DMX immortalized by family and close friends at memorial

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Brittainy Newman

People gather for a "Celebration of Life Memorial" for rapper DMX at Barclays Center, Saturday, April. 24, 2021, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. DMX, whose birth name is Earl Simmons, died April 9 after suffering a "catastrophic cardiac arrest." (AP Photo/Brittainy Newman)

NEW YORK – DMX's legacy was immortalized as a man beloved by his family, honored for his strong faith and respected as one of hip-hop's greatest icons at his memorial service Saturday, with several heartfelt speeches from those who knew the rapper best.

The speakers included friends Swizz Beatz and Nas, as well as his daughter, who rapped in honor of her father.

Kanye West and Busta Rhymes were among the big names who attended the two-hour ceremony at the Barclays Center in New York. The service at the Brooklyn arena was closed to the public and restricted to close friends and family because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a touching moment, DMX’s 15 children gathered on stage to talk — and sometimes rap — about the star as a father who taught them such lessons as “always say thank you,” “be kind to everyone” and that being afraid can sometimes show a person how to be brave.

“Our father is a king. Our father is an icon,” eldest son Xavier Simmons said, adding that he was honored to be his son: “This man deepened my ability to love.”

Tashera Simmons, DMX's ex-wife, told the audience: “Everything he did, he did for you all. He always wanted to please you. He always wanted to give you his best show.”

“What he wants you to do," she said, “is love Jesus the same way he did. Love his babies. Love his family.”

West’s Sunday Service Choir kicked off the ceremony with a gospel performance. The hoodie sweatshirt-wearing ensemble performed a few songs, including their arrangement of “Excellent” and Soul II Soul's “Keep On Movin’." The choir took the stage during other moments of the ceremony, performing “Ultralight Beam" and Whitney Houston's assisted vocals on the hymn “Jesus Loves Me."