November 19, 2011 01:32:37 GMT
P. Diddy, Jay-Z, Usher, Queen Latifah, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith are among the celebrities attending the service at the Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, New York.
Heavy D has been laid to rest. On Friday, November 18, around 1,500 friends and family of the late "Now That We Found Love" rapper gathered together at a private funeral service taking place at the Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, New York to bid farewell to the 44-year-old and celebrate his life.
Among the stars paying their final respects was longtime friend P. Diddy. During his speech, the music mogul said, "Heavy D was the first person to believe in me. He's the person who made me who I am today." He also shared to those in attendance, "I had an idea that I wanted to manage Heavy D. The only problem was I didn't know him."
Sporting a black sling for his shoulder surgery, Diddy continued, "I just knew we were from the same town. So I made a plan to bump into him. So I would stand on his block hoping he would stop and roll down his window. He would pull up and talk to me and I would be his manager. That didn't work well, because he kept driving by."
"But then I found out about a pizza shop he liked. So I would hang out there. My plan worked. I met him at the pizza shop. He was the type of guy to hear you out. I asked him if he would help me meet Andre Harrell so I could get an internship at Uptown. He got me the chance to work with Andre and the rest is history. A lot of our dreams came true, thank God."
Diddy wasn't the only star attending the service. Jay-Z, Usher, John Legend, Denzel Washington, Queen Latifah and Hollywood couple Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith were spotted among the guests, while Johnny Gill, Yolanda Adams, Anthony Hamilton and Kim Burrell were among the performers.
Gill, in particular, couldn't hold back his tears as he approached the altar. "Just want to say to Heavy: Job well done," he said before delivering a powerful rendition of the gospel hit "Never Would Have Made It." He was backed up by Burrell and a choir for the performance. Meanwhile, Hamilton covered Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come".
Beside the stars, the funeral service was also highlighted by the reading of President Barack Obama's note of condolence. Inviting Heavy D's 11-year-old daughter Xea Myers to the altar, Rev. Al Sharpton said, "I want to read you something and I want you to keep this, Xea," before reading the letter.
"We extend our heartfelt condolences at this difficult time. He will be remembered for his infectious optimism and many contributions to American music," the letter read. "Please know that you and your family will be in our thoughts and prayers." Sharpton then added, "That's from the President of the United States of America. I want you to frame that."
Heavy D was pronounced dead on Tuesday afternoon at Los Angeles' Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after being found collapsed on the walkway of his Beverly Hills home. The Los Angeles County Coroner's office refused to announce a preliminary cause of death, but it was noted that the rapper "had what appeared to be like flu-like symptoms" before his death.