Celebrity deaths in 2011

Slideshow posted in Photos | Monday, January 03, 2011

9 of 84: Heavy D, a rapper who rose to fame in the 1990s, died at age 44 on Nov. 8, 2011.

The hip hop star, whose real name is Dwight Arrington Myers, was pronounced dead at a Beverly Hills hospital around 12 p.m. local time. In December, the coroner's office determined that Heavy D died of natural causes. He had suffered a pulmonary embolism - a blockage of the main artery of the lung - and deep leg vein thrombosis, which causes the formation of blood clots in the leg.

The rapper had lost a significant amount of weight over the years and suffered from arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease. The coroner's office also said that a transcontinental jet flight was also a contributing factor to his death.

On the day he died, authorities received a 911 call about a man lying in a walkway near a condominium, police said, adding that an officer was sent to the area saw Heavy D, who was 'commuicative' but having trouble breathing. Paramedics transported him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Staff members of the building told police Heavy D had returned home from a shopping trip and had difficulty breathing as he walked down a hallway. He collapsed as they tried to help him.

Heavy D's last message on his Twitter page, posted a day earlier, said: 'BE INSPIRED!'

He also Tweeted his condolences over the recent death of heavyweight champion Joe Frazier, who passed away on Monday at age 67.

Heavy D was born in Jamaica and was raised in New York. He began his music career as a young adult and formed a hip hop group called 'Heavy D and the Boyz.'

The act's debut album, 'Livin' Large,' was released in 1987. A year later, sophomore record 'Big Tyme' hit stores and went platinum. The group's breakout hit, 'Now That We Found Love,' was released in 1991 and is featured on the group's third album, "Peaceful Journey." Heavy D and the Boyz also achieved mainstream success with the 1994 song 'Nuttin' But Love.'

Heavy D released his first solo album, 'Waterbed Hev,' in 1997. His fourth, 'Love Opus,' hit stores in September. A month later, Heavy D performed at the 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards in October 2011, marking his final major televised performance and his first live one in some 15 years.

Heavy D and the Boyz is also known for singing the theme song for the television program 'In Living Color.' The rapper also provided vocals on Michael Jackson's 1991 song "Jam" and on the King of Pop's sister Janet's 1990 song 'Alright.'

Heavy D also worked as an actor. He starred on the television drama "Boston Public" between 2000 and 2003 and also appeared on "The Tracy Morgan Show." He played Sid Shapiro on the FOX series 'Bones' and recently guest starred as a manager of an NBA player on the NBC show 'Law and Order: Special Victim's Unit.'

The rapper also appears in the 2011 comedy film "Tower Heist," which stars Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller. Heavy D played a courthouse guard.

(Pictured: Heavy D appears in a promotional photo for his 2011 album, 'Love Opus.') (Stride Entertainment / Federal Distribution)