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How Did Mac Miller Die? The Tragic Story

May 31, 2023
how did mac miller die

On September 7, 2018, singer, rapper, and producer Mac Miller was found dead at his San Fernando Valley home. 

Sadly, his death resulted from a long-standing battle with drug abuse and depression, referenced in multiple songs he had written, including “San Francisco,” where he rapped about dying alone from an overdose.

This tragic event was just one example of how some rappers seem to have an unfortunate suspicion about their untimely deaths.

Despite the somber tone of some of his lyrics and the challenges he faced in his personal life, Mac Miller was a well-liked personality in the rap industry.

Entertainment Weekly published an article titled “Why everyone loved Mac Miller,” in which they noted that despite his passing, many online communities acknowledged Miller as an individual who possessed qualities such as being curious, compassionate, and widely cherished.

Mac Miller’s Early Life

Mac Miller, whose real name is Malcolm James McCormick, was born and raised in Point Breeze, Pittsburgh.

His parents, Karen Meyers and Mark McCormick have professional backgrounds in photography and architecture, respectively.

Mac Miller has an older brother named Miller, a graphic artist responsible for designing much of the artwork featured on Mac’s album GO:OD AM

The family has strong ties to the Jewish faith, and Miller had a bar mitzvah ceremony as a child.

Mac Miller’s family was not only tight-knit but also highly artistic.

Miller’s brother, Miller, was responsible for the album artwork several times.

Furthermore, Miller’s mother appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live with him, while his father appeared in one of his music videos.

In the event of an untimely death, Mac designated his mother, father, and brother as the beneficiaries.

The multifaceted abilities of Mac Miller were vast yet not fully explored before his premature passing in 2018.

He had accomplished a great deal of success and had influenced many, particularly younger musicians.

Mac Miller’s appeal was widespread, and it would be challenging to locate a young hip-hop enthusiast who did not appreciate his work.

While in school, Mac Miller fostered a passion for music, particularly hip hop.

He had taught himself how to play numerous instruments, such as lead and bass guitars, drums, and piano, without taking a formal music course.

Even after his tragic passing, Mac Miller continued to captivate fans with his work.

His posthumous album, Circles, received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rap Album.

In 2010, Rostrum Records signed Mac Miller to a record deal, and at the age of 15, he released his first album titled Blue Slide Park.

This album was an instant success, catapulting Miller into the limelight and launching his career as a sensation.

Blue Slide Park climbed the charts to become #1 on the Billboard 200.

In 2013, Mac Miller established his record label, REMember Music, which secured a distribution agreement worth ten million dollars with Warner Bros.

In addition to his music career, Miller began producing records under the pseudonym Larry Fisher.

Mac Miller’s unexpected passing left his fans in shock and with many inquiries about the young rapper’s future.

Unfortunately, he was grappling with several inner demons. 

What Happened On September 7, 2018?

Miller’s personal assistant arrived on September 7, 2018, to begin his day.

As per their usual routine, she woke him up at 11:30 a.m. since he had to shoot a music video that day.

Miller was scheduled to start his next tour in a few days.

When the assistant entered his room, she found him unresponsive.

There was alcohol and drug paraphernalia nearby and a $20 bill in his pocket that contained white powder.

Upon realizing that Miller did not have a pulse, the assistant immediately contacted emergency services.

The operator instructed her to move Miller’s body from the bed to the floor and perform CPR.

The paramedics arrived promptly, but they could not revive him despite their efforts.

He was declared dead at his home in Los Angeles at 11:51 a.m., only 16 minutes after the emergency call.

At the time of his death, he was 26 years old.


After conducting an autopsy, the Los Angeles County Coroner determined that the official cause of death was mixed drug toxicity – an overdose resulting from a combination of cocaine, alcohol, and the powerful opioid fentanyl.

Initially, the ruling was that the overdose had been accidental.

However, further investigation revealed disturbing details that suggested that while Miller was unaware that the drugs were tainted with fentanyl, his death was not entirely accidental.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid estimated to be 50 times more potent than heroin, and even a small amount can cause a fatal overdose.

The combination of fentanyl with cocaine can be especially lethal. 

Regrettably, Miller was not the first prominent figure to die from contaminated drugs.

Renowned artist Prince passed away in April 2016 due to an accidental overdose of fentanyl, which had been disguised as hydrocodone.

Similarly, singer Tom Petty died a year later from mixed drug toxicity caused by an unintentional overdose.

The Days Before Miller’s Death

The sudden death of Miller came as a shock to his friends and family.

It was widely known that he had struggled with addiction, partly due to his mental health issues.

Despite his challenges, he had made progress in his attempts to stay sober over the years.

Miller had admitted to using drugs daily at one point.

Nevertheless, in the last few years of his life, he achieved long periods of sobriety, despite a few relapses.

His assistant had noticed that he had a tendency to engage in drug binges, including one on September 4, just three days before his passing.

Miller was also romantically involved with pop star Ariana Grande from 2016 until May 2018, and there were rumors that their split was partially due to his drug use.

After their breakup, Miller continued to struggle with periods of sobriety followed by drug binges, and he was also charged with driving under the influence during this period.

However, during the middle of 2018, his life had more positive aspects than negative.

Friends said he was excited about his upcoming tour and ongoing projects.

The night before his death, Miller spoke with his mother on the phone, and she said he sounded happy and was looking forward to his tour.

Past Struggles With Addiction

Miller was candid about his struggles with depression and drug addiction.

He revealed that he had started using drugs as a teenager and was arrested for possession of marijuana in New York state in 2011.

Miller admitted that his addiction reached its peak in 2014 when he started taking promethazine to cope with anxiety while on tour.

During his relationship with Ariana Grande, she supported him in staying sober for extended periods.

However, Grande was always worried about Miller when she was on tour, and his relapses created tension between them.

In the fall of 2016, Mac Miller achieved three months of sobriety, acknowledging that it was difficult, but he appreciated how it helped him be more creative and work with greater focus.

Although Grande and Miller did not directly confirm that Miller’s drug use caused their breakup, sources close to both confirmed that it was a major source of tension in their relationship.

Following Miller’s death, his mother acknowledged that although her son had been forthcoming about his difficulties in maintaining sobriety, she was unaware of any previous instances of him overdosing.


The inquiry into Miller’s passing persisted until September 2019, a year after his demise.

The central issue was how Miller obtained the pills that resulted in his death and who was aware of their true nature.

Three individuals were apprehended a year later in connection to the rapper’s death: Cameron James, Ryan Reavis, and Stephen Walter.

Miller had reached out to Pettit to obtain Percocet, cocaine, and Xanax, but instead, Pettit supplied him with fake oxycodone pills containing deadly doses of fentanyl, which he obtained from Walter through Reavis.

In 2022, Stephen Walter pleaded guilty to charges of knowingly distributing fentanyl pills that were disguised as oxycodone, resulting in a fatality.

While Walter stated that he did not deliberately target Miller, he admitted to being aware that the pills contained either fentanyl or another controlled substance.

Walter claimed that he believed Pettit wanted the pills for his use.

Walter’s legal representatives reached a plea agreement that would result in him receiving 17 years of imprisonment, which is three years less than the typical federal minimum sentence of 20 years for fentanyl distribution.

However, the opposing counsel contended that Walter continued to distribute fentanyl pills until his apprehension in 2019, a year following Miller’s death. Walter refuted this allegation himself.


The news of Miller’s death left his loved ones in disbelief and anguish.

Celebrities who had previously collaborated with Miller, such as Missy Elliott, Wiz Khalifa, and Chance the Rapper, took to social media to express their condolences.

Miller’s former girlfriend, Ariana Grande, also shared a post on Instagram in which she expressed her grief upon hearing the news.

The pop star wrote, “I adored you from the day I met you when I was nineteen, and I always will.

I can’t believe you’re not here anymore. I really can’t wrap my head around it.

We talked about this so many times.

I’m so mad, I’m so sad, I don’t know what to do.

You were my dearest friend for so long, above anything else.

I’m so sorry I couldn’t fix or take away your pain.

I wanted to.

You were the kindest, sweetest soul with demons you never deserved.

I hope you’re okay now. Rest.”

September 11, 2018, saw numerous fans gather at Blue Slide Park in Miller’s hometown of Pittsburgh.

The location held a significant place in the rapper’s heart as it inspired his first album.

The vigil drew in thousands of people and is still regarded as a crucial aspect of Miller’s legacy, with a public memorial erected in Mac Miller’s honor.

Mac Miller’s Acting Career

You’ve likely come across Mac Miller on television, as he has made several appearances as himself on various shows such as Punk’d, Mac Miller and the Most Dope Family, Ridiculousness, and numerous talk shows.

He was also featured in several short YouTube videos, some of which could be categorized as acting, while others simply showcased his natural persona behind the camera.

Despite this, Mac Miller did have a few proper acting gigs to his credit.

In 2013, Mac Miller’s sole fictional movie appearance was in Scary Movie V, where he portrayed the character of D’Andre alongside Snoop Dogg.

By this point, the franchise had become stale, and the fifth installment was essentially a compilation of references to its earlier films, albeit with Miller and Snoop.

Mac Miller’s only other noteworthy acting role was in a single episode of Loiter Squad, a sketch comedy program that aired on Adult Swim.

Although not extensive, his stint on the screen adds to the multitude of achievements the young actor accumulated in his brief lifetime.


After his death, Mac Miller’s remains were transported from his residence in Los Angeles to his birthplace of Pittsburgh.

His family had arranged for his interment per Jewish customs in a private ceremony in mid-September 2018.

The rapper was laid to rest in Homewood Cemetery in Pittsburgh, which is ironically the location where he had filmed one of his earlier music videos, “Nike’s On My Feet,” back in 2010.

As a teenager, Miller and his friends would frequent the cemetery, as he had previously mentioned.

A commemorative concert was organized in October 2018 to pay tribute to Mac Miller’s legacy, where numerous associates and former collaborators took to the stage to perform.

The event served as a fundraiser for the Mac Miller Circles Fund, which strives to finance art initiatives for young individuals and communities.

Subsequently renamed the Mac Miller Legacy Fund, the organization was able to amass a considerable sum of money, enabling it to award its inaugural grants in May 2019.

Some of these funds were given to MusiCares, which established a new program named the Mac Miller Legacy Fund to aid musicians grappling with addiction.


After Mac Miller’s passing, his last album, Circles, was released in January 2020.

The rapper had been working on this album simultaneously with his earlier album, Swimming, intending to be complementary albums.

The album proved to be a resounding success, debuting at No. 4 on the Billboard charts and featuring a chart-topping single, “Good News.”

Mac Miller’s album Swimming, which he had finished before his untimely passing, received a posthumous nomination for the Best Rap Album Grammy Award.

However, it ultimately lost out to Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy.

Despite his relatively brief career, Miller is remembered as one of the most gifted and promising young rap artists of his era.

His tragic death curtailed his professional and personal life far too early, serving as a somber reminder to others battling addiction, particularly concerning opioids.

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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