Prodigy, born Albert Johnson, passed away June 20, 2017 at age 42 after a life-long struggle with Sickle Cell Anemia. I was fortunate enough to interview Prodigy on my radio show where we had the chance to talk about his childhood, complications with the disease, and how he overcame his pain. He was dedicated to spreading awareness of sickle cell and positively impacted many lives through his music and personal journey. I share more details of my interview with him in my upcoming book, Aches and Gains available September 1, 2017.
Prodigy was half of a rap duo called Mobb Deep, who were on tour in Las Vegas during his untimely death, after being hospitalized due to complications from the disease. He published his autobiography My Infamous Life in 2011 where he wrote about growing up with sickle cell anemia and his career in the music industry. He was diagnosed at 3 months old as an infant in extreme pain. He described the pain as “stabbing” in his legs, stomach, back and arms.
On the show, he talked about a common problem that he experienced while trying to get treatment during a painful sickle cell crisis. For instance, doctors and nurses in the emergency room would sometimes ignore his need for opioid pain medication because they assumed he was just seeking drugs to get high. He said it was part of a larger problem of sickle cell disease awareness, as well as a race problem.
Mentally and spiritually, he had to grapple with why this happened to him, and found rap music as a good outlet for expressing the pain. He had a sickle cell tattoo on his arm, and was very open about his disease. He was an advocate of eating healthy foods. He said that his strict diet of green vegetables and lots of water would help prevent the onset of a sickle cell crisis.
Listen to more from his exclusive interview here.
He left us with a clear message, “If you want to heal yourself, it’s possible. You’re not a slave to your body.”
Prodigy, November 2, 1974 – June 20, 2017