Getty Images  youtube.com/Kanye West
Source: Getty Images youtube.com/Kanye West

Kanye West's Dramatic Family Tragedies Include Mother's Sudden Passing and Dad's Battle with Cancer

Junie Sihlangu
Aug 08, 2021
06:20 A.M.
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Kanye West has faced several family tragedies in his personal life, but the one he blames himself for most is his mother’s sudden death. The pair had been incredibly close when she was alive.


He’s still one of the biggest stars, but Kanye West’s life has been riddled with endless family tragedies, including the death of his mother, Dr. Donda West. She sadly passed away at age 58 in November 2007.

Her sudden death came after she had cosmetic surgery complications. A January 2008 Los Angeles coroner said Donda died of heart disease while suffering from “multiple post-operative factors” after plastic surgery.

Kanye and Donda West at a book signing for her memoir "Raising Kanye: Life Lessons from the Mother of a Hip-Hop Superstar" on May 9, 2007, at Borders in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Vince Bucci/Getty Images



At the time, the rapper’s mother had gone in for breast-reduction surgery and liposuction. Kanye’s mother walked out heavily bandaged from the clinic after having 5½ hours of surgery.

She had been prescribed Vicodin for her pain and chose to receive post-op care at her home. However, soon after the procedure, she started experiencing pain, a sore throat, and tightening in her chest before collapsing.


Officials said she was pronounced dead in the hospital’s emergency room. Donda raised the singer, 3 at the time, in South Shore, Chicago, after she divorced his father Ray, a former Black Panther.


The retired professor and former chairwoman of the Chicago State University English department had been a supporter of her son’s career. Kanye’s fiancée at the time of Donda’s death summed up their bond beautifully.


Alexis Phifer previously told “People” magazine: “The best thing that I love about her is that she loves my son. You can’t beat that.” “The Washington Post” noted how Kanye seemed badly affected by his mother’s death.


He tweeted a text-message conversation where he revealed that he planned to use a photo of Jan Adams as the cover of his new album. Adams was the surgeon who operated on Donda, leading to her death.


The “Jesus Walks” singer insinuated that he harbored some ill feelings towards Adams and wanted to forgive him. Kanye once confessed to MTV that his mother was everything to him, so no wonder he took her death so hard.

She also served as his first manager and would drive out to suburban studios and sit waiting for him. He honored her in his music, with the most notable one being “Hey Mama” from his second album, “Late Registration.”



The musician publically and repeatedly blamed himself for Donda’s death. In an “XXL” magazine essay, he noted how she’d moved to Los Angeles because of him and ended up being eaten alive by the place.

Kanye felt if he’d stayed in New York, she might still be with him. However, the loss of his mother wasn’t the only tragedy the star would have to face in his years in the music industry.



In July 2018, “People” confirmed through sources that Kanye’s father had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. At the time, the insider said Ray was getting treatment and responding well to it.

Luckily, in October 2018, the “All Mine” rapper revealed that Ray’s cancer was in remission. The star took to his Instagram account to celebrate by sharing a photo of a plate of bugs that the two shared to celebrate.



Before his mother’s death and his father’s diagnosis, Kanye faced his own personal struggles. In 2002, the star was seriously injured in a car crash in Chicago, leading him to finally pursue a career as a solo artist.

The accident occurred while the singer was leaving a late-night recording studio session, according to “Spin.” His rented Lexus crashed into another car after he fell asleep at the wheel and ended up with a jaw fracture.

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