DeShaun Holton (October 2, 1973 – April 11, 2006) better known
as Proof, his stage name, was an American rapper from Detroit, Michigan.
During his career, he was a member of the groups Goon Squad, 5 Elementz,
Promatic, and most notably D12. He was a close childhood friend of
rapper Eminem since they were 12, and lived on the same block, although
they attended different schools. In 2006, Proof was shot and killed
during an altercation at a nightclub.
DeShaun Dupree Holton was born on October 2, 1973 to Pepper Holton,
a single mother. Proof's father was a music producer who abandoned
the family to pursue his career. Proof grew up in Warren, Michigan.
It was there where he met childhood friend and future work associate
Proof first rose to national prominence as a part of the rap group
D12, which he was instrumental in forming, although he had achieved
a degree of success prior. He was featured in The Source's "Unsigned
Hype" column in 1999 and came close to winning the 1998 Blaze
Battle. His first television appearance was in the video for Aaliyah's "Age
Ain't Nothing But a Number". In 2000, Proof toured along with
Eminem, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg in the Up In Smoke Tour as a hype
man for Eminem. He rose to prominence in 2001 with the release of
Devil's Night, D12's debut album on Interscope Records. The following
year, Proof collaborated with Dogmatic on Promatic and joined Eminem's "Anger
Management" tour in support of the release. He appeared in
the film 8 Mile along with Eminem and Xzibit; although in the film
the character based on him, Future, was portrayed by Mekhi Phifer,
he played Lil' Tic, a freestyle rapper who rap battles B-Rabbit,
the lead character, played by Eminem. To capitalize on the publicity
from the film, Proof released a six-song EP called Electric CoolAid:
Acid Testing. Proof also had a cameo alongside the rest of D12
in The Longest Yard appearing as "Basketball Convicts" in
 Solo work
Proof released a solo album featuring collaborations with rappers,
50 Cent, Method Man, Nate Dogg, B-Real of Cypress Hill, T3 of Slum
Village, Obie Trice, and D12 on his own Iron Fist Records label in
conjunction with Alliance Entertainment's IDN Distribution. Proof
said that he did not produce the record with Shady Records or Aftermath
because he wanted to "build his own thing".
Called Searching for Jerry Garcia, the album was released on August
9, 2005 on his own Iron Fist Records label, ten years to the day
following Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia's death. It contained
the prophetic song Kurt Kobain in which he wrote of his own death
and 'passing the sign' to Eminem as his protege once he was gone.
This release did not make a significant impact on the charts despite
its list of guest appearances.
Originally, every song title on the album was to be named after
a celebrity. "Jump Biatch" was originally titled "Eric
Clapton Jr," but Proof changed the title when he realized that
Eric Clapton's son fell to his death from a 53rd-story window.
Proof has said that he considered Garcia to be a "genius" who
suffered from common character flaws. Proof has stated his admiration
for Garcia's eclectic style, saying that Garcia "went against
the grain". The album received favorable reviews, which commented
on its "eclectic" and "introspective" nature.
Proof stated how he wanted to be remembered in an interview with
SOHH.com shortly after his album release: "I want people to
say that I was a true artist, that I did it best and stayed true
to Hip Hop roots [...] I'd want people to understand I did it for
the love, not for the charts."
Proof also recorded a track, "How I Live," with Twiztid
for their album Independence Day shortly before his death.
On April 11, 2006, Proof was killed by a gunshot wound to the head
at the CCC Club on 8 Mile Road in Detroit, Michigan after fatally
shooting Keith Bender, Jr.
While playing a game of pool, Proof and Bender got into a heated
argument. After a physical altercation, club bouncer Mario Etheridge
fired his gun into the air to try and stop the situation. Etheridge,
who was Bender's cousin, then shot Proof three times in the head
and chest. Proof was killed, and Bender died a week later. Proof's
blood alcohol content at the time of his death was 0.32 percent,
four times the level that qualifies someone for a drunken driving
conviction; he had no other drugs in his system. Bender's family
began a wrongful death suit against Proof's estate. Etheridge was
held by authorities to have been acting in lawful defense of another
man; however, he was found guilty of carrying a concealed weapon
and discharging a firearm inside a building.
On April 19, 2006, Proof was buried in The Fellowship Chapel, Detroit,
to a full house of 2,660 including D12, Eminem, 50 Cent, Dr. Dre,
and Snoop Dogg, with thousands mourning outside.
 Alternative death story
Several months later, hip-hop magazine XXL published an alternative
account of the evening in a feature article interviewing Proof's
friend, a police officer who accompanied Proof on the night of the
shooting and claimed to have brought the gun that was used to kill
Bender. Mudd claimed that his group went to the CCC Club after
going to a strip club, began drinking and that Proof played pool
against Bender. He observed Proof and Bender begin arguing, noting
that "it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for Proof
to get drunk and fight," and stated that he saw the two getting
into an argument. After they were separated, Mudd claimed Bender
hit Proof and a fight between the two broke out. Shortly afterward,
Mudd saw Etheridge shoot his gun straight up into the air to break
up the fight. Proof then demanded Mudd's gun, and after he refused,
pulled the weapon from Mudd's pants and also fired into the air.
Mudd claimed that Bender charged Proof, and that in the scuffle shots
were fired that hit both Bender and Proof.
In 2007, Proof's mother, Pepper Holton created the Proof Foundation
in his memory. The Proof Foundation is a Michigan based non-profit
organization formed to honor and preserve the legacy of DeShaun “Proof” Holton
through the promotion of music and arts education by providing scholarships
to low income children from single parent households. Proof's death
was mentioned in Eminem's 2009 album Relapse ("Deja Vu", "Beautiful" and "Elevator"),
and on his 2010 album Recovery ("Going Through Changes" and "You're
Never Over"). In 2011 the song "Doody" (earlier titled "Difficult"),
a tribute to Proof by Eminem, was leaked. Obie Trice, an old friend
of Proof and Eminem, recorded a chorus for the song. Rapper Royce
da 5'9" made a tribute to Proof on a song from his Bar Exam
mixtape, he would later dedicate a song titled "Security" from
his album Success Is Certain.
Main article: Proof discography
 Discography with D12
The Underground EP (1996)
Devil's Night (2001)
D12 World (2004)
 Studio albums
I Miss the Hip Hop Shop (2004)
Searching for Jerry Garcia (2005)
8 Mile (2002), Lil Tic
The Longest Yard (2005), Basketball Convict
"Age Ain't Nothing But a Number" (music video, 1995),
"The Real Slim Shady" (music video, 2000), extra
"Rap Name" (music video, 2002), extra
"My Band" (music video, 2004), himself
"Like Toy Soldiers" (music video, 2005), himself/Bugz
"Welcome 2 Detroit" (music video, 2005), extra