Kanye West's mother, the inspiration for much of the rapper's career, died Saturday "as the result of complications from a cosmetic surgical procedure," according to her publicist, who spoke to BBC News.
Preliminary information from officials at Los Angeles' Centinela Freeman Regional Medical Center, where Donda West passed away, indicated she died from "complications of surgery," Lt. Fred Corral told The Associated Press. An autopsy was to be conducted by Wednesday, Corral said.
Donda West was 58-years-old. The former chairwoman of Chicago State University's English department was known for the strong bond she shared with her son, by whose side she was often seen at parties and award shows.
Kanye, 30, often spoke of his close relationship with his mother, who raised him alone after her husband left when Kanye was 3.
She was the inspiration for the song "Hey Mama" on Kanye's 2005 album, "Late Registration," in which he sings: "Hey Mama, I wanna scream so loud for you, cuz I'm so proud of you. … I appreciate what you allowed for me. I just want you to be proud of me."
Donda frequently defended her son against critics who accused him of penning misogynistic lyrics and other purported transgressions.
"I support my baby," she said in a Chicago Sun-Times interview. "He is telling how he feels and he is speaking the truth as he sees it."
In May, she published the book "Raising Kanye: Life Lessons from the Mother of a Hip-Hop Star," in which she paid homage to her famous son.
Donda served as chief executive of West Brands LLC, the parent company of her son's business enterprises, and as chairwoman of the Kanye West Foundation, an educational nonprofit that works to decrease drop-out rates and improve literacy.
Kanye told The Associated Press in August that he and his mother worked together to devise the foundation's first program, Loop Dreams, which helps public school students get involved in music.
"Me and my mother were discussing ways to give back and came up with the concept," he said.
Donda worked in higher education for 31 years, before leaving academia in 2004 to help manage her son's career, according to a biography on the Kanye West Foundation's Web site.
She began working at Chicago State University in 1980 and eventually chaired the school's English department, according to the site. She started her teaching career in the early 1970s as an instructor at Brown College in Atlanta.
Kanye's writing partner Rhymefest lamented Donda's death Sunday in an appearance on Chicago radio station WCGI.
"She was everyone's mom," Rhymefest said. "A spirit never dies, a spirit lasts forever."
Reporting contributed by The Associated Press' Jacob Adelman, Nekesa Mumbi Moody and Sophia Tareen.