LOS ANGELES -- 50 Cent promised the world that he’d get rich or die trying.
is going to do him one better.
Darius was born with Duchene muscular dystrophy (DMD), a disease that has robbed him of his muscle control and will eventually take his life. DMD is the number one genetic killer in the world, and almost no one with the disease lives beyond 30, but that hasn’t stopped the 19-year-old Darius from living a fuller life than most.
“Honestly, I don’t let it affect me,” said Darius about living with DMD. “My mother always told me that when things get hard you gotta keep on, and that’s what I’m doing. Right now I’m trying to save other peoples lives.”
At the tender ago of 15 Darius, who had never left his native Georgia, decided to take a cross-country road trip with his friends to convince
to let Pimp My Ride trick out his wheelchair. Darius and his crew hoped Pimp My Ride would not only put a sound system on his wheelchair that would rattle windows a couple blocks away, but also raise awareness about DMD, a disease that takes a tragic toll on young people, among MTV’s primarily teenage audience.
”Pimp My Ride had 70 million viewers, some of them kids who live and die with DMD,” said Darius. “Plus, I really like cars.”
Though MTV ultimately refused to help Darius, the trip ended up being a celebration of life that was turned into an award-winning film. The documentary of the trip, the aptly titled
Darius Goes West
, has surprisingly turned into a full time job for Darius and his friends. He now travels around the country screening the film and working to raise money for Duchene muscular dystrophy research. The film and constant touring has turned Darius into a minor celebrity, but he insists that ”If I’m successful it’s all been about helping people in the future. I ain’t getting nothing out of this, I do it because I really care.”
Like any mult-tasking modern day hustler, Darius isn’t content being merely a movie star in the making, he’s also beginning a career in hip-hop. Darius Goes West is filled with Darius’ introspective, dope and often hilarious rhymes, and now he’s decided to make hip-hop his future career.
”My brother Mario [who passed away from DMD] introduced me to hip-hop.
, all that. I loved it because they were telling a story, and when I’m making music I feel like I can get away. I can tell everyone about my life and let them feel what I feel,” said Darius.
Darius is currently working with several Southern-based producers to make his debut album. But before Darius starts trying to knock Lil Wayne of the top of the charts, he’s first on a mission to sell one million copies of Darius Goes West in 2009, a feat that would raise about $17 million – or to put it another way, 17 times what Ray J got for his sex tape. Better yet, all of that money goes to a good cause: funding research that will hopefully find a cure for DMD and help save thousands of lives worldwide.
Click on the links below to learn more about Darius, purchase a copy of Darius Goes West, or make a donation to help raise funding. MTV may not have been willing to help, but the hip-hop community takes care of its own.
Listen to Darius’ new track
On A Mission