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Proof in August 2005
Background information
Birth name Deshaun Dupree Holton
Also known as Big Proof, Derty Harry
Born October 2, 1973(1973-10-02)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Origin Detroit, Michigan
Died April 11, 2006 (aged 32)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Genres Hip hop
Occupations Rapper, songwriter
Years active 1992–2006
Labels Shady, Iron Fist
Associated acts D12, Eminem, Dogmatic, Royce Da 5'9", Obie Trice, Bizarre, Swift, Kuniva, Kon Artis, 50 Cent, J Dilla, Purple Gang, Promatic, 5 Elementz, Soul Intent, The Game

DeShaun Dupree Holton (October 2, 1973 – April 11, 2006), better known as Proof, was a Detroit rapper and member of the hip hop groups Goon Sqwad, 5 Elementz, Promatic, and D12. He was a close associate of hip hop star Eminem.


Early career

Proof first rose to national prominence as a part of the rap group D12, which he was instrumental in forming, although he had achieved a degree of success prior. He was featured in The Source's "Unsigned Hype" column in 1999 and came close to winning the 1998 Blaze Battle. His first television appearance was in the Aaliyah music video for "Age Ain't Nothing But a Number". In 2000, Proof toured along with Eminem, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg in the Up In Smoke Tour as a hype man rapper for Eminem. He rose to prominence in 2001 with the release of Devil's Night, D12's debut album on Interscope Records. The following year, Proof collaborated with Dogmatic on Promatic and joined Eminem's "Anger Management" tour in support of the release.[1] He appeared in the film 8 Mile along with Eminem and Xzibit; although in the film the character based on him, Future, was portrayed by Mekhi Phifer, he played Lil' Tic, a freestyle rapper who trounces the lead character with his battle verse.[2] To capitalize on the publicity from the film, Proof released a six-song EP called Electric CoolAid: Acid Testing.[3] Proof also had a cameo alongside the rest of D12 in The Longest Yard appearing as "Basketball Convicts" in the credits.

Solo work

Proof released a solo album featuring collaborations with Eminem, 50 Cent, Method Man, Nate Dogg, B-Real of Cypress Hill, T3 of Slum Village, Obie Trice, Royce Da 5'9" and other members of D12 on his own Iron Fist Records label in conjunction with Alliance Entertainment's IDN Distribution. Proof said that he did not produce the record with Shady Records or Aftermath because he wanted to "build his own thing". Called Searching for Jerry Garcia, the album was released on August 9, 2005 on his own Iron Fist Records label 10 years to the day following Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia's death.[4] This release did not make a significant impact on the charts despite its list of guest appearances.

Originally, every song title on the album was to be named after a celebrity. "Jump Biatch" was originally titled "Eric Clapton Jr." (Proof changed the title when he realized that Eric Clapton's son fell to his death from a 53rd-story window.[5]) Another song possibly meant for the album was "Neil Armstrong", which can be found on Proof's mixtape I Miss The Hip Hop Shop.

Proof has said that he considered Jerry Garcia to be a "genius" who suffered from common character flaws. Proof has stated his admiration for Garcia's eclectic style, saying that Garcia "went against the grain".[6] The album received favorable reviews, which commented on its "eclectic" and "introspective" nature.[7]

Proof stated how he wanted to be remembered in an interview with shortly after his album release; "I want people to say that I was a true artist", "That I did it best and stayed true to Hip Hop roots" and "I'd want people to understand I did it for the love not for the charts."[8]

Proof also recorded a track with Twiztid for their album Independance Day shortly before his passing. The song is entitled "How I Live" and features Jamie Madrox, Monoxide Child and Proof. The Album was released July 3rd 2007.[1]


On April 11, 2006, Proof was killed by a gunshot to the head at the CCC Club in Detroit, Michigan by club bouncer Mario Etheridge after Proof fatally shot U.S. Army veteran Keith Bender, Jr.

While playing a game Proof and Bender got into a heated argument. After a physical altercation, Etheridge fired his gun into the air to try and stop the situation, but Proof shot Bender in the head. Etheridge, who was Bender's cousin, then shot Proof three times in the head and chest. Proof was killed instantly, and Bender died a week later. Proof's blood alcohol content at the time of his death was .32 percent, four times the level that qualifies someone for a drunken driving conviction; he had no other drugs in his system. Bender's family began a wrongful death suit against Proof's estate. Etheridge was held by authorities to have been acting in lawful defense of another man; however, he was found guilty of carrying a concealed weapon and discharging a firearm inside a building.[9][10][11][12][13] Etheridge was released in October 2006 after being sentenced to time served and a $2000 fine.[14]

Several months later, hip-hop magazine XXL published an alternative account of the evening in a feature article interviewing Proof's friend, Mudd (Reginald Moorer), who accompanied Proof on the night of the shooting and claimed to have brought the gun that was used to kill Bender.[15] Mudd claimed that his group went to the CCC Club after going to a strip club, began drinking and that Proof played pool against Bender. He observed Proof and Bender arguing, noting that it was "ordinary for Proof to get drunk and fight". After they were separated, Mudd claimed Bender hit Proof and a fight between the two broke out. Shortly afterward, Mudd saw Etheridge shoot his gun straight up into the air to break up the fight. Proof then demanded Mudd's gun, and after he refused, pulled the weapon from Mudd's pants and also fired into the air. Mudd claimed that Bender charged Proof, and that in the scuffle shots were fired that hit both Bender and Proof.[15]




  1. ^ "Proof: Reviews, Discography...". June 18, 2004. Retrieved 2006-04-12. 
  2. ^ "8 Mile (2002)". Retrieved 2006-04-12. 
  3. ^ David Friedman. "Interview with Proof". Murder Dog. Retrieved 2006-04-12. 
  4. ^ "DeShaun Holton: Information". Retrieved 2006-04-12. 
  5. ^ "Proof: Body of the Life Force". 
  6. ^ "Proof "Searching for Jerry Garcia" Review". Hip Hop Galaxy. Retrieved 2006-04-12. 
  7. ^ "Proof - Searching For Jerry Garcia Album Review". Hip Hop DX. Retrieved 2006-04-12. 
  8. ^ "The Proof Is In The Music". 
  9. ^ Lawrence Van Gelder, Arts Briefly: Rapper Who Was Killed Fired First Shot, Police Say, The New York Times, April 14, 2006, Accessed November 17, 2008.
  10. ^ Lawrence Van Gelder, Arts Briefly: Another Death in Shooting At Detroit Nightclub, The New York Times, April 19, 2006, Accessed November 17, 2008.
  11. ^ Lawrence Van Gelder, Arts Briefly: Wrongful Death Suit Against Rapper's Estate, The New York Times, May 3, 2006, Accessed November 17, 2008.
  12. ^ Lawrence Van Gelder, Arts Briefly: Proof's Killer Convicted, The New York Times, September 22, 2006, Accessed November 17, 2008.
  13. ^ "Proof's Estate sued for damages by Bender's family". BBC News. May 4, 2006. 
  14. ^ "Proof's Killer Sentenced to Time Served & $2000 Fine". RapSearch. .
  15. ^ a b Brendan Frederick, The Death of Proof: Bare Witness,XXL, October 2, 2006, Accessed November 17, 2008.

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