Celebs

Kris Kross member found dead in Atlanta home

May 1, 2013 at 11:12 PM ET

UPDATED Thursday, 8:09 a.m.: Chris Kelly, one-half of the rap duo Kris Kross — known for making America "Jump" in the 1990s — passed away on Wednesday, Georgia authorities announced. He was 34.

Kelly was discovered unresponsive in his Atlanta home and pronounced dead at Atlanta Medical Center shortly after 5:30 p.m. local time, according to the Fulton County Medical Examiner.

Video: The rapper was found unresponsive in his home and pronounced dead at an Atlanta hospital. The official cause of death hasn’t been determined, but authorities say “it appears it may have been a possible drug overdose.” NBC’s Mara Schivaocampo reports.

The cause of death has not yet been determined. An autopsy is planned for Thursday.

Kelly and fellow Kris Kross member Chris Smith were just 13 in 1991 when they were famously discovered at Atlanta's Greenbriar Mall by well-known rapper and producer Jermaine Dupri, who was just 19 himself.

Kelly went by the nickname "Mac Daddy" and Smith went by "Daddy Mac."

Kris Kross.
Martina Raddatz/Redferns / Getty Images Contributor
Kris Kross in 1992.

They were best known for the 1992 hit "Jump" on their debut album "Totally Krossed Out" and their penchant for wearing their clothes backwards. "Jump" rode the No.1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for eight weeks, and that same year, the teens toured Europe as part of Michael Jackson's "Dangerous" world tour. Although they would go on to release two more albums, they would never again reach the heights of "Jump."

The duo also had a video game (ranked one of the 20 worst of all time by Electronic Gaming Monthly) and recorded a rap song for the cartoon "Rugrats." They appeared on the "Cosby Show" spinoff "A Different World" and in the 1993 hip-hop comedy film "Who's the Man?"

In February, Kris Kross performed together once more, performing at the 20th anniversary party for So So Def Recordings, Dupri's Atlanta record label. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted that the two were "all grown up and wearing clothes the right way."

Kelly's mother, Donna Kelly Pratte, and record label So So Def released this statement:

"It is with deep sadness that we announce that our beloved Chris Kelly has passed away on May 1. To millions of fans worldwide, he was the trendsetting, backwards pants-wearing one-half of Kris Kross who loved making music. But to us, he was just Chris -- the kind, generous and fun-loving life of the party. Though he was only with us a short time, we feel blessed to have been able to share some incredible moments with him. His legacy will live on through his music, and we will forever love him."

Chris Smith issued his own statement, grieving over the loss of his one-time bandmate.

"Chris Kelly was my Best Friend," the rapper said in a statement, reported by E! Online. "He was like a brother. I love him and will miss him dearly.

"Our friendship began as little boys in first grade. We grew up together. It was a blessing to achieve the success, travel the world and entertain Kris Kross fans all around the world with my best friend," he continued. "It is what we wanted to do and what brought us happiness. I will always cherish the memories of the C-Connection."

On Wednesday night, rapper LL Cool J tweeted a link to his new song, "Jump On It," with the words, "R.I.P Chris Kelly. This song is now officially dedicated to you. May GOD embrace your soul & lift up your family."

Actresses Bonnie Franklin, Annette Joanne Funicello and comedian Jonathan Winters are just three of the famous names we've lost in 2013.
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