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FSM Presents: Zo Huddle – X Gave It To Ya: The Late Rapper DMX Left An Imprint On Past and Present Athletes

Franchise Sports Media



This Zo Huddle is in a different tone…one that comes with the DMX bark and his impact. Earl “DMX” Simmons left the world on April 9th after 50 years of living, but the man still energized people with his famed bark, lyrics and energy on the microphone…which in turn sparked athletes ready to run out the tunnel or locker room. The Zo Huddle spoke with people who felt X’s impact while also sharing his own personal memories of the Yonkers (N.Y.) entertainment legend.


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Tyler Williams was born after DMX’s five-year musical tear from 1998-2003.

Yet, the Santa Maria (Calif.) St. Joseph two-way football standout who will soon suit up for Texas-El Paso (UTEP) needed energy for his game against an undefeated Templeton Eagles squad on April 9th…and turned to a musical icon who perished in the morning before his contest.

“I listened to him on my way to my game tonight,” Williams told Franchise Sports Media following the Knights’ 38-0 demolition of previous unbeaten Templeton.

The song was “X Gon’ Give It to Ya.” And did ‘X’ give the future Miner safety his spark to keep the Knights undefeated?

“Absolutely, without a doubt,” Williams said. “It’s always a great tragedy when you lose someone with that much traction and influence on kids and athletes today. He definitely will be missed, but his music will definitely fuel me for the next 2-3 years I play.”

Williams hauled down a 49-yard grab on the Knights’ opening possession. He then spent the rest of the night slowing down a high-powered THS offense that ran the RPO (Run Pass Option). And it was DMX’s platinum hit song that gave the 2021 prospect his bark and bite in the battle of the unbeaten.

Williams wasn’t the only one who got their adrenaline from DMX before their prep football game.

Justin Cantu, another 2021 prospect, bumped two DMX songs before providing the 73-yard rushing dagger for the touchdown for Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure, helping culminate in the 24-14 road win over Camarillo last Saturday afternoon that lifted Bonnie to 3-1.

“It’s sad to see him go. But I had a couple of his songs on my playlist before I came out here,” Cantu said, who will play for NAIA program Lawrence Tech in Michigan after his Seraphs career.

But even before Williams and Cantu got to know DMX, Earl Simmons was psyching up athletes the moment the promotions for “It’s Dark and Hell is Hot” flooded airwaves in the summer of 1998. And while his five-year vice grip on the music and entertainment industry hit a halt after 2003 through various legal issues, ‘X’ still found his way to be revered among many…including future college prospects like Williams and Cantu to current superstars in the NBA, NFL and pro sports landscape.


Stars and scribes praise ‘X’


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The face of the NBA LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers – who was in high school throughout X’s rise – took to Twitter to memorialize the icon.

X4L!! Rest in Paradise LEGEND!!James tweeted, which featured two dog emojis.

DMX gave hope to the hopeless,” was what former NBA All-Star and Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford tweeted.

Grew up listening to your music word for word as a young kid. Your name will live on forever! R.I.P DMX” was posted by Marcus Morris of the L.A Clippers.

The Portland Trailblazers Damian Lillard, himself a rapper, shared “Real DMX fan…Loved that dude as an artist and person equally. Happy I had the pleasure of interacting with him over music” on his Twitter page.

Even athlete turned journalist Bucky Brooks of the NFL Network needed an ‘X’ song to get his adrenaline pumping, tweeting “So sad about this. DMX was my go-to when it was time to find pre-game mood music. This is a tough one.”

The news of DMX’s passing especially hit home for Tony Jones of The Athletic. Before covering the Utah Jazz and playing prep basketball with a young Ron Artest, Jones was on the East Coast during the time of DMX’s ascension.

“He definitely made an impact on me,” Jones told FSM.


X’s East Coast and worldwide impact


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Jones was attending Western Connecticut State University when ‘X’ began to hit the airwaves, mostly on collaboration tracks like “4,3,2,1” by LL Cool J or “Money, Power and Respect” by The Lox and Lil’ Kim. A nearby club named “Streets” hosted college nights on Thursday – and X’s voice was in the DJ rotation. Along with “Money, Power, and Respect,” DMX’s first commercial hit “Get at me Dog” energized the club attendees including Jones.

The guys would go crazy. The girls would too,” Jones said. “He was as big as any artist as there was out there. It wasn’t just him. It was The Lox, Kim was still hot, Mase was hot…the whole Bad Boy conglomerate. But he had the two albums in one year…and it was one of the better years anyone had in Hip-Hop. At that time to drop two albums in a calendar year was unheard of…and it’s still mostly unheard of.

DMX dropped “It’s Dark and Hell is Hot” and “Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of my Blood” in his first year – both topping the charts at No. 1 before the 21st Century came.

The New York Hip-Hop scene is known for having a gritty vibe. Artists like the late Christopher “The Notorious B.I.G” Wallace, Nas, Mobb Deep, Lox, and a young Jay Z expressed that gritty side through their music. DMX, however, took New York rap to another level as Jones recalled.

What was unique about him from the production and sound was his voice and delivery,Jones said. “That part was something we had never heard before or witnessed. That voice will never be duplicated again. He was the perfect MC for that era.”

But what resonates the most for Jones: DMX breathing new life into an N.Y.C scene that was still reeling from Biggie’s death.

New York needed it and Hip-Hop needed it. In ’96, we lost Tupac. In ’97 we lost B.I.G. There was still a real void in New York. We didn’t know who was going to fill that void. But X came onto the scene and took over. He was a real force. To my generation, he is always going to be one of the guys who defines what we listen to and what we love,” Jones said.


ZH’s recollection of X


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Brooks and Jones weren’t the only scribes impacted by ‘X.’ Long before the Zo Huddle existed, and before I covered the 2019 RedBox Bowl or the 2018 Las Vegas Bowl with 247Sports, or even before the Zo Huddle got to cover young Fresno State athletes named Derek Carr, Davante Adams and Paul George during my Fresno State Collegian years…I too was witness to DMX’s rise.

I was a teen in the Lompoc Valley when people were wearing the Ruff Ryders gear or playing his first LP during lunchtime. “What’s my Name” and “Ruff Ryders Anthem” flowed before girls and boys basketball games on the loudspeakers in the 805. Heck, the hook to the latter song was sung on roller coaster rides at Six Flags Magic Mountain in one Cali summer. Prep and college football teams out west had a DMX song pumping their adrenaline before hitting the field.

And post-2003, a DMX track was still needed on my end to get through a weight room set or finish up an elliptical workout.

DMX had that kind of influence. He energized those who needed a reason to be energized for their game or workout. But he didn’t just leave a resonating effect on athletes or those who love exercise. For people with life shortcomings, X spoke to them…getting them to realize that it’s OK to admit your setbacks, but not run from them and instead overcome them. He additionally made it OK to share your faith and feel energized about bible verses, often ending his albums with a prayer.

DMX energized – from controlling the crowd at Woodstock or getting people dancing in their living rooms while on their mobile devices while watching him and Snoop Dogg on Verzuz in 2020. Lastly, I witnessed something poetic on my end…

One song that energized me during my athletic career was “Do You” by DMX and New York DJ legend Funkmaster Flex. Before pulling up to Jay Williams Stadium in Santa Maria on April 9, guess what song was blaring on Rock the Bells Sirius Channel 43? That song.


X Gave It to Ya…and I won’t be shocked if 10 years from now, DMX’s songs are fueling future high school athletes and pro athletes before they run out to the field.


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Lorenzo J. Reyna – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Zo on Twitter: @LJ_Reyna

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