The Tragic Death Of Ice Cube's Sister

Although he's considered one of the Founding Fathers of gangsta rap — his hip-hop group N.W.A. rapped about gun violence, gang wars, and violence against police officers — Ice Cube's family also fell victim to violence. In 1981, Ice Cube's half-sister Beverly Jean Brown was shot and killed by her husband inside their home just miles away from where the legend lived, according to HuffPost. Ice Cube was only 12 years old at the time. 

His half-sister's death is something that's still on Ice Cube's mind. "I think about my sister a lot," he told HuffPost in 2013. "I think about the turn of events that triggered that situation." However, he added that he sees how the events that led to his sister's death are still in play today, noting that he doesn't have much hope for ending gun violence in America. Ice Cube, whose real name is O'Shea Jackson, added, "America is built on the gun. America is in love with the gun. It's a sick love affair. But it's just hard to break." 

While he spent his career rapping about the effects of gun violence, Ice Cube, who's a father-of-five, also said that he would never stop his family members from owning a gun. "If my sons wanted to buy a gun — as long as it was legal and they knew how to use it and they didn't plan on carrying it around all the time — they're grown," he said. However, gun violence will always be an unavoidable part of Ice Cube's family's history.

Ice Cube's sister's death was supposed to be a murder-suicide

In his 2016 book Original Gangstas: The Untold Story of Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Tupac Shakur, and the Birth of West Coast Rap, journalist and author Ben Westhoff wrote that Ice Cube's half-sister Beverly Jean Brown was 22 years old at the time of her death in the early '80s. After a "domestic dispute," Beverly's 27-year-old husband Carl Clifford Brown reportedly took her hostage and barricaded them both inside their South Central home. While Carl had apparently intended to commit murder-suicide, only Beverly died during the altercation. 

Per the Los Angeles Times' official report cited in Westhoff's book, although the officers who surrounded the home heard muffled shots, they attempted to communicate with Carl via loudspeaker and telephone. However, once the special weapons and tactics team entered the house, they found Carl had been injured and Beverly had been killed. Carl ultimately died one month later. The couple had a son, who was only 1 and a half years old, per public records mentioned in Original Gangstas.

In the book, Ice Cube told Westhoff that Carl was a "wannabe cop," who fell into a deep depression when he "started out for the [Los Angeles Police Department] and didn't make it." As suggested by Ice Cube's comments, had there been better access to mental health resources and alternative gun laws in that exact moment, perhaps Beverly and Carl's fates might have turned out differently. 

Beverly Brown's death didn't happen in a vacuum

Ice Cube was right when he mentioned how deeply guns have become entrenched in American culture, telling HuffPost, "America is built on the gun." His sister Beverly Jean Brown's death didn't happen in a vacuum. According to a 2013 Pew Research Center study, gun deaths escalated throughout the 1980s and only began a slow decline after the firearm homicide rate peaked in 1993. But that doesn't mean that guns haven't continued to kill people people unnecessarily in the interim. 

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there were just over 15,000 shootings in 2019 and around 24,000 suicides, including 627 murder-suicides. A study by the Rand Corporation — which is a "a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decision-making through research and analysis" — indicated that tighter gun laws could prevent such deaths. Via the Guardian, "an assault weapons bans could prevent 170 mass shootings a year in the U.S." and background checks could stop 1,100 gun homicides every year. Raising the age limit to buy a gun could also prevent 1,600 homicides and suicides annually.

Sadly, Ice Cube's half-sister's death is just one of many such cases in America, and until "common sense" and "gun laws" become one and the same, there may be even more preventable tragedies making headlines.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, or call the National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264).