Darius Weems' Next Chapter: Rap Star With Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Tries Clinical Trial


The California trip began as a bit of a lark. MTV's "Pimp My Ride" was popular, so Logan joked that maybe if they could get Darius from his home in Athens, Ga., to California, West Coast Customs, the company featured on the show, would "pimp" his wheelchair.

"I was definitely excited about the whole thing," Darius said. "But one thing that came to mind was how are we going to get the money for this, you know, how are we doing to convince our parents to let us go on this road trip."

But they did, and the trip became a documentary, "Dairus Goes West," which Logan directed and produced. Even though West Coast Customs refused to "pimp" Darius' wheelchair, the journey was a stunning success. The documentary is partly a coming of age story and partly a story of friendship and gratitude.

"He'll motivate me to do something that I never thought I would do," Darius said of Smalley. "Him actually taking on the goal of watching over me when my brother passed away, so he definitely gave me a lot of hope and being that brother when I lost my brother."

PHOTOS: Darius' Incredible Journey: From California to Clinical Trial

Dairus and his friends traveled to the Grand Canyon, where the view brought tears to his eyes, and to the Pacific Ocean, where Darius stood on his own for the first time in almost four years.

The power of the film is drawn from Darius and Smalley's incredible friendship and their belief in one another. The tale of two young men, who couldn't be more different on the outside or more alike on the inside.

"I think that Darius and I have a mutual respect for each other," Smalley said. "It's just like some strange mixture of brotherhood, parenthood, old married couple, best friends, like our relationship runs the gambit. I love him more than anybody and we just have so much fun together and it feels really good because it feels like we are making a difference."

Though the years, Darius and Logan have given each other a lot of laughs. One of the most poignant moments in the film happened by accident. While visiting the San Francisco Zoo, Logan and the other guys on the trip dared him to eat a spoonful of super-spicy wasabi, something he had never heard of before. He took the challenge and immediately started spitting as his friends collapsed into giggles. And that is part of the film's message: despite his illness, Darius is just one of the guys.

"When we were filming and we were all in the restaurant, and there was a lady by us and she thought they were picking on me and stuff like that," Darius said. "[But] it shows a good message and they are treating me like others."

It is that scene perhaps, more than any other in the documentary, that captivates the kids in the schools Darius and his friends now visit to talk about his journey. His story has become a popular way to raise money for medical research for DMD.

"Some schools from time to time do the wasabi challenge," Darius said. "I don't know how they ate the spoonful of wasabi like that. It's crazy, know what I mean, seeing people motivated enough and being brave enough to take a spoonful of wasabi."

So far, Darius has raised more than $2 million for the cause, much of it to the sound of laughter.

For more information about Darius, his cause and his clinical trial, visit our resources page HERE

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 17779732.
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...