Carmella Wallace, the mother of late rapper Juice WRLD, has given her first interview about her son following the 2019 overdose that led to his death at age 21.
On Tuesday, Wallace appeared on The Tamron Hall Show to discuss Juice — real name Jarad Anthony Higgins — his struggles with addiction and his desire to get better, despite being surrounded by peers who she believes enabled his bad habits.
“I just felt like his best interest wasn’t being looked out for,” Wallace said. “I think people had their own agendas and they liked the lifestyle. And they were young too, so I have to give them that. They’re young so they don’t see things the way we would see it but I think that he just didn’t have the people in place to tell him to stop or to know [what was really wrong]. He just didn’t have that support system in place.”
Wallace explained that while some of Juice’s peers privately reached out to her with their concerns, none of the rapper’s closest friends came forward about the severity of his issues with drugs. “I told him of my fears of him overdosing and encouraged him to speak to the psychologist I arranged for him to speak with,” she said. “But he was 19 and he knew everything. And the people around him, some of them would reach out to me. But not the inner, inner-circle.”
Later in the interview, Wallace told Hall that she felt Juice was planning to go to rehab. “I could tell there was a difference in him and that he wasn’t doing the lean,” she recalled. “I think he was still doing pills, but he told me he was ready to get help. It was just a special moment. We just had that moment where I just knew he was going to overcome it.”
Wallace penned an emotional letter to Juice on Dec. 2 on what would have been his 23rd birthday.
“When you were born 23 years ago, I never expected that you would not to be here today celebrating your birthday,” she wrote. “Although it has been nearly two years since you’ve been gone, I still think about you every day and losing you has changed my life forever. I’m glad that we always made sure that we said goodbye when we left each other because we didn’t know when we would see each other again.”
The rapper’s mother continued, “I promise to continue your message of healing and use Live Free 999 as an avenue to normalize the conversation around mental health and substance dependency and help those who suffer in silence.”
Fans were able to take a look into Juice’s life before the overdose in HBO’s Juice WRLD: Into the Abyss documentary, released on Dec. 16. Fighting Demons, Juice’s second posthumous album that Wallace formally announced, arrived a week before the documentary on Dec. 10. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and No. 2 on the Billboard 200.