Heavy D's Last Days

PHOTO: Rapper Heavy D attends T.I.s AKOO Clothing First Annual A King Of Oneself Brunch at The Mansion in this Oct. 2, 2011 file photo taken in Atlanta, Georgia.
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Heavy D seemed poised for a comeback before his unexpected death Wednesday.

The 44-year-old rapper collapsed outside his Beverly Hills, Calif., condominium and was rushed to a Los Angeles hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Ed Winters, a spokesman for the LA County coroner's office, told ABCNews.com that medication for flu-like symptoms were found in Heavy D's home, although Winters declined to name the medication. He said no illegal drugs were found.

An autopsy could begin as soon as today, Winters said, with results from toxicology tests available in six to eight weeks.

Last month, the rapper, known as the "overweight lover" turned up on the BET Hip-Hop Awards, his first live appearance in 15 years.

In September, he digitally released his ninth and final album, "Love Opus."

And he made a cameo in Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller's new movie, "Tower Heist," as his focus had shifted in recent years to TV and movie appearances.

But music was his first love, and it was his free-flowing, playful hip-hop style, a fusion of New Jack Swing and reggae, that made him one of the industry's major players in the late '80s and early '90s.

Heavy D and the Boyz circa 1988.

As hip-hop shifted, however, Heavy D seemed to get left behind.

He poured his energy into taking care of his 13-year-old daughter.

"Of everything Hev was, he was the best father to his daughter. Totally present," longtime music writer dream hampton (who likes a lowercase byline) tweeted. "Hev's daughter is 13. She's probably not had 10 whole mornings in her life when he didn't share breakfast with her. Pray for her."

A former editor for the Source and writer for Vibe and Spin, hampton tweeted that Heavy D "often felt unappreciated in recent years. Hoping he feels the love."

Stephen Hill, the BET executive who oversaw the award's show where Heavy D made his last live appearance, said it took five years to get him back onstage.

"When I first ran into him five years ago ... he said I've never been part of that nostalgia thing. You've never seen me go on tour. You've never seen me be part of a reunion," Hill said in a video posted on BET's website. "He wasn't interested in doing it then."

Heavy D with Janet Jackson at the 1997 Soul Train Awards.

Then earlier this year, Hill ran into the rapper at a benefit for the school that Heavy's daughter attends.

"He talked about how things had changed in his life," Hill said. "And he said, "I think this year is the year."

"He worked for a good month on that routine ... and put together a show that he obsessed over and really worked so hard to make as perfect as possible," Hill continued. "He took entertaining people extremely seriously."

The night of Heavy D's big comeback performance, Hill said he was both nervous and excited but determined to nail his performance.

At dinner afterward, Hill remembered the joy on Heavy's face as he took in the accolades for his performance. "It was something long overdue," he said. "I think he felt that night how important he was to hip-hop."

Saturday before his death, Heavy D sent Hill an email thanking him and saying he was looking forward to continuing their discussion about marketing the rapper to the 35-plus, adult hip-hop audience.

The rapper had just returned from a trip to London, where he saw James Earl Jones in a stage production of "Driving Miss Daisy."

On his Twitter feed, he espoused "relentless optimism," writing, "All glory comes from daring to begin," two days before his death. And "be inspired" on the day he collapsed in front of his Beverly Hills building.

Heavy D was returning from a mall at around 11:30 a.m. and was climbing a set of stairs at his condominium when he experienced trouble breathing, according to the condo staff, who tried to help him to his home.

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