By Jon Wiederhorn
Friends and family of Kris Kross's Chris Kelly gathered in Atlanta Thursday to say goodbye to the rapper, who died May 1 from a suspected drug overdose at the age of 34.
Kelly’s musical partner and childhood friend Chris "Daddy Mac" Smith, Da Brat, members of Xscape, and Jermaine Dupri attended the funeral, which was held at Jackson Baptist Memorial Church.
Smith was visibly shaken when speaking about his childhood friend. Supported at the podium by his sister, he said, "This has been a struggle for me every day." He repeatedly broke into tears during his touching eulogy, at one point turning to Kelly’s mother and saying, "Donna, you've always been like a mother to me. I know I can't fill Chris's shoes, but I'll always be there for you."
Although he was distraught, Smith said that he's coming to terms with the death of his friend. "This morning, peace came over me because I know Chris is in heaven. I'm gonna do my part to make sure Chris's legacy will live on. He was a true friend...I just wanna say I love you, man...and I'm gonna miss you dearly. I would say Kris Kross forever, but without Chris, it ain't never gonna be the same. But I hope our legacy for hip-hop is never forgotten, but I'm gonna do my part to make sure Chris's memory lives on."
To pay tribute to their late friend, several mourners including Da Brat, Smith, and Dupri wore their pants backwards, just as Kris Kross used to do.
The funeral began with the Kris Kross song "Live and Die for Hip Hop" playing over the loudspeakers. After seeing her son’s body in an open casket, Kelly's mother, Donna Kelly Pratte, was bereft and had to be attended to by nurses at the funeral after the coffin was closed, reported accessatlanta.com.
Chico DeBarge, Keke Wyatt, and Xscape singers LoTocha and Tamika Scott sang during the service for Kelly.
Dupri discovered Kelly and Smith singing in a mall when they were 12 and 11 years old, respectively. "It was like we were just kids that were into the same things and he played video games. He played basketball. He played baseball. He played football. He rapped. He swam," Dupri told Us Weekly in a statement. "He was just a natural kid, like a person that you want to be around at all times because he would never not want to be doing anything."
DJ Nabs (a.k.a. Youtha Fowler), an artist that worked closely with Kris Kross from the start of their career, also spoke at the funeral. "Rest now," he said. “The fight is over."
Kelly was found unconscious in his Atlanta-area home and died from a suspected drug overdose. Reportedly, he had been abusing cocaine and heroin nights before his death, but the official cause of death won’t be known until toxicology tests results are announced.