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The rapper DMX, born Earl Simmons, performs during the BET Hip Hop Awards in Atlanta on Oct. 1, 2011. He died April 9 at the age of 50 in a hospital in White Plains, New York. (AP/Goldman) The rapper DMX, born Earl Simmons, performs during the BET Hip Hop Awards in Atlanta on Oct. 1, 2011. He died April 9 at the age of 50 in a hospital in White Plains, New York. (AP/Goldman)

The rapper DMX, born Earl Simmons, performs during the BET Hip Hop Awards in Atlanta on Oct. 1, 2011. He died April 9 at the age of 50 in a hospital in White Plains, New York. (AP/Goldman)

Bill McCarthy
By Bill McCarthy April 12, 2021

Fact-checking unproven claims that rapper DMX suffered heart attack after getting COVID-19 vaccine

If Your Time is short

  • The rapper DMX died April 9 after suffering a heart attack days earlier. Statements from his family and the hospital did not mention a COVID-19 vaccine. Murray Richman, DMX’s longtime attorney, told PolitiFact that DMX did not die from a COVID-19 vaccine.

  • The claims that DMX received his COVID-19 vaccine days before his heart attack trace back to an article quoting an unnamed family member. NewsGuard said the website in question “frequently publishes unsubstantiated claims based on unclear sourcing.”

  • The CDC wrote that it found “no evidence that vaccination contributed to patient deaths” after reviewing months of reports to its vaccine safety surveillance program.

DMX, the raspy-voiced rapper behind several hip-hop anthems such as "X Gon Give It to Ya" and "Party Up (Up In Here)," died April 9 at a hospital in New York, where he had been on life support after suffering a heart attack days earlier. The rapper, born Earl Simmons, was 50.

The hospital where DMX died said in a statement that he died "peacefully with family present after suffering a catastrophic cardiac arrest."

It is not clear what preceded the rapper’s heart attack. But in the days surrounding DMX’s death, social media users circulated posts suggesting that the rapper died days after getting vaccinated against COVID-19. The implication: the vaccine made his heart fail.

Various social media posts sharing the same headline — "DMX Received Covid Vaccine Days Before Heart Attack" — got tens of thousands of interactions on Facebook and Instagram, according to CrowdTangle, a social media insights tool.

A screenshot of an April 8 Instagram post sharing an MTO News headline about DMX.

The posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The source of the viral headline was MTO News, a gossip news site. One day before DMX died, the site quoted an unnamed family member as saying that DMX got his COVID-19 shot once he became eligible to receive it "so that he could go travel and perform, stuff like that."

PolitiFact could not verify the accuracy of the quotes or whether DMX was recently vaccinated before he died, as the headline claimed. MTO News did not respond to a request for comment, and our inquiries to DMX’s manager also went unanswered.

But Murray Richman, DMX’s longtime attorney, told PolitiFact that the rap icon did not die of COVID-19 or because of a COVID-19 vaccine.

"Earl Simmons did not die of COVID or a COVID vaccine," Richman said. "Earl Simmons died of a heart attack, spurred on by I don’t know what, but certainly not COVID or the vaccine."

The MTO News article does not provide proof that DMX died because he received the COVID-19 vaccine. The statements from his family and the hospital did not mention a vaccine, and Richman had told several news outlets that he was not sure what caused the heart attack even before the MTO News article published. (He was responding to a tabloid report that said DMX had suffered a drug overdose.)

"You can get a COVID vaccine and still die from something else," said Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

MTO News "frequently publishes unsubstantiated claims based on unclear sourcing," according to NewsGuard, a service that reviews and rates news and information sites according to nine basic journalistic criteria. NewsGuard identified several articles on MTO News that made false claims about celebrities’ sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as articles that embedded a doctored video about former President Donald Trump’s hair.

In 2020, PolitiFact rated False an MTO News headline attributing a fabricated quote about George Zimmerman to Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

The claim about DMX mirrors other social media posts that wrongly blamed COVID-19 vaccines for the deaths of other celebrities, such as baseball legend Hank Aaron. Aaron died after receiving his vaccine, but not because of it, we found. 

The U.S. administered over 167 million COVID-19 vaccine doses between Dec. 14, 2020, and April 5, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the CDC’s vaccine safety surveillance program received 2,794 reports of death, affecting 0.00167% of recipients. 

The agency wrote that after reviewing death certificates as well as autopsy and medical records for those people, it found "no evidence that vaccination contributed to patient deaths."

Our ruling

Instagram posts claimed, "DMX received COVID vaccine days before heart attack."

The rumor can be sourced to a website that purported to quote an unnamed family member. Statements from the rapper’s family and the hospital that kept him on life support after a heart attack did not mention the coronavirus or a COVID-19 vaccine. 

DMX’s attorney told PolitiFact that the rapper did not die because of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Because this claim lacks supporting evidence, we rate it False.

UPDATE, April 15, 2021: This fact-check was updated to reflect comments from Murray Richman, DMX’s attorney, confirming that the rapper did not die from a COVID-19 vaccine. Our ruling remains the same.

Our Sources

Instagram post (archived), April 9, 2021

Aubrey Huff on Twitter (archived), April 9, 2021

MTO News, "DMX Received Covid Vaccine Days Before Heart Attack - Family Says NO DRUGS! (EXCLUSIVE)," April 8, 2021

Washington News Post, "DMX Received Covid Vaccine Days Before Heart Attack – Family Says NO DRUGS! (EXCLUSIVE)," April 8, 2021

Snopes, "Did DMX Take COVID-19 Vaccine Days Before Heart Attack?" April 9, 2021

The Washington Post, "DMX, chart-topping rapper with gruff voice and hardscrabble life, dies at 50," April 9, 2021

The Associated Press, "‘Nothing less than a giant’: Rapper-actor DMX dies at 50," April 9, 2021

People, "DMX Dead at 50 a Week After Star Suffered Heart Attack: 'A Warrior Who Fought Till the Very End,'" April 9, 2021

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Selected Adverse Events Reported after COVID-19 Vaccination," April 6, 2021 

TMZ, "PROGNOSIS 'NOT LOOKING GOOD' AFTER OD ... Kids Flying In," April 3, 2021

PolitiFact, "Claim blaming COVID vaccine for Hank Aaron, Marvin Hagler deaths lacks evidence," March 16, 2021

PolitiFact, "Deaths after vaccination don’t prove that COVID-19 vaccine is lethal," Feb. 16, 2021

PolitiFact, "No evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine caused Hank Aaron’s death," Jan. 16, 2021

PolitiFact, "No evidence Patrick Mahomes said he thinks George Zimmerman is innocent," Feb. 6, 2020

Email interview with Paul A. Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and chair of vaccinology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, April 12, 2021

Email correspondence with Joe Danielewicz, broadcast editor for NewsGuard, April 12, 2021

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Fact-checking unproven claims that rapper DMX suffered heart attack after getting COVID-19 vaccine

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