after suffering a heart attack at his home near Fort Wayne, Indiana, according to TMZ, which was first to report the news.
Eminem, 46, had been estranged from his dad for his entire life. The rapper’s mother, Debbie Nelson Mathers, married Bruce in 1970, and they welcomed Eminem (real name Marshall Bruce Mathers III) two years later. The couple broke up soon after their son was born. Bruce left the family in Detroit and moved to California, where he later had two more children, Michael and Sarah.
Debbie, 64, told Rolling Stone in 1999 that Eminem wrote and mailed a few letters to Bruce as a teenager, but they came back marked “return to sender.” In the same interview, the 15-time Grammy winner told the magazine that he heard his dad had been “trying to get in touch” with him once he became famous.
“He tried to write to his father in the first years of his life, but the letters were always returned,” Eminem’s grandma Betty Kresin told BBC Radio 4’s Today in 2001. “It very hard for him in the first years of his life.”
Bruce, for his part, claimed he “desperately” wanted to meet his eldest child to “tell him that I love him.” In a 2001 interview with The Mirror, he said, “I want him to know that I’m here for him if he lets me back into his life. 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 my life.”
Eminem has been brutally honest in several of his hit singles about his father abandoning him as an infant. In 2002’s “Cleanin’ Out My Closet,” he rapped, “I wonder if he even kissed me goodbye / No, I don’t, on second thought, I just f–kin’ wished he would die.”
Bruce is survived by his three children, Eminem, Michael and Sarah, and his grandchildren Alaina, Hailie and Whitney, who are Eminem’s three daughters.