In 2000, at age 35, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, from legendary hip-hop group Run DMC, found himself depressed and in search of meaning in life beyond being a rap star.
"Here I am sitting in Europe, depressed, getting hundreds of thousands of dollars per night, but there was a void in me," McDaniels tells Billboard.com. "I lived a good life, but something inside me said, 'If I'm just here to be DMC, then this is boring.' I got to the point where I became a metaphysical, suicidal, alcoholic, spiritual wreck."
At the height of his depression and alcoholism, McDaniels says he considered suicide. Before leaving the world, however, he wanted to publish an autobiography so fans would know about his life story beyond music. The first step in writing the book was getting some information about the day he was born, May 31, 1964. A conversation with his mother shortly thereafter revealed more information than he had bargained for.
"I just wanted to know a few extra things about my birthday -- how much I weighed, what time I came into the world and what hospital," he says. "She tells me those things and hangs up. An hour goes by and she calls back with my father. They go, 'you was a month old when we brought you home and you're adopted. We love you. Bye.'"
The unexpected news of his adoption certainly came as a shock, especially at such a fragile point in his life, McDaniels admits, but it also brought on a calming feeling within. "When she said that word 'adopted' it filled that void in me," he recalls. "I looked back at my life and realized everything I was blessed with in my life and that I was given the opportunity to be successful."
With new meaning to his life, McDaniels began to share his story and help other foster kids in need of a loving family. In 2006, he co-founded the Felix Organization with casting director (and adoptee) Sheila Jaffe, which sends children to a New York that offers sporting activities and arts and crafts. More recently, in 2009, McDaniels joined the board of directors for the Garden of Dreams Foundation, a nonprofit that works closely with MSG Entertainment and numerous charity organizations to brighten the lives of children facing poverty, homelessness, foster care or other tragedies.
On Jan. 26, Garden of Dreams will host the Chase-presented comedy event Garden of Laughs, to be held at New York's Theater at Madison Square Garden. Hosted by Bob Costas, the event will feature standup performances by Adam Ferrara, Darrell Hammond, Robert Klein, Brian Regan, Ray Romano and Wanda Sykes. Net proceeds from the event will benefit the Garden of Dreams Foundation. Tickets are available at TheaterAtMSG.com/Laughs.
"The whole mission is to give these kids with obstacles, opportunities," McDaniels says. "When you give kids opportunity, they don't just do well, they excel."
Meanwhile, McDaniels says he's working on a new album that he plans to self-release this summer. "It's going to be 'Walk this Way' and 'King of Rock' on steroids," he says, noting that collaborators on the forthcoming set include Mick Mars, Travis Barker, Sebastian Bach, Chuck D and Freddie Fox. "It's going to be hardcore, but have those powerful, positive messages that Run-DMC always represented."