Eminem’s father, Marshall Bruce Mathers Jr., has reportedly died at the age of 67. Family sources told TMZ that Mathers Jr., who went by Bruce, passed away at his Fort Wayne, Indiana area home after suffering a heart attack.
Though Eminem was named Marshall Bruce Mathers III after Mathers Jr., he barely knew his father. Mathers Jr. married Eminem’s mother, Debbie Nelson, when she was just 15 and he was 22. They had their son two years later, and shortly after split up. Debbie and the future rapper moved to Detroit, while Mathers Jr. resettled in California, where he had two more children.
Many of Eminem’s early lyrics addressed his father’s abandonment. In the classic “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” off 2002’s The Eminem Show, he rapped, “My f*ggot father must have had his panties up in a bunch/ ‘Cause he split, I wonder if he even kissed me goodbye/ No I don’t, on second thought I just fucking wished he would die/ I look at Hailie, and I couldn’t picture leaving her side.”
As a child, Eminem would write letters to his father, but they would frequently come back marked “return to sender.” After Em made it big, Mathers Jr. attempted to reach out via a letter published in The Mirror in which he claimed it was Debbie would walked out on him and not the other way around. “I don’t need or want your money,” he wrote. “But the one ambition left in my life is to give you a hug and tell you I’ve always loved you.”
At that point, Eminem had chosen to stay away from Mathers Jr. “I heard my dad is trying to get in contact with me, but not now. I never got one letter,” he told The Mirror. “I never got anything from him and I think he could have at least tried to write. He could have done something — made an effort.”
Mathers Jr. is survived by his two other children, Michael and Sarah, who would respectively be approximately 41 and 39.