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Big Punisher: 1971-2000: Rapper

Weight Gain Lead To Early Death

Pun's rise in hip-hop was fast and steady, and so was his weight gain. When Capital Punishment was released in 1998, he weighed in at 400 pounds. By the time of his death, just two years later, he weighed 698 pounds, and could no longer tie his own shoelaces. "He was so big and he knew his weight was causing a health problem," Fat Joe is quoted as saying at Rolling Stone online. "For a long time, even though he was a big guy, he could do whatever he wanted. He'd play sports with us and everything. But as time went on, his health got worse." Encouragement from friends and family led Pun to enter a diet program at Duke University during the summer of 1999, but he quickly regained the weight he lost there. "He really wanted to lose weight," Fat Joe told Rolling Stone online. "It was just overwhelming."

Known for his remarkable live performances, Big Pun was less and less able to get around because of his weight. "Given his size, Pun's performance is filled with suspense," critic Rob Marriot wrote in the Village Voice. The hot lights and physical activity on stage clearly tested the rapper's stamina, and audience members often wondered if he would make it through a set. Still, Marriot continued, "Big Pun even outshone the headliners." He and Fat Joe rapped together on Jennifer Lopez's hit "Feelin' So Good," and were scheduled to appear with her on Saturday Night Live on February 5, 2000, but Big Pun was unable to make it.

Big Pun, his wife, and their children were staying in a hotel in suburban White Plains, New York, in early 2000 while their Bronx home was being renovated. On February 7, he had trouble breathing and collapsed. Paramedics arrived on the scene but could not revive him, and he was pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital. Heart failure was later determined as the cause of death.

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Shennen Bersani (1961-) Biography - Personal to Mark Burgess Biography - PersonalBig Punisher: 1971-2000: Rapper Biography - Discovered By Fat Joe, Weight Gain Lead To Early Death, Fame Continued After Death