Rapper Proof Laid To Rest In Detroit

Detroit rap star Proof was laid to rest today (April 19) with tears, wails of grief, a few laughs and, appropriate to any hip-hop gathering, some profanity. Among those in attendance were Eminem, 50 C

Detroit rap star Proof was laid to rest today (April 19) with tears, wails of grief, a few laughs and, appropriate to any hip-hop gathering, some profanity.

Rap luminaries Eminem -- Proof's best friend, protege and D12 group mate -- 50 Cent, Dr. Dre, Lloyd Banks, Young Buck, members of Naughty By Nature and Detroiters Obie Trice, Xzibit and Trick Trick were among the nearly 2,000 mourners attending the two-hour and 15-minute funeral service at Fellowship Chapel on Detroit's Northwest side. The other members of D12 were also on hand and served with Eminem as honorary pallbearers.

Proof's real (Deshaun Holton) and rap names were etched into his gold-colored casket, which was taken by horse-drawn hearse for interment at Detroit's Woodlawn Cemetery. A wake for friends and family was scheduled to take place at the Good Life bar in downtown Detroit.

In remarks during the ceremony, a red-eyed Eminem -- who, like many in the church, wore a black Proof T-shirt under his dark sports coat -- reiterated that "without Proof there would be no Eminem, no Slim Shady, no D12." He saluted the best man at his January wedding as "a people magnet" who "taught me how to be a leader when I didn't know how to."

Proof was fatally shot in the early hours of April 11 after arguing with another man at the C.C.C. nightclub on Detroit's east side. He was 32.

Police say Proof fired the first shots at Keith Bender Jr., 35, who died yesterday from his wounds. Authorities say Bender's cousin, Mario Etheridge, then shot and killed Proof. Etheridge 28, has pleaded not guilty to charges of carrying a concealed weapon and discharge of a firearm in a building.

Bender was also remembered by Pastor Wendell Anthony, who officiated over Proof's funeral. "Deshaun was and is important to God, just like Keith Bender was and is important to God," Anthony said in an impassioned eulogy that quoted Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On," decried urban violence and urged the mourners, "don't die before you finish living... It is time for us to stop shedding needless tears."

Obie Trice echoed the theme, noting, "We're killing each other... and it's about nothing."

Mostly, however, Proof was the focus of the lengthy and somber service, as he was remembered for his role in helping to build the Detroit rap scene through his own groups such as the 5 Ela and the Goon Squad and by hosting rap battles at the Hip Hop Shop. Several mourners were overcome with grief and had to be escorted from the sanctuary to compose themselves. Sitting between 50 Cent and Swifty, Eminem spent much of the service leaning forward, with his head bowed.

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick sent his wishes, and veteran Detroit musician Ralph Armstrong was among the speakers at the ceremony. The only sour note came when Nedra Ruffin, daughter of the late Temptations singer David Ruffin, followed her empathetic remarks to the family by gratuitously plugging her son's upcoming rap CD, which drew murmurs of dissent in the church.

Proof is survived by his wife, Sharonda, and five children. The members of D12 have not commented on what the group's future will be without Proof.