On May 31, 1964, a legend was born. You know him as “D.M.C.” of the groundbreaking, visionary rap group, Run D.M.C. The trio was the first group of its kind to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine. The first rap music videos on MTV belonged to them. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009. VH1 dubbed them the Greatest Hip Hop Group of All Time. In addition to being a part of all those things, D.M.C. is a late discovery adoptee.
Darryl McDaniels, D.M.C., was raised in Hollis, Queens by a middle-class family. He was often bullied for the glasses and uniform he wore to Catholic school. He was raised by Byford and Banna in a big family he spoke of frequently. They were warm and caring. The couple held memorable family gatherings everyone loved to be a part of. Sometimes friends would tease McDaniels for not looking like his folks, but any tiny feeling of truth was immediately dismissed by how wonderful they were. As he grew older he rhymed about his family, his life, and himself. The more boldly he declared himself in his music, “I am the King of Rock, I am the microphone master, I am the devastating mic controller,” the more a small void began to open underneath.
As his fame grew, so did his drinking. He became depressed. He felt there had to be some greater purpose to his life besides musical accolades. He successfully completed rehab, but the depression persisted. Thoughts of suicide crept about. He decided that he wanted to write a book to tell his story in case anything happened to him. He wanted people to know his life personally, not just the glamorous highlights. At 35 years old, Darryl McDaniels sat down to write his autobiography. He called his mom for some basic birth stats, and what he learned was so much more. His mother and father told him of his adoption, and how they brought him home from the hospital when he was a month old. At first he was angry. How could everyone around him have known this secret but him? It was a very difficult time for him, but one that would ultimately change his life for the better.
He searched for and found his biological family. He was pleasantly surprised to discover “Darryl” was the name he had been given at birth. That fact acted as an anchor for him. He was indeed always the person he had claimed to be. Even though he had no control over the situation he was born into, he had taken control of who he would become. He uses transformational support from a therapist to help process all of his emotions. Feeling torn between two worlds can be quite daunting. He openly shared his birth story in “Just Like Me” with lyrics such as “she was just a young girl in her youth, and her parents tried real hard to hide the truth.” When he first spoke out about his adoption he felt alone, but has since uncovered an entire community of adoptees who are like family. This American icon is now using his story to inspire and empower.
He says, “What I have learned over the past couple of years is that every part of your existence, everything that is relevant to you, every experience, every revelation, every piece of your life story-fortunate or unfortunate, horrible or terrible-is part of your story.”
Click here to read more of Darryl’s story.
Photo Credit | Official Run-DMC Website