No Role Models: A DMX Tribute

Growing up, I didn’t have anybody to look up to. My father was abusive and left when I was 2 to never be seen again. He died when I was 5. My mother had another abusive boyfriend that tried to use me to get closer to her. I had a cool Stepfather but he passed away after 2 years. Then kidney failure forced my mother to be in and out of the hospital for 6 years. Throughout my life, I was pretty much fending for myself. I felt like I was alone in this world. One day when I was driving somewhere with my mother, I hear a song that makes me feel seen. I might have been no older than 7 or 8 years old. The first words of the song were “what must I go through to show you shit is real.” When I heard that, I immediately paid attention. I felt like there was somebody out there that related to me. This happened to be my introduction to DMX.

DMX made me feel like it was possible to be successful without any guidance. After all, he had one of the biggest songs on the radio, and that year he dropped 2 #1 albums. Throughout my childhood, I resented the fact that I had no one to look to for advice. It made me more driven to be successful because I had to beat the odds. When I discovered football, I played with a chip on my shoulder. I used the field to express how great I wanted to be. I wanted everybody that left me to wish they never did. If you woulda asked me then, I would have been proud to say I had no father or no male role models to look up to. I felt like I was on a purposeful mission to prove myself. Deep down, though, I just wanted somebody to help me accomplish my dreams but I was too prideful to seek guidance. I felt like everybody I would ask would just treat me the way I was treated in the past.

What connected me to DMX was his passion. DMX’s background story was one of the sadder things I’ve heard in my life. Abandoned by both parents, his mentor offered him crack at 14, DMX has been on his own his entire life. But one thing he never lost was faith. When he would recite a prayer, he could make an atheist a believer. Even though his lyrics were violent, they were just an expression of what he had to go through fending for himself in Yonkers, NY. Since the 1st day I heard him, he became my favorite rapper. He gave me hope that not only can you be successful with no guidance, but you can also keep a pure heart along the journey. I never wanted the world to make me a monster and DMX gave me hope that I don’t have to be. When he passed away, I realized he was the one I looked up to. Yes, DMX had his own issues with substance abuse and the law, but what made him one to admire was his fight. He never gave up on himself. As I go through my journey, I just hope to have half the faith and fight that DMX had. Thank you, X.

Isa Abdul-Quddus is a former NFL Athlete, playing 6 years at safety for the Saints, Lions and Dolphins. After suffering a career ending injury, he took his focus to sharing his story, emphasizing on mental health. Isa also loves music (Hip Hop and R&B), film and reading.