I woke up yesterday and hopped online. One of the first things I saw was that Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor, a member of the legendary rap group A Tribe Called Quest, passed away.  People who know me know that I am a HUGE fan of hip-hop.  It has been a part of my life for nearly 40 years.  Now that I am becoming a man of a certain age, I can’t help but notice how a number of artist I grew up on have died from health-related issues.  Here’s just a brief list of those I can remember:

  • Heavy D – died of a pulmonary embolism at age 44
  • MC Breed – Kidney Failure at age 37
  • Nate Dogg – Stroke at age 41
  • J Dilla – Lupus at age 32
  • Guru (of Gangstarr) – Cancer at age 48
  • Adam “MCA” Yauch (of Beastie Boys) – Cancer at age 47

While some died of terminal illnesses, others died of preventable or manageable illnesses.

Now, this brings me back to Phife.  He and I were born the same year so, hearing he died was rather sobering.  His battle with diabetes was no secret — he had been diagnosed in 1990 and, in 2008, received a kidney transplant.  But, there was another thing about Phife that gave me pause — he, like me, was a self-proclaimed sugar addict.

So far, I have been blessed to avoid this issue but, honestly, I have to chalk it up more to luck than me making the best choices.  Phife’s death was a reminder to me that good health is a blessing not to be taken lightly.  I’m certainly not saying that he did.  I am strictly speaking about me here.

I usually take a more lighthearted approach to speaking on sugar addiction but, not today.  It’s real and its impacts can be dangerous.  In life, Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor taught me about not letting obstacles stop you from pursuing your dreams.  In death, he is teaching me that to keep pursuing those goals, one needs good health.  Rest in Peace and thank you for what you taught me.