Eminem has praised rapper Proof, who was shot dead earlier this week, for his "guidance and encouragement," calling him "my best friend," in a posting on his Web site.
Proof, whose real name is Deshaun Holton, was killed early Tuesday in a shooting at the CCC, a nightclub in a strip of businesses along Eight Mile, the road made famous in the 2002 film starring Eminem.
The 32-year-old rapper, a member of D12, was the best man in Eminem's January wedding. Seldom was Eminem seen in public without Proof.
"He pushed me to become who I am. Without Proof's guidance and encouragement there would have been a Marshall Mathers, but probably not an Eminem and certainly never a Slim Shady," the statement by the 33-year-old rap superstar said. "He can never, ever be replaced. He was, and always will be, my best friend."
Police have said that Proof fired the first bullet inside the nightclub, touching off a shootout that ended his life.
The bullet hit Keith Bender, 35, in the head, critically injuring him, police said. Bender remained in critical condition Thursday at an area hospital, his mother, Leona Bender, said.
Proof's family believes a police investigation will clear his name, Proof's lawyer, David J. Gorosh, told The Detroit News. "Our position is the facts of this case will speak for themselves," he said.
Detroit police spokesman James Tate said 15 to 25 people were in the club at the time of the shooting, and detectives were still trying to locate some of them.
Most of the witnesses told investigators that a fight broke out between Bender and Proof, and that Proof struck Bender with a handgun before shooting him once in the head, Tate said.
Detectives were looking into whether the fight was over a pool game, but they have not settled on a single theory, Tate said. Most of the witnesses agree on the cause of the fight, Tate said Thursday, but he would not reveal what they said.
A suspect in Proof's death remained in police custody as investigators forwarded their reports to the county prosecutor, reports AP.
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