*Heavy D was remembered with laughter and tears Friday during a funeral service included humorous anecdotes from longtime friend Diddy and words of encouragement for his young daughter, delivered in a letter from President Barack Obama, reports the Associated Press.
“We extend our heartfelt condolences at this difficult time. He will be remembered for his infectious optimism and many contributions to American music. Please know that you and your family will be in our thoughts and prayers,” read the Obama note, according to the Rev. Al Sharpton, who quoted from it during the service.
Xea Myers, Heavy D’s 11-year-old daughter, also spoke briefly, telling the audience that her father was “still here, not in the flesh, but in the spirit.”
Grace Baptist Church was filled to capacity for the service, which was also streamed live on the Web. It was so crowded, an overflow area was set up. Among those in attendance were Usher, Queen Latifah, Don King, Q-Tip, John Legend and Rosie Perez.
A large photo of Heavy D sat next to his closed casket.
Heavy D died last week in Los Angeles at the age of 44. His family said the death was due to complications from pneumonia.
The self-proclaimed “Overweight Lover” was born in Jamaica but reared in Mount Vernon, which he dubbed “Money Earnin’ Mount Vernon.” It was also the home of Sean “Diddy” Combs. Diddy talked about how Heavy D helped give him his start in the music industry, and how their decades-long friendship continued up until Heavy D’s death.
He said Heavy D was there for “at my darkest hour” and “was the first person to believe in me.”
But he also told jokes as he recounted his “bromance” with the rapper, including a recent visit to Miami that was supposed to last for three days, but “turned into three weeks.” He added that Heavy D got to know his chef “very well.”
Sharpton also drew laughter when he noted that James Brown “made us black and proud; he (Heavy D) made us fat and proud.”
But singer Johnny Gill was tearful when he approached the altar, saying: “Just want to say to Heavy: job well done.” He later gave a powerful rendition the gospel hit “Never Would Have Made It.” The rappers nieces were also teary-eyed as they sang the gospel standard “His Eye on the Sparrow.”
“I’m feeling like I lost a finger on my hand,” Flav told the New York Daily News, who added that he dressed up for the occasion in a bright green sportcoat and white top hat as a tribute to D, though still wearing his signature clock around his neck. “I’m going to really miss my man. He had a very colorful life—that’s why I’m not wearing black.”
Mary J. Blige, grieving the loss of the hip-hop legend, told BET.com: “He was all of our big brother. He always had a word of encouragement.”
A fund has been set up to financially aid Heavy D’s daughter; details were available on the website rememberheavyd.com.
Noting the solemn occasion, a number of Myers’ celebrity pals, some of whom weren’t able to attend, bid farewell with a moment of silence on Twitter.
“In Honor of @Heavyd who’s being buried today, let’s have a moment of Silence…We have truly lost an Extraordinary Talent,” tweeted La Toya Jackson, who had performed with Heavy at the Michael Jackson Forever Tribute in Wales just a month ago.
“Taking a twitter moment of silence for a couple of days in honor of my brother Heavy D-#RIPHeavyD Love u!God Bless his fam-Talk to yall soon,” added Diddy.
“Smile for Heavy D today. last night’s wake was difficult,” tweeted Simmons.
For those who knew him best, Heavy D’s relatives recalled a “kind and giving spirit” who had a “heart of gold” and love of family.
“Though Hev will most notably be remembered for his work both behind-the-scenes and in the forefront, he will always be remembered by us as a generous soul who remained humble and unselfish till his final days,” Myers’ family said in a statement.
It went on: “The name and the success of Heavy D will always be synonymous with music forever. He never compromised his values and artistry, and encouraged his peers to do the same. To us, Hev was the one who made us laugh, cry, sing, dance and turn a frown upside down. As a family, we are devastated by Hev’s passing, but through our faith in God and support from family, friends and fans, we are comforted, blessed and will remain strong. His ‘bear hugs’ are going to be deeply missed.”
Rest in peace, Heavy.