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Live Free 999 foundation

Jarad Anthony Higgins, better known as Juice WRLD, had just turned 21 and was coming home for a birthday celebration at Midway Airport when he suffering a seizure as the result of oxycodone and codeine toxicity this past December.

His mother, Carmela Wallace, is speaking out for the first time since that day in the hopes that her son’s death will be a lesson to others.

“”It was devastating, but one thing I decided early on was, I was not going to hide the fact that he died from a drug overdose.  I didn’t want to keep that secret because a lot of people deal with that every day,” Wallace said.

The Homewood-Flossmoor graduate had recently been named Billboard Music Award’s “Top New Artist” and was among the most celebrated entertainers around.  But he struggled with anxiety and depression and was self-medicating.

“I talked to him about it. I told him my biggest fear was him overdosing on the stuff. That’s why I made the decision I have to talk about it with other people.”

Wallace said it’s now her mission to help other young people dealing with mental health issues and drug addiction.

“That’s our objective with our foundation. Normalize the conversation, so it has to start with me,” she said. “I hope it’s what he wanted, was a legacy of healing. To let people know that you don’t have to suffer alone,” Wallace added.

Wallace said many of her son’s fans have reached out to her after his death with their own stories and said that’s why so many young people are now involved with the foundation.

She said they are the ones who can relate best to those they hope to reach.

Visit the Live Free 999 website here.

More from ABC7 and WLS here.

<3 Lauren

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