Ryan Lewis, one half of the hip-hop phenomenon Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, shared a startling bit of personal news this week when he revealed that his mother, Julie Lewis, has been HIV positive for 30 years.
In a video posted on the rap duo's website on Tuesday, Lewis laid out a story left untold during a period which brought a hit record, world tour, Grammy Awards and countless interviews.
"A huge part of what's made me who I am is something I haven't talked about in interviews," Lewis said in the video. "I'd love to tell you about the strongest woman I know. My mom, Julie Lewis."
Lewis goes on to say that when his mother gave birth to his oldest sister in 1984, she ended up needing a blood transfusion. It was during this procedure that the virus was introduced to her body. "At age 25, one year younger than I am right now, her life would change forever," Lewis said.
Julie Lewis gave birth to Ryan and another sister before learning years later, in 1990 at age 32, that she was HIV positive. She was given only a few years to live.
"I never thought I would be sitting here 30 years later talking to you," Julie Lewis said as she appeared halfway into the video.
The Lewis family then offered details on the 30/30 Project, an initiative born out of celebrating Julie's milestone and taking action for others. The project aims to provide "access to health care for those who need it most," Ryan Lewis said. "We want to build medical centers worldwide that will stand strong for at least 30 years."
The project's first destination for a planned medical center is Malawi, Africa, where Lewis said over 1 in 10 adults is living with HIV or AIDS.
Lewis concludes by saying that he is the first donor to the 30/30 Project, and he invites others to help the cause.
In another video, Macklemore speaks on the Lewis family story as well, before saying that he is proud to be on board and lending his support.
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