The Tragic Death Of Big Punisher

Christopher Lee Rios was a player long before Big Punisher was and he was arguably one of the best MCs of all time. When the hip-hop star died on February 7, 2000, the gravity of the loss was immediately felt across the hip-hop community, in part because Big Pun was just 28 when he died of cardiac arrest. The “Still Not a Player” rapper was born on November 10, 1971, in the Bronx, and was an ambitious charismatic young man despite a turbulent childhood.

In a short time, he went from underground rapper to being a prominent member of the Bronx hip-hop collective Terror Squad, founded by Fat Joe. Big Pun left home at 15 and became a young father soon after marrying his high school girlfriend, Liza. Between 1989 and 2000, MTV reports that Pun gained more than 500 pounds, despite seeking professional help for an eating disorder he ultimately lost his life to. Pun was just beginning to see the start of a thriving solo career when he died of cardiac arrest and respiratory failure. MTV reported that Dr. Louis Roh, deputy medical examiner of Westchester County, N.Y., also noted that Pun’s heart was enlarged and “about three times the normal size.”

The Terror Squad fallout

Perhaps the biggest tragedy coming out of the immensely popular Puerto Rican MC’s death is the drama between Fat Joe and Big Punisher’s widow, Liza Rios. Rios sued her deceased husband’s mentor and friend for $1,000,000 in 2014 over royalties she had not received since 2005, according to Hip Hop News Uncovered. As a result, the family allegedly experienced financial difficulties that left them homeless. The situation has left both parties salty — with Fat Joe missing the Big Pun Plaza street dedication ceremony, and childhood friend and Terror Squad member Cuban Link mincing no words regarding Fat Joe’s absence. Undoubtedly, Big Punisher would not be happy about his friend and the love of his life still fighting over money years later.

Fat Joe talked about Big Punisher’s health issues on VladTV, and acknowledged that his friend’s weight was a point of contention between them — leading Pun to feel self-conscious to the point that he allegedly stopped eating in front of his friends. Regardless of its cause, Big Punisher’s death was nevertheless a devastating blow to his friends, his family, and his fans.

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