Juice WRLD, the talented Chicago-born singer who rose from Soundcloud to rap fame after scoring a massive hit with Lucid Dreams, is dead at the age of 21, and TMZ is now reporting that the rapper may have ingested Percocet pills to hide them from federal law enforcement officers who were waiting for his private plane at Midway Airport.
According to the entertainment site, which also broke news of Juice’s untimely death, the private plane’s pilot was the person who tipped off law enforcement that people on the aircraft were allegedly carrying guns. “Juice WRLD might’ve made a fatal decision as law enforcement searched his private jet — swallowing a bunch of painkillers in an attempt to hide them from the feds,” TMZ reported, although authorities have not officially confirmed this account. The pilot hasn’t been identified. (The members of Juice’s entourage accused of carrying guns are Chris Long and Henry Dean. Long is a well-known BMX enthusiast and videographer. You can read more about him here. Dean runs a security group in Chicago. You can read about him here.)
“We’re told at some point between the plane landing and the feds conducting their search … Juice was seen swallowing several Percocet pills in what people believed was an attempt to hide them,” TMZ reported, adding that the site’s sources think that might have contributed to a possible overdose, although that’s not yet proven.
Heavy.com has confirmed the rapper’s sudden death with Chicago police, Chicago fire and the county medical examiner’s office. The story now involves allegations of pill popping, a cache of drugs, gun accusations, and a federal investigation by authorities who got a tip that the private plane was carrying illegal contraband and met it when Juice landed at Chicago’s Midway Airport, shortly before he went into convulsions.
What is the cause of death for the rapper? The official cause of death wasn’t determined even after an autopsy. The medical examiner deferred the cause of death pending more testing, including toxicology, neuropathology, cardiac pathology and histology. However, officials and dispatch audio indicate the rapper suffered cardiac arrest and a seizure. What triggered those things for sure is not yet clear. However, a picture is emerging of a plane allegedly filled with weaponry and drugs.
Here’s what’s known so far. Chicago Fire Spokesman Lawrence Langford told Heavy, “Chicago Fire found him in cardiac arrest and treated him according to protocol. We [we]re called to a private terminal at Midway to a private flight.” The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the medical emergency occurred around 2 a.m. on Sunday, December 8, 2019, and Juice WRLD was pronounced dead at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn at 3:15 a.m. The hangar was operated by Atlantic Aviation, according to dispatch audio.
That follows an earlier report that the rapper died after suffering from a seizure, according to TMZ, which broke the news of his death. Chicago police have now confirmed that account.
TMZ is now reporting that the plane that the rapper took to Chicago was “loaded down with 70 pounds of marijuana … and cops say people on the plane told them the rapper had popped several pills prior to suffering seizures.” The site published a photo allegedly showing drugs inside suitcases. Although it’s not clear what the pills were, TMZ reports that one of Juice’s colleagues told police that Juice had a “Percocet problem,” and police found a bottle of codeine cough syrup on the private plane (it’s well known that Juice battled an addiction to lean, which is made with cough syrup. He also spoke openly about using prescription drugs, such as Percocet and Xanax, and his songs are replete with drug references.)
When the entourage got off the private plane, federal authorities soon found themselves in the midst of a dire medical emergency involving one of the country’s most promising rappers.
Chicago police told Heavy.com in a statement that, on December 8, 2019 at approximately 1:34 a.m. in the 6100 block of South Laramie, Chicago Police “were called to assist Federal Authorities in regards to a private jet arriving at the airport which contained a large amount of narcotics. Upon CPD arriving, the occupants of the target plane were standing in the lobby with luggage loaded on two luggage carts.”
The statement continues, “Illinois State Police K9 Unit began a search which immediately indicated a positive narcotics alert on a suitcase on the first cart. The K9 Officer then conducted a search on the second cart of luggage with another positive alert of narcotics. Officers then searched the luggage, which contained 41 bags of suspect marijuana and six prescription bottles of suspect liquid cocaine, along with three firearms. None of the subjects claimed ownership of the luggage.”
Police added: “During the investigation, a 21-year-old male suffered a medical emergency, causing him to have a seizure. The report indicates that a Homeland Security Officer administrated Narcan to the victim. The victim was later pronounced. Upon further investigation, Offender #1 Henry Dean, 27, indicated that he was on the plane but was private security. He was able to provide a valid FOID card and CCL but was in possession of high capacity round magazine. Offender #1 was subsequently charged with one charge of Possession of High Capacity Magazine and Metal Piercing Bullets, and two misdemeanor counts of Carry or Conceal a Firearm in the Airport. Offender #2, Christopher Long, 36 was charged with one misdemeanor count of Unlawful Use of Weapon/Carry or Possess.”
Heavy.com has obtained Chicago police dispatch audio that indicates first responders reported a man “seizuring” at the hangar. ICE’s Homeland Security is now also investigating Juice’s death, WGN-TV reported. WGN added that Juice WRLD went into cardiac arrest within minutes of the plane landing.
When the agent gave Juice Narcan, it briefly woke him up but he was “incoherent,” according to the Chicago Tribune.
The Tribune reported that authorities recovered “41 ‘vacuum-sealed’ bags of marijuana, six bottles of prescription codeine cough syrup, two 9 mm pistols, a .40-caliber pistol, a high-capacity ammunition magazine, and metal-piercing bullets,” according to the newspaper’s sources. The bags with the marijuana and codeine lacked name tags, The Tribune reported. The plane contained 10 passengers including Juice’s girlfriend, who allegedly told police that Juice “takes Percocet and has a drug problem.” Since Percocet contains Oxycodone, Narcan was given. Narcan can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, although it’s not known for sure what, if anything, Juice ingested.
The pertinent dispatch audio starts at about 14:36 minutes into the file, which you can listen to below. “Get an ambulance inside the Atlantic uh airport. We’ve got a guy seizuring in here,” says an officer.
“Ambulance inside the airport? Where in the airport?” asks the dispatcher. “The Atlantic private section. 6150 S. Laramie. An individual seizuring,” says the officer.
Dispatcher: “6150 South Laramie, OK, we will get them rolling.” That’s the address of Atlantic Aviation at Midway.
At 15:54 in, another officer says, “Ambulance come over here to Atlantic…” The dispatcher responds, “Already sent.”
At 17:25 into the file, an officer informs dispatch, “We’re going to need a beat car to follow this EMS from Midway,” “OK,” she says. Listen:
Meanwhile video has surfaced showing Juice WRLD on the private jet as it flew to Chicago, according to a YouTuber. Nothing appears amiss.
“More footage of Juice Wrld on his private jet which was headed to Chicago. Seems like everything was good and everyone including him was in high spirits until he landed,” wrote DJ Akademiks, the YouTuber who shared the videos on Twitter.
According to WGN-TV, police charged two bodyguards who were part of Juice’s entourage with “having guns on airport property” – one was accused of carrying a concealed firearm at the airport and one was accused of “having high capacity magazines and metal piercing bullets.” A 36-year-old man is charged with “unlawful use of a weapon,” WGN reported. TMZ reported their names as Chris Long and Henry Dean. The gun charges are misdemeanors, The Tribune reported.
Juice WRLD’s autopsy was conducted Monday.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Juice WRLD Was Still Conscious at First But Died at the Hospital & He Was Bleeding From the Mouth, Reports Say
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed to Heavy that they were notified of Juice WRLD’s death, using his real name Jarad Anthony Higgins. Fox32 reports that a witness claims Juice’s “eyes were open when paramedics got to the hangar.” He was arriving in Chicago for a belated birthday party, according to the television station.
TMZ, which first broke the story of the rapper’s sudden death, reported that Juice WRLD is “dead after suffering a seizure in Chicago’s Midway airport.” The entertainment site gave additional details on the shocking news by adding, “witnesses tell us he suffered the seizure while walking through the airport. Law enforcement sources say he was bleeding from the mouth when paramedics got on scene.”
It’s not clear what triggered the seizure and/or cardiac arrest, however. Anthony Guglielmi, Chicago police spokesman, told Heavy in a statement, “This is being classif(ied) currently as a death investigation. There are no initial signs of foul play and we are awaiting results from the medical examiner on the cause and manner of death.”
He later posted a statement that read, “After arriving in Chicago Mr. Higgins suffered what appears to be a medical emergency with no obvious signs of foul play. Individuals aboard the aircraft are cooperating. We will await autopsy results on cause & manner of death & don’t anticipate any updates until 3pm tomorrow (Monday).
He added to ABC7, “Shortly after arriving to Chicago he suffered what appears to be some type of medical emergency according to people traveling with him. There were no signs of foul play and all individuals aboard the aircraft are cooperating with CPD and have given all of their information.”
TMZ reported that Juice WRLD died at the hospital and was still conscious when he was brought there. According to The Chicago Sun-Times, Juice died after suffering “a medical emergency at Midway Airport.” Midway is the smaller of Chicago’s two major airports, with the other being O’Hare.
“The medical examiner has been notified of the death of Jarad Higgins, 21 year old black male, 18500 block of Pierce Terrace in Homewood, Illinois, and the autopsy has not been performed at this time,” the medical examiner’s spokeswoman told Heavy. The Pierce Terrace address is his home address in Illinois, according to online records.
Juice WRLD rose to fame with his songs Lucid Dreams and All Girls Are the Same. His career was just starting to escalate. His album Death Race for Love went to Number 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. He also collaborated with various well-known artists, such as Ellie Goulding and Lil Uzi. In what some are now saying is disturbingly prophetic, a TikTok video challenge to Lucid Dreams before Juice’s death showcased people faking that they had seizures while dancing to his music.
“Juice made a profound impact on the world in such a short period of time. He was a gentle soul, whose creativity knew no bounds, an exceptional human being and artist who loved and cared for his fans above everything else,” Interscope Records wrote in a statement.
There were references to death in his songs that now seem prophetic. This was one of his last tweets.
Juice WRLD raps about death in the song Legends, which is about the deaths of Lil Peep and XXXTentacion. In the song, he sang, “What’s the 27 club? We ain’t making it past 21.” In Lucid Dreams, he sang,
You left me falling and landing inside my grave
I know that you want me dead
I take prescriptions to make me feel a-okay
I know it’s all in my head
According to Metro UK, Juice WRLD was at the Chicago Airport on Sunday morning because he had just arrived at the airport “on a flight from California.”
Chicago was his hometown, the city that propelled him from Soundcloud to greater fame. Billboard is reporting that Juice “was reportedly alive when paramedics arrived on the scene, but was pronounced dead at a local hospital shortly thereafter.”
According to the Sun-Times, “Chicago police confirmed that a 21-year-old man suffered a medical emergency at the airport about 2 a.m. after getting off a private jet. He was taken to a local hospital and pronounced dead.”
2. Juice WRLD, Who Was Open About His Drug Use, Leaves Behind a Girlfriend & He Wrote This Summer That He Stopped Using Lean for Her
Juice WRLD leaves behind a girlfriend, Ally Lotti. He once said he stopped using the painkiller codeine because of his relationship with Lotti. You can learn more about Juice WRLD and Lotti here.
Here’s his tweet announcing he was kicking codeine. Essentially, he gave up lean (codeine cough syrup with a soft drink or hard candy) for his girlfriend – at least that’s what he said in the summer.
What is lean? According to Drug Abuse.com, “Lean — also known as purple drank, purple lean, sizzurp, dirty sprite, and lean drink—is a combination of prescription-strength cough medicine, soft drinks, and hard, fruit-flavored candy. The prescription cough syrups used to make lean drink present the most danger because they often contain codeine, an opioid drug. Another active ingredient in some prescription cough syrups is promethazine, an antihistamine with potentially sedating effects that, in combination with opioids, could markedly impair motor functioning.”
Juice WRLD started using lean in 6th grade after listening to Future’s music and also spoke openly about prescription drug abuse over the years, such as Percocet and Xanax. Of getting sober from opiates, he once said, according to Billboard, “What do you expect if I’m a young dude that really loves music, really looks up to these artists? I didn’t have a man giving me no type of guidance. My father wasn’t in my life like that. So listening to this grown-ass man rap about lean, I’m like, ‘Well, that sounds really appealing.’” His songs were laced with drug references. He also talked about getting sober from drug addiction.
“I want to be that person that leads people out of the place they’re at,” Juice WRLD told Billboard earlier this year. “And in the process, maybe I’ll find the key to get out of the place that I’m at. The low places I may wander into or get trapped in.”
Some people who have a history of seizures or epilepsy expressed fear on social media after Juice WRLD’s death. “I know juice wrld died and that’s a huge deal because it’s heartbreaking for him and his family and fans but it terrifies me because right now I have epilepsy and atm uncontrolled seizures so w this it kind of terrifies me so if y’all could just not talk abt it to me thank u,” wrote one man.
“this is the second talented young man we’ve lost to seizures this year. as a person who has lived with epilepsy for most of my life i feel these losses even closer to my soul. rest in peace juice wrld,” wrote another fan.
Other people referenced drug use in tweets. “Went into a state of complete shock when I saw the news ?. So from now on I’m removing drugs from my lifestyle. No more pills, no more lean. This shit took one of my favorite artists away from me?. RIP @JuiceWorlddd,” wrote one fan.
“Stop drinking lean like water. Stop eating percocets like candy. Dont do drugs if you’re tryna grow old. It’s sad but when you live a rich, lavish, young and dumb life like these artists do nowadays it’s inevitable. Gone to soon. RIP,” wrote another.
3. Percocet Is Dangerous Especially if Combined With Other Drugs But Seizures & Cardiac Arrest Can Have Many Causes
Percocet is also dangerous if combined with other drugs especially. “Knowing the effects of mixing Percocet (also referred to by the generic names Acetaminophen and Oxycodone) and alcohol can help you make informed decisions about your consumption of these items,” reports Alcohol.org. “Studies indicate that combining alcohol and Percocet increases the chance of addiction. Continued use of this combination can lead to severe liver damage, liver failure, overdose, and death.”
According to Drugs.com, “Percocet contains a combination of acetaminophen and oxycodone. Oxycodone is an opioid pain medication. An opioid is sometimes called a narcotic. Acetaminophen is a less potent pain reliever that increases the effects of oxycodone…You should not use Percocet if you have recently used alcohol, sedatives, tranquilizers, or other narcotic medications…MISUSE OF THIS MEDICINE CAN CAUSE ADDICTION, OVERDOSE, OR DEATH… An overdose of oxycodone or acetaminophen (both present in Percocet) can cause death.” Xanax misuse can also lead to death.
The American Heart Association says that a heart attack and cardiac arrest are not technically the same thing. According to AHA’s website, cardiac arrest is “the abrupt loss of heart function in a person who may or may not have been diagnosed with heart disease. It can come on suddenly, or in the wake of other symptoms. Cardiac arrest is often fatal, if appropriate steps aren’t taken immediately.”
AHA says that a heart attack is different, at least to a non lay person. “The term ‘heart attack’ is often mistakenly used to describe cardiac arrest. While a heart attack may cause cardiac arrest, the two terms don’t mean the same thing,” AHA explained.
“Heart attacks are caused by a blockage that stops blood flow to the heart. A heart attack (or myocardial infarction) refers to death of heart muscle tissue due to the loss of blood supply. Heart attack can be understood as a ‘circulation’ problem. A heart attack is quite serious, sometimes fatal. By contrast, cardiac arrest is caused when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions. The heart stops beating properly.”
There are many potential causes of cardiac arrest. According to AHA, the causes can include heart tissue scarring, a thickened heart muscle, heart medications, electrical abnormalities, blood vessel abnormalities, and recreational drug use.
According to the FDA, codeine use can lead to a host of problems, including death, especially if ingested with other drugs or alcohol.
“Serious adverse reactions associated with codeine are respiratory depression and, to a lesser degree, circulatory depression, respiratory arrest, shock, and cardiac arrest. The most frequently observed adverse reactions with codeine administration include drowsiness, lightheadedness, dizziness, sedation, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, sweating, and constipation,” according to the FDA.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a seizure “is a sudden, uncontrolled electrical disturbance in the brain. It can cause changes in your behavior, movements or feelings, and in levels of consciousness. If you have two or more seizures or a tendency to have recurrent seizures, you have epilepsy.”
There are many types of seizures, though, according to Mayo Clinic, and they “range in severity. Most seizures last from 30 seconds to two minutes. A seizure that lasts longer than five minutes is a medical emergency.”
Mayo Clinic reported of the causes, “Seizures can happen after a stroke, a closed head injury, an infection such as meningitis or another illness. Many times, though, the cause of a seizure is unknown.”
As to any nexus between codeine use and seizures, one journal article explained, “Codeine is a frequently used opioid analgesic, especially when pain control with acetaminophen or nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs fails. Although seizures associated with codeine have been reported, pertinent data are very limited and the exact mechanism is unknown.”
In 2016, Complex reported that the rapper Lil Wayne’s plane had to make an emergency landing in Nebraska “after the rapper suffered a seizure.” He recovered and the cause was not clear, but Complex reported, he had “reportedly drank three bottles of promethazine-codeine syrup—or lean—over the course of a club appearance and after party in Minneapolis the night before the incident.” Lil Wayne said he had a history of epilepsy.
In that article, though, Complex spoke to a doctor who explained that lean can cause seizures in some people because “if you have these two drugs together (Promethazine and Codeine)—one that’s known to suppress all your functions and the other that can cause suppression or a seizure. When you suffer a seizure, the other drug stops your breathing. It’s a dangerous situation.”
Why did Juice WRLD have a seizure (or cardiac arrest, or both)? Again, it’s not clear what triggered Juice WRLD’s critical incident. It may take until the autopsy to know that.
According to WebMD, it’s rare for an epileptic seizure to cause death. “Death from epilepsy is rare. The leading cause of death among people with uncontrolled epilepsy, sudden unexpected death in epilepsy, or SUDEP, kills 1 in 1,000 people who have the disorder,” wrote WebMD. “Scientists don’t know the exact cause of SUDEP. The victim is often found in bed, lying facedown. It may not be clear that the person has had a seizure.”
Bizarrely, videos are making the rounds in which, before Juice’s death, people engaged in a TikTok Lucid Dream video challenge in which they faked what look like seizures, spitting water out of their mouths.
Juice WRLD was open about his addictions. “More recently, I’ve just kind of realized certain things about myself and my coming up, the way that substances played a part in my life, whether it was me doing them or other people,” he explained, according to Hot97. “It’s something that I’m trying to separate myself from.”
4. Juice WRLD’s Mom Tried to Steer Him Toward Gospel Music But He Was Rapping By His Freshman Year of High School
Juice WLRD was raised by his mother. He told Gulf Times that he was raised in a family steeped in gospel music by a “very religious mother.”
Juice WRLD was born Jarad Higgins on December 2, 1998. According to Top40 Charts, his music has been described as “emo-leaning and genre-bending.” He grew up in Calumet Park, Illinois, later moving to Homewood, Illinois, where he attended Homewood-Flossmoor High School. He tried factory work before breaking out in music, but that didn’t last very long. He eventually wouldn’t need it, acing a $3 million deal with Interscope Records. Juice Wrld’s net worth was generally given at around $6 million.
His parents split when he was 3 years old. “She is a very religious person who loves gospel music,” he told the site of his mom. “She stopped me listening to rap. I’d hear some rap thanks to my cousins but not much. I was primarily into pop and rock which my mother considered as more acceptable.”
He learned piano when he was a kid and then guitar and drums. By the time he was a freshman in high school, he was freestyling rap. “My friends said I was good and could become a real rapper so I started taking things really seriously when I was about 16 in my sophomore year at high school. I put my first track on SoundCloud in 2015. It was called Forever and I credited myself as JuicetheKidd,” he told Gulf Times.
5. Social Media Flooded With Tributes as People Expressed Shock Over Juice WRLD’s Untimely Death
People expressed grief and surprise on Twitter. Here is a sampling of the reaction tweets:
“R.I.P JUICE WRLD ONE OF THE MOST TALENTED OF THIS GENERATION WTF.”
“Damn Juice WRLD is dead ?”
“RIP Juice WRLD ima cry mate wtf ):”
“RIP Juice WRLD!!! You will be missed man ??”
“So sad to hear about the news of Juice Wrld passing. Another talented young person gone way too soon. Prayers for his family ??.”
“His music is the only reason I am the strong person I am today . I can’t begin to tweet about how much of an influence Juice WRLD’s music had on me. I love you Jarad. you left too soon.”
Before Juice WRLD, the most famous recent celebrity death from a seizure was Disney star Cameron Boyce. In that case, he was also very young. In that tragedy, the LA coroner eventually revealed that Boyce died from “sudden unexpected death in epilepsy.”
John Travolta’s son Jett also died of a seizure. He was only 16. Jett was autistic and had a history of seizures, according to BBC.
You can see a list of other famous people who died of seizures here. There’s been nothing public to indicate Juice WRLD had a history of seizures or epilepsy before his death.