The year 2023 has seen the death of numerous renowned black celebrities, creating a hole in the entertainment and music industries. From actors and musicians to athletes and activists, their contributions to their respective industries have had a lasting impression on popular culture.
While death is inevitably a part of life, that truth doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye to those who have died.
We celebrate the lives and accomplishments of some of the black celebrities who will die in 2023.
Notable Black people we’ve lost in 2023…
Rest In Power: Notable Black Folks Who We’ve Lost In 2023 was originally published on blackamericaweb.com
1. Irish Grinstead, 702 singer (pictured in middle)Source:Getty
Irish Grinstead of the popular 1990s girl group 702 has died at the age of 43. Grinstead’s sister and 702 groupmate, LeMisha Grinstead, confirmed the news via social media on Saturday, September 16.
In a stunning black and white photo of Irish, LeMisha confirmed that her sister died following a “long battle.” She wrote on Instagram, “It is with great sadness that I have to let you know that my beautiful sister and friend has passed away this evening. She has had a long battle and she is finally at peace.” LaMisha then added that her talented sister was “as bright as the stars.”
2. Clarence Avant, Legendary Music ExecutiveSource:Getty
Clarence Avant, whose connections and impact in the worlds of music, sports, entertainment and politics deemed him as the “Black Godfather,” has died at the age of 92.
As reported by Variety, the music executive peacefully passed away Sunday (Aug. 13) at his home in Los Angeles. A cause of death was not provided at press time.
“It is with a heavy heart that the Avant/Sarandos family announce the passing of Clarence Alexander Avant,” his children, Nicole and Alexander, and his son-in-law, Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos said in a statement.
“Through his revolutionary business leadership, Clarence became affectionately known as ‘the Black Godfather’ in the worlds of music, entertainment, politics, and sports. Clarence leaves behind a loving family and a sea of friends and associates that have changed the world and will continue to change the world for generations to come. The joy of his legacy eases the sorrow of our loss.”
3. Gangsta Boo, 43Source:Getty
Mitchell was the second woman to join Three 6 Mafia in the early ’90s, and after her departure from the group, she continued to record mixtapes and appear on singles from the likes of Gucci Mane, La Chat, and more. When she was fifteen, she contributed to Three 6’s Mystic Stylez album and remained a fixture in Memphis through her untimely passing.
4. Magoo, RapperSource:Getty
Rapper Magoo, best known for his lighthearted appearances on tracks like “Up Jumps Da Boogie” and “Luv 2 Luv U,” has passed away. He was 50 years old.
R&B star Ginuwine, who worked closely with Timbaland in the 90s, shared his condolences over the passing of Magoo.
“Times get rough but we keep on pushing just heard some news I hope it ain’t true …I just want everyone to know that time is short love who you love and make sure they know it,” he wrote on Instagram Sunday (August 13).
Magoo and Timbo became acquainted long before landing in the public spotlight. The pair became friends in 1989 and, through a shared passion for music, later formed a rap group. While Timbaland saw his star shine through production work with many of the biggest names in music, he remained a partner-in-rhyme with Magoo, and their crew expanded to acts like Aaliyah, Ginuwine and Missy Elliott.
5. DJ Casper ‘Cha Cha Slide’ CreatorSource:Getty
DJ Casper, a Chicago native who birthed an international dance craze with the “Cha Cha Slide,” has passed away. He was 58 years old.
Born Willie Perry Jr, Casper had been diagnosed with kidney and liver cancer in 2016. His time in the limelight began with the “Cha Cha Slides” released in 2000.
The record, which was accompanied by a dance, topped music charts in the United States and abroad. Even twenty years later, the track remains a popular song of choice at parties, celebrations, and sporting events.
6. Tori Bowie, three-time Olympic medalistSource:Getty
Former 100-meter world champion and three-time Olympic medalist Tori Bowie died at the age of 32, her management company announced Wednesday.
Icon Management Inc. statement:
“We’re devastated to share the very sad news that Tori Bowie has passed away,” Icon Management said in a statement on Twitter. “We’ve lost a client, dear friend, daughter and sister. Tori was a champion … a beacon of light that shined so bright! We’re truly heartbroken and our prayers are with the family and friends.”
Bowie had a wonderful performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics where she won silver in the 100 and bronze in the 200.
7. Harry Belafonte, singer, actor and civil rights championSource:Getty
Harry Belafonte, a barrier-breaking entertainer and a powerful pillar in the fight for civil rights, has joined the ancestors.
Longtime spokesman Ken Sunshine confirmed to the New York Times that Belafonte died in his Manhattan home on Tuesday morning (April 25) of congestive heart failure. He was 96.
Born in Harlem to West Indian immigrants on March 1, 1927, Belafonte was arguably the most successful Caribbean-American artist in pop music. His 1956 album, Calypso, topped the Billboard album chart shortly after release and stayed there for 31 weeks. That album is said to be the first to sell a million copies.
8. Otis Redding III, GuitaristSource:Getty
Otis Redding III, the youngest son of the iconic soul singer who became a revered musician in his own right, died at the age of 59.
His sister, Karla Redding-Andrews, posted a statement on the Facebook page of the family charity, the Otis Redding Foundation:
9. Lance Reddick, ActorSource:Getty
Lance Reddick, the actor widely known for his role in the hit cable crime drama, “The Wire,” has died, according to reports.
First reported by TMZ, Reddick was found dead at his home in California on Friday morning.
TMZ reported that law enforcement said the death of the 60-year-old “appears to be natural.”
10. Brandon Smiley, 32Source:Getty
Brandon Smiley, the son of radio host and stand-up comedian Rickey Smiley, has died. The elder Smiley shared the news via social media but no cause of death was shared.
Smiley, 54, shared the news via his Instagram account in a video clip that was captioned “My Son Passed Away” with the post’s caption asking for warm thoughts for Brandon Smiley’s mother and daughter.
11. Willis Reed, NBA LegendSource:Getty
Willis Reed, a former 7-time All-Star for the New York Knicks, has passed away. He was 80 years old.
Reed was drafted in the second round by the Knicks in the 1964 NBA draft. He was that year’s Rookie of the Year and went to seven straight All-Star games. He also made the All-NBA Team five times. The former center and power forward helped New York win titles in 1970 and 1973, and was the league MVP in the 1969-70 season.
12. Jim Brown, Hall of Famer, Browns LegendSource:Getty
One of the best professional and collegiate football players of all time, Cleveland Browns legend Jim Brown died at 87.
Monique Brown, Brown’s wife, revealed his death in an Instagram post on Friday afternoon. Brown “passed peacefully” in their Los Angeles home on Thursday night, she added.
“To the world he was an activist, actor, and football star,” the post read. “To our gamily he was a loving and wonderful husband, father, and grandfather. Our hearts are broken…”