Nicki Minaj was honored with the Game-Changers Award at the Billboard Women in Music ceremony on Thursday, December 12, where she used her acceptance speech to pay tribute to the late rapper Juice Wrld, who died on December 8 at the age of 21.
“I recently had the pleasure of working and touring with Juice Wrld,” the “Starships” hitmaker, 37, began. “I had a great conversation with him one day and while we walked to the stage, he held my hand and told me to stay calm and to pray. He said he had been trying to do just that.”
Earlier this year, Juice Wrld joined Minaj for their Nicki Wrld Tour in Europe, which marked his first and last tour.
“I felt like he was a kindred spirit, and looking back now, I wish I did something differently or said something to help,” Minaj continued. “He spoke to me in detail about how in love he was with his girlfriend and how passionate he was about music and when he was in the studio with me, he did so many songs so quickly. He was honest and pure about what he felt and that inspired me.”
The “Megatron” rapper concluded her speech by saying, “I want to tell everyone that drugs isn’t the problem, it’s the way we fix our problem. So, it’s so important that we don’t pass judgment so that people don’t feel ashamed to speak up and ask for help. It’s so important we talk about mental health.”
Juice Wrld, born Jared Higgins, suffered a seizure while walking through Chicago Midway Airport on December 8, which was Minaj’s birthday. He was reportedly conscious when paramedics arrived and transported to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois, where he was pronounced dead later that day. Juice Wrld’s cause of death has yet to be determined. The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office said in a statement to Us Weekly on Thursday that “additional studies are required to establish the cause and manner of death.”
Over the course of his short career, Juice Wrld achieved success with his 2018 single “Lucid Dreams,” which landed at No. 2 on the Billboard chart. He followed up with the singles “Lean Wit Me” and “Bandit” in 2019. He released two studio albums, Goodbye & Good Riddance (2018) and Death Race for Love (2019), in which he candidly detailed his substance abuse issues in his lyrics.
His mother, Carmella Wallace, released a statement about her son’s death on Thursday, saying that the people around him “wanted more than anything to see him defeat addiction.”
She told TMZ, “We loved Jarad with all of our hearts and cannot believe our time with him has been cut short. As he often addressed in his music and to his fans, Jarad battled with prescription drug dependency. Addiction knows no boundaries and its impact goes way beyond the person fighting it.”
For access to all our exclusive celebrity videos and interviews – Subscribe on YouTube!