Kanye West's Mother, Donda, Dies

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Feb 12, 2005
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Donda West, the mother and onetime manager of rapper Kanye West, died Saturday in Los Angeles.

A spokesperson for the family had no other details at this time.

West, 58, a retired professor and former chairwoman of the Chicago State University English department, was a tireless supporter of her son as he both earned success and stirred up controversy.

"Kanye likes to think as a hobby and speak his own mind. He was always like that," Donda West told InStyle earlier this year. "He came out of the womb looking like he had that attitude."

As CEO of West Brands LLC and co-founder of the Kanye West Foundation, she teamed with her son to develop a nonprofit that aimed to combat the dropout problem in high schools in 2005. In May, she released the book Raising Kanye: Life Lessons from the Mother of a Hip-Hop Superstar.

Donda West raised her son as a single mother in the Chicago neighborhood of South Shore after divorcing his father Ray, a former Black Panther, when Kanye was 3.

The rapper paid tribute to her efforts in his song "Hey Mama," singing: "See you're unbreakable, unmistakable/ Highly capable, lady that's makin loot/ A livin' legend too, just look at what heaven do/ Send us an angel, and I thank you (Hey Mama)." The ode became the ring tone she played on her cell phone.

"She always gave me support," Kanye West said. "A lot of parents don't train their kids to think."

In June, Donda joined Kanye to celebrate his 30th birthday at the flagship Louis Vuitton store in Manhattan, where she danced onstage to "She Wants to Move" as her son chanted "Go Mom! Go Mom!" The next celebration she was looking forward to was his marriage.

Of Kanye's fiancé Alexis Phifer, she told PEOPLE: "The best thing that I love about her is that she loves my son. You can't beat that."

i read it was because she had an allergic reaction to meds. Im not sure thats true.


Bless his heart. That's so sad. And he was close to his mama too.

I was hearing this on the grapevine much earlier today, but I just didn't want to believe it. I was hoping this was just a sick rumor, but unfortunately it's not. Sorry Kanye.

Sad story--and a reminder that cosmetic surgery is still surgery, and there are bad outcomes.

That's crazy. I've never heard of anyone dying from plastic surgery before. Sad...

There have been stories about people dying from complications after cosmetic surgery. I am sure she went to an awesome doctor though...maybe complications from anesthesia?


Jan Adams, the doctor who performed surgery on Kanye West's mother, has sent his condolences to the West family but declined to discuss the procedure that Donda West underwent before her death.

"I want to first express my deepest condolences to the West family at a very difficult time," Adams says in a statement to Entertainment Tonight. "As a medical doctor practicing in this field, I hold sacred the bond of confidentiality that exists between the patient and doctor. Out of respect of the West family, and the absence of verifiable information, any comment without having first discussing that information with the family would be unprofessional."

Donda West, 58, died Saturday in Los Angeles from possible complications from the Friday surgery.

In another development, Oprah Winfrey, who had Adams as a guest on her talk show, moved Tuesday to distance herself from him – and specifically, from a report that she introduced West and Adams.

"Absolutely untrue. Oprah Winfrey did not personally introduce nor recommend Dr. Jan Adams to Donda West," Winfrey's rep says. "Dr. Adams taped a segment of The Oprah Winfrey Show on Oct. 28, 2003. Donda West appeared with her son during a taping of The Oprah Winfrey Show on April 27, 2005. Oprah Winfrey has not been in touch with either Dr. Adams or Donda West since their respective appearances."

An autopsy was conducted Tuesday. A spokesman for the West family has appealed for "privacy during this time of grief."


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