Thousands of fans gather to pay tribute to Juice WRLD on streets of Chicago

"He made music we could all relate to"

Hours after Juice WRLD’s family and closest friends held a funeral for the late rapper, thousands of fans held a vigil for the young star on the streets of Chicago last night (Friday December 13).

Juice WRLD, real name Jarad Anthony Higgins, died last week at the age of 21 after suffering a seizure at Chicago airport. Gathering to honour him on the streets of his hometown last night, many fans carried signs, while others carried bluetooth speakers blaring his music, with dozens more singing along to the rapper in Chicago’s Millennium Park.

Speaking to NME, many said that they felt they had a personal connection with Higgins.

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“The impact he had on me, I can’t even describe,” 22-year-old Jeremy Hill told NME. “I was in a dark place when I got into him and he helped me get over a heartbreak. He really gave voice to the voiceless. It’s like he was one of us.”

Fans gather on the streets of Chicago in honour of Juice WRLD.
Fans gather on the streets of Chicago in honour of Juice WRLD. Credit: Chiarito

Cole Francis, 16, of Chicago, said he was lucky to see Juice WRLD at North Coast Music Festival.

“A lot of his fans never saw him. It’s so sad, but I’m glad I saw him once,” Francis said.

Eddie Bravo, 18, also of Chicago, said Juice WRLD “made music that we all could relate to. I loved him, he made music we all could relate to…All the legends die young.”

Fans gather on the streets of Chicago in honour of Juice WRLD. Credit: Chiarito
Fans gather on the streets of Chicago in honour of Juice WRLD. Credit: Chiarito

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Nicki Minaj also spoke out to pay tribute to Juice WRLD this week, when giving a speech at Billboard’s Women In Music Awards.

“I felt like he was a kindred spirit, and looking back now, I wish I did something differently or said something to help.

“He spoke to me in detail about how in love he was with his girlfriend and how passionate he was about music. And when he was in the studio with me he did so many songs so quickly. He was honest and pure about what he felt and that inspired me.”

After offering her condolences to Higgins’ family, Minaj urged addressed the late rapper’s drug addiction, commenting: “It’s so important that we don’t pass judgment so that people don’t feel ashamed to speak up and ask for help.”

Police confirmed that both drugs and guns were found on Juice WRLD’s plane, and that he was given the opioid antidote Narcan shortly before he died.

Juice WRLD. Credit: NME / Andy Ford

This week also saw the rapper’s family break their silence on his death, and confirm that the 21-year-old was battling an addiction to prescription drugs.

“We loved Jarad with all of our hearts and cannot believe our time with him has been cut short,” they said.

“As he often addressed in his music and to his fans, Jarad battled with prescription drug dependency. Addiction knows no boundaries and its impact goes way beyond the person fighting it. Jarad was a son, brother, grandson, friend and so much more to so many people who wanted more than anything to see him defeat addiction.”

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