Shock G of Digital Underground Explains Why Saafir is Bound to a Wheelchair

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0R0

Girbaud Shuttle Jeans
Dec 10, 2006
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BasedWorld
#1
This is pretty depressing.

Last year, a close friend asked me “Why is Saafir in a wheelchair?” and with a sigh, all I could muster was “It’s complicated” because it really is. Months later, he asked me a 3rd time, so I shot him this email below:

Saafir’s sitch is the gradual result of a series of events..

Here’s a ruff timeline:

1992:

Survived TWA plane crash at JFK scheduled for Frisco. Engine blew during take-off, skidded-out sidewayz off the runway, came to a stop, and after a few seconds, burst into flames:

TWA Flight 843 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Saafir was the first one off, but he jumped before the slide fully inflated and wound up jolting his lower back as his feet hit the ground beneath the thin material. It was a Boeing DC-10, so it was hella high-up (..like jumping from a 3rd floor apt balcony).

Afterwards he refused hospital assistance (“I’m aight”) ..in a hurry ta catch the next plane back to the bay.

1994:

At a d.u. photo shoot in Jack London Square (oakland) for Rappages mag, showing-out for the writer & photographer, he jumped onto the metal steps of a moving train that was goin faster than he anticipated. So when he jumped back off 2 blocks further, he hit the street with a snap, causing him to run violently faster than humanly possible for the first few steps to keep from scrubbing on camera, ha. He pulled it off, but it looked craaazy, and for the rest of that day he kept holdin his lower back and whispering ”Damn, I think I fucked my back off again blood”.



1994 thru 1999:

He popped hella ecstasy without drinking the required water to protect the spine from dehydration.

2000:

While on Up in Smoke Tour w/Xzibit, horseplayin around backstage he hurt it again while kickboxin wit da homies. He could barely stand up from the pain. So Nzazi Muhammed (Digital Underground’s fitness & witch doctor) came & met him backstage, gave’m acupuncture & some massage therapy which immediately got him movin around again. This became one of Saafir’s classic stories, how Z made him lay on the concrete and had him screamin in pain right in front of Dr.Dre, Ras Kass and everyone while he worked on him, and how he jumped up afterwards in disbelief, and with a huge teary-eyed smile told Z, “Damn blood, u really fixed my back!! For the first time in 5-years the pain is gone!! Wow man, thanku man, thanku!!!”

2000 to 06:

Does two more Up in Smoke tours w/Xibit.

Back pain gradually returns & increases over the years, resulting in several doc visits & consultations.



2007:

His first spinal operation for “cartilage deterioration” and “nerve damage” on a few specific vertebrae. Afterwards, against doctors’ advice to “take it easy and stay off your feet while you heal”, he continued to do shows & hustle in the street.

07 thru 09:

Music biz real slow, so to pay his rent he starts grindin his prescription back-pain meds (oxys & roxys, high $treet demand) while he breathes thru the pain “like a soldier”.

Meanwhile, in addition to back pain, his right leg gradually begins to go numb from the toes upward, until he has to walk (and perform) with a cane:

Freestyle 101: Saafir - G4tv.com

Early 2011:

Numbness reaches his knee on right leg, left leg first signs of numbness in the foot. After several doc visits & diagnosis’s, still no solid explanation or solution. “Scar tissue around his lower spine is swelling and pressing against the nerves that control the legs” is the general assessment.

Late 2011:

Can’t walk at all on his own anymore, begins using a wheelchair. Loses his own place, and hasta move in with an ex-gf who he doesn’t get along with but was the only place he could go. They barely get along, the scene is usually tense. Meanwhile, his X & molly abuse continues, and without ever drinking water (their nightly ritual is to x-out before they fuck and crash-out). He continues to ride-out the pain (“Blood, I’ma soldier”) while flippin his pain meds for cash.

Also worth a mention, and since ever, Saafir is a sugar junkie (skittles & soda), only eats junk food, and has been chaining Newports since the early 90s. He recently told me he hasn’t eaten a vegetable in over 10 years, and most of his meals come from either the Arco Mini-market, 7-Eleven, or the Wendy’s nearby their deep-east oakland apartment.

Feb 2012:

He reveals to Money-B his sitch, which spreads thru the crew & shocks all of us. None of us had any idea, and we’re all hurt & pissed that he waited this long before he told anybody.



March 2012:

I go visit him, our first in-person meeting in over 10-years. His apartment is small, dark, cluttered & filthy. Cig butts fill every ashtray, empty soda bottles & fast-food cups everywhere. When our eyes met, it took all my strength to push down the urge to cry, and we met w/big smiles & hugs. But later when I was alone, I had ta pull the car over and dump tears for 10-minutes straight.

By now paralyzation had reached his hips, no feeling in either leg, can’t wiggle a toe or flex any leg muscles. It took us 2-hours to dress him and get him into the car, and then another 2 to get him situated in bed after our food & pharmacist run.

After the visit, I jump onboard full throttle in search of anyone who can help, any medical solution..

April 2012:

We zero in on the Laser Spine Institution in Scottsdale Arizona who propose a procedure with a 90% success rate. After reviewing his med records, requesting several new MRIs, and a slew of financial form clearances, they accept his case. We negotiate the appointment for late May, and began the surgery-prep processes at home.



May 26, 2012

I fly out with him as caretaker.

On day 2 of the 7-day process, after many tests, they apologetically announce they can’t help his situation. “Our type of procedure can’t treat his type of injury” was their only explanation, “We’re extremely sorry you traveled this far..” and they reimbursed us 15k of the 20 we spent to make it happen.

June 2, 2012

Saafir returned to his gloomy home situation in oakland devastated, exhausted & defeated. All of our hope was in that trip to AZ.

2012 to present:

Still searching for a doctor or a procedure that can help.

Still living off skittles, soda, chips and 7-Eleven burritos.

Still chain-smokin Newports

Still got them roxys fo’ya!
Source
 
Nov 28, 2011
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#5
I remember seeing Saafir on that Mya - "My First Night With You" video back in the day and even bought his Mr. No No and Hit list records.

I just remember about a week after seeing that video I was sitting as a passenger side riding on Foothill blvd and Fruitvale in E. Oakland and this fool pulled up in a bucket right next to us and tried to pass a flyer and said "homie my album is out" i told him i just bought his record and he sped off and said "then play on playa"

I just remember saying to myself isnt this fool signed to a major label?

I hope he starts walking again dam

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zz66mGYJsUI
 
Aug 17, 2002
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#9
Box Car Sessions is one of top 5 favorite albums. depending on what day you ask me, it's my #1.

Hard to imagine this has happened to him. He was always seemed to be in shape. Funny Saafir story, there was this fine ass Korean chick back in the day at De Anza College that everyone jocked. Saafir was hittin it though, and when he would call her and leave messages it would be in that deep saucy nomad voice saying "Yo CJ, you wanna fuck!$!?

Does anyone remember him from Menace 2 Society? Classic shit.

This hits even harder for me cuz I'm kinda going through back issues too. I got bulging, degenerating discs in my lower back and shooting pains in my left leg. I think i've got a hold on it with diet, exercise and medical supervision, so if I don't fuck it up any further I'm good. I might not be able to play sports again or anything like that but at least i'll be able to walk normally, and defend myself when need be.

Stay up Saafir. You're a legend and a wheelchair won't change that.
 
May 16, 2002
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#10
This part of the story was hilarious to me:

1994:

At a d.u. photo shoot in Jack London Square (oakland) for Rappages mag, showing-out for the writer & photographer, he jumped onto the metal steps of a moving train that was goin faster than he anticipated. So when he jumped back off 2 blocks further, he hit the street with a snap, causing him to run violently faster than humanly possible for the first few steps to keep from scrubbing on camera, ha. He pulled it off, but it looked craaazy.


What it's all come to is seriously sad story, though.
 
#12
wow, this is sad! Great mc, but the fact that ive been going threw some bad spine issues myself the last 10 years makes it that much more interesting to me.

Acupuncture is something I also do from time to time, docters say they can't do anything to help really either, besides pills and medical weed to take an edge off the chronic daily pain.

The sad thing to me is that he went through this alot on his own it sounds like. I am lucky enough to have some family close, that have helped a ton. Nice to hear Shock G has been helping out lately, means alot to see someone care.

Hope things improve for dude, he always will be one of the more underrated westcoast mcs imo. One thing I hope his friends help out with is real food, if he is not eating well while going threw all this, that probably just adds to things.

Life tosses you some crazy shit sometimes, gotta deal with it the best you can.

Anyways, sorry for the long post, reading this just almost put a tear in my eye for dude though.
 
Props: NotAllThere

0R0

Girbaud Shuttle Jeans
Dec 10, 2006
15,457
20,282
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31
BasedWorld
#13
Saafir was diagnosed with spinal cancer in 2004 and was in a wheelchair as a result of that. Its mentioned in this article from 2007 that he was in remission.

Back in the game -- and grateful for it - SFGate

He rapped about it in 2007 on 100 Bars from Paint The Town ,saying he had cancer and couldnt feel anything from the chest down
Did you actually read what I posted? Based off how much Saafir played shit off he probably started saying he got spinal cancer cuz it was a shorter answer. 07 was when he started using a cane, would make sense he started saying that then.
 

infinity

( o )( o )
May 4, 2005
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UOENO, CA
#14
I had the promo only copy of Boxcar Sessions back in the day; it was a solid album. I agree with ThaG on this. A lot of this shit was preventable. Good luck to the guy tho.
 

VERSACERO

smoking meth with steve
Mar 14, 2004
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#18
This part of the story was hilarious to me:

1994:

At a d.u. photo shoot in Jack London Square (oakland) for Rappages mag, showing-out for the writer & photographer, he jumped onto the metal steps of a moving train that was goin faster than he anticipated. So when he jumped back off 2 blocks further, he hit the street with a snap,causing him to run violently faster than humanly possible for the first few steps to keep from scrubbing on camera, ha. He pulled it off, but it looked craaazy.


What it's all come to is seriously sad story, though.
Yeah I hella lol'd at this part.