16 Black Celebrities You Probably Didn’t Know Died Of AIDS

16 Black Celebrities You Probably Didn’t Know Died Of AIDS

1. Kenny Greene

Kenny Greene was a songwriter and lead singer of the 90s R&B group Intro. INTRO had several hit songs like ‘Ribbon In The Sky, and ‘Come Inside’. Greene also wrote hit songs like “Reminisce” and “Love No Limit” for Mary J Blige. In July 2001 Greene did an all tell interview about his sexuality with Sister 2 Sister magazine, admitted to knowing he had AIDS for Years.   

He said he was bi-sexual and had girlfriends but messed with men. Allegedly his male partner was the one who gave him AIDS. Greene ended up springing his ankle, and a ball came under his foot that swelled up to the size of a tennis ball. It’s called Kaposi’s sarcoma, an AIDS-related disease. Kenny Greene died October 1, 2001, at 32 years old.  

“Keep protecting yourself with condoms and don’t have unprotected sex”- Kenny Greene

2. Esteban de Jesús 

Esteban de Jesus was a former World Boxing Council lightweight champion from 1976 to 1978 from Puerto Rico. He is best known for knocking out Boxer Roberto Duran. Jesus admitted using cocaine and heroin while he was boxing and had been doing drugs with his brother Enrique; and also sharing needles with him.

In 1985, he found out that his brother Enrique had died of AIDS. Since Esteban had been sharing needles with him; he went and got tested. He tested positive for AIDS and in 1989 he died of AIDS at 37 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

3. Arthur Ashe

Arthur Ashe was the only African-American male to win a single title at the Wimbledon Championship Tennis Tournament and the U.S and Australian Open. He was also the first African-American Tennis Player selected to play in the America’s Davis Cup Team. In 1965, he won the individual NCAA championship.

After suffering a heart attack in the late 1970s and being hospitalized for 10 days, Ashe decided to retire from tennis in 1980 with 818 wins and 260 losses. Following a second bypass surgery in the late 1980s, he received a blood transfusion in hopes of a speedy recovery.  

Unfortunately, because of the blood transfusion, he contracted the human immunodeficiency virus, HIV. In the early 1990s, Ashe held a press conference announcing that he had contracted the AIDS virus. He said he had known since Sept, 1988. Sadly, on February 6, 1993, at 49, he died of AIDS. That same year he was pronounced Sportsman of the year by Sports Illustrated.

4. Howard Rollins

Howard Rollins was best known for his role as Virgil Tibbs in the 90s hit show ‘Heat of The Night’. After several drugs and alcohol-related arrests, his career ended with the TV series Heat of The Night. He was gay and a well-known drag queen in the gay community. Many who knew Rollins reported he lived a secret double life and often visited gay clubs cross-dressing as a woman.

Unfortunately, Rollins was found unconscious in his New York apartment with blood spilling from his nostrils and mouth. He later died at the hospital in New York of lymphoma a symptom of the AIDS virus on Dec 8, 1996. He allegedly wanted to get buried as a woman.

5. Wayne Cooper

Wayne Cooper was the lead vocalist from the legendary group ‘Cameo’ in the ’70s and ’80s. He was well known for his unique high pitch singing voice. He allegedly died of A.I.D.S but there are also rumors of him dying from a plane crash. In fact, we have confirmed none of the rumors. Cooper passed in 1984 at the young age of 29. 

6. Bobby Debarge

We well know Bobby DeBarge for being in the ’70s group ‘Switch’. They say it because of his drug addiction is how he contracted HIV, which later developed into AIDS. The DeBarge brother died of AIDS in 1995 at 39 in Rapids Grand, Michigan.

7. Sylvester James

Sylvester James Jr. was raised inv the Watts projects in Los Angeles, California. He is well-known for his group, the Cockettes and their disco singles in the ’70s and ’80s. James died in 1988 from complications of the AIDS virus at 41. Mostly, he left all his future royalties to the San Francisco AIDS/HIV organization.

8. Alan Wiggins

Alan Wiggins was from Los Angeles, California, and was a professional baseball player for the San Diego Padres. He had a habit of doing hard drugs and got AIDS. He died in 1991 at 32. His daughter Candice Wiggins now plays in the WNBA. She was 4 when her father Alan Wiggins died of AIDS.

9. Chad Kinch

Chad Kinch was a professional basketball player for the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Dallas Mavericks in the early ’80s. His position was the point guard and shooting guard. Unfortunately, he died years later in 1994 from AIDS complications at 35 in his home state, New Jersey.

10. Charlie Barnett

Charlie Barnett was a comedian and actor from West Virginia. He is well-known for being on Def Comedy Jam. Instantly he made a name for himself in the late 1970s and early 1980s while performing in parks in New York. Sadly, he contracted HIV through his use of heroin. His passing was on March 16, 1996, because of AIDS at 41.

11. Esquerita

Esquerita whose actual name is Eskew Reeder Jr. Esquerita was an incredible pianist, R&B singer and songwriter from South Carolina. He is well-known for influencing Rock’ n Roll legend, Little Richard. Some say Esquerita is the true originator of Rock’ n’ Roll. Right before his death, someone rumored he was washing car windows for tips in Brooklyn. Soon after he died of AIDS on October, 23, 1986.

12. Essex Hemphill

Most people know of Essex Hemphill for being an openly gay poet and activist. Essex wrote about identities, and race especially pertaining to the African-American gay community. Last, in 1994 he talks about his experience with AIDS in his writing ‘Vital Signs’. He later died on November 4, 1995, at 38.

13. Eazy E

Eazy E or Eric Wright was 1/3 member of the gangsta rap group N.W.A (Niggaz With Attitudes). He is one of the most well-known celebrities to have died of AIDS, but there is suspicion surrounding how he got the AIDS virus.

A week after revealing he had contracted AIDS, March 26th, 1995, he shockingly died from the AIDS virus. Speculations of how he contracted AIDS is still unknown and some, including members of Bone Thugs and Harmony and Wrights daughter Ebie Wright, believe that after a motorcycle accident someone injected him with HIV. 

Rapper Frost, the first Latino to get signed to Ruthless Records, also believes after Wright got hurt riding quads in Honda Valley, Ca that tainted needles were used for his acupuncture treatments after his accident . Young Eazy or Marquis Wright, Eazy’s son, believes that the President of Death Row Records Suge Knight played a role in Eazy-E’s death following an interview that he did with Jimmy Kimmel saying, quote;

“Technology is so high. So, if you shoot someone, kids, you don’t want to go to jail forever. They got this new thing out, people sell them all the time. They get blood from someone with A.I.D.S and shoot you with it. That’s a slow death. And Eazy-E thing, you know what I mean.”

14. Fela Kuti

Fela Kuti was born in Lagos, Nigeria. He was an activist, songwriter, composer, and known as the father of Afro-Beat, which is a mix of Yoruba, Jazz, and Funk in the 50s till 1997. 

Kuti’s brother on August 3, 1997, stated he had died of HIV/AIDS, but those rumors haven’t been confirmed. Rumors are he possibly died from Kaposi’s Sarcoma, which is a symptom of having HIV/AIDS infection.

15. Jermaine Stewart

Jermaine Stewart got started by dancing on the Chicago Soul Train show. He moved to Los Angeles to perform on Soul Train, and he just rose into an instant Star. He became an R&B singer in the late ’80s. He is best known for his hit songs “We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off” and “The Word Is Out”. He was also a background singer for the legendary trio group Shalamar. Shalamar had the hit song ‘This Is For The Lover In You’. Despite all this, Stewart died March 17, 1997, at 39 in Chicago because of AIDS.

16. David Cole

David Cole was from the legendary group CC music factory in the ’90s. He was also a songwriter and record producer. CC Music Factory had hit songs like “Gonna Make You Make Sweat” and “Here We Go Let’s Rock & Roll”. Unfortunately, Cole died of spinal Meningitis from complications from the AIDS virus January, 24, 1995 at the young age of 32. In fact, Mariah Carey released ‘One Sweet Day’ in memory of David Cole.

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