Ronnie Polkingharn : Eminem’s closest friend

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Although he was Eminem’s closest friend, we know very few things about Ronnie. Ronnie Dean Polkingharn was Betty Kresin’s (Eminem’s grandmother) sixth child. He was only two months older than Marshall. Both kids used to spend their whole free time together. Ronnie had a major influence on his nephew. He intoduced him into hip hop and break dance. It was his first album that inspired Eminem to become the gifted breakdancer he is now. Eminem remembers when his uncle Ronnie bought him the ‘Breakin’ album in 1981 :

When I was 9 years old, my uncle put me on to the Breakin� soundtrack. The first rap song I ever heard was Ice-T, Reckless., I was fascinated.

Marshall and Ronnie used to record rap tapes together. Both kids were separated when Debbie went to Detroit, but each time he returned to St Joseph, Missouri, he spent his whole time with Ronnie.
About Ronnie, Marshall says:

He was just like my best friend. He was the only family that I had, that I was close to.

According to Betty Kresin, both kids couldn’t stand being separated for a long time and insisted to see each other after several months of separation.

In 1991, on December the 13th , a big tragedy happened in Marshall’s life . Debbie called her son that day to tell him the bad news :

She was crying she was just kept crying, and I was like, what’s the matter, what’s going on she was like, Ronnie is dead.

Eminem was so shocked that he couldn’t attend the funeral. He just isolated himself and kept listening to Ronnie�s tapes.
As you probably know, Eminem upset his grandmother when he wanted to use his dead uncle’s voice for a new release in 2001. She misinterpreted her grandson’s intentions and intented to sue him. She also pretended that her grandson changed for the worse. At this time, granny Betty and her grandson had a serious argument. Betty wanted Marshall to pay for her bills when he became famous.

The next time I saw him, he asked me how much my bill was. I told him, and he never did a thing for me. He has never offered anything to his mother. Her gutter is falling off her house, and she has only recently got a used washing machine.

She also wanted him to exhume her dead son’s corpse in order to investigate on his death.

“They were really good pals”, she stated.

And she told Marshall :

Now you’re famous, you’ve got money, and you say you love Ronnie so much with that tattoo on your arm. I want his body exhumed to find out the truth about what happened.

Suddenly, Betty changed her mind and decided that Marshall wasn�t the bad guy she was talking about and reconciled with her grandson. She completed her book ‘The Ties That Bind’. This book will certainly and help us to know more details about Ronnie and Marshall’s childhood.

Eminem’s intentions were clearly to honor his deceased uncle :

I loved Ronnie. I’ve got a Ronnie tattoo on my arm.I wanted to pay tribute to him. Nothing bad, I’ll sell records regardless

The dog tag he wears around his neck comes from him and his tatoo is on his upper left shoulder (“R.I.P Ronnie”) is dedicated to his uncle.

It took Eminem a long time to cope with his uncle�s death. He was obsessed with his suicide and also fantasized about killing himself in his lyrics. In an interview given to ‘Music 365′ on April the 28th 2000, Eminem was asked if he wanted to end his life for good after this dramatic event:

-Music 365 : “Your uncle Ronnie committed suicide. Have your ever felt so low that you wanted to end it all? ”
-Eminem: “That’s always been something that’s been in the back of my mind, but I don’t think I have the balls to do it. There was this one time when I really felt like I wanted to do something to change my life, whether it would be doing something I regretted, or with rap or whatever. “

Fortunately and thanks to the inner strength he has cultivated inside of him, Marshall’s will to rap was stronger than his suicidal tendencies.

There are many references to Ronnie in Eminem’s songs. In his song ‘Stan’, from the Marshall Mathers LP, Stan says :

I read about your Uncle Ronnie too I’m sorry
I had a friend kill himself over some bitch who didn’t want him…�

Those lines refer to the circumstances of Ronnie’s death. His suicidal girlfriend might be responsible of Ronnie’s death, but it will remain a supposition. Ronnie was known as a sensitive man. He has been kicked out of the US army because he couldn’t stand guns. His death by gunshot was ruled suicide.

Another reference to his uncle can be found in the ‘Cleaning Out My Closet’ song where Eminem screams his pain and anger at his mom :

Remember when Ronnie died and you said you wished it was me? Well, guess what, I am dead. Dead to you as can be.

His everlasting pain expressed about Ronnie�s disparition can also be found in ” My Dad�s Gone Crazy” :

More pain inside of my brain, in the eyes of a little girl inside of a plane
Aimed at the world trade, standin’ on Ronnie’s grave,
Screaming at the sky�

The D12 song ‘Shit can happen’ lets appear another reference to Ronnie.

One man army, guns can’t harm me
Young and army, worse than my Uncle Ronnie
Ever since I got my first gun pulled on me
I can’t stop carryin out my dirty laundry
Middle fingers flipped and censorship�

Marshall used to idealize Ronnie and he always considered him best rapper than him. He didn�t even dare rapping in front of him, because he thought his rap wasn’t good enough compared to Ronnie’s. Once Ronnie visited him in Detroit and Marshall told Ronnie about his dream to become a rap superstar and his determination to go to the end. But Ronnie had given up rap for good, because he was convinced he would never make it.

Marshall’s best tribute to his beloved uncle is his success as a talented rapper.

Copyright© by Isabelle Esling
All Rights Reserved

  1. elle’s avatar

    omg i love eminem to death and adore him so much i think that what happened to ronnie was awful and i am so sorry for eminem but i want to ay i love you and good luck i have all of your albums andi love u to death R.l.P RONNIE

  2. Isra (your number one fan!)’s avatar

    Omg, I love you so much Eminem. You mean the world to me. I live for you. I’m really srry about Ronnie. If my best friend died i think i would kill my self!! Best of luck in rap. I love Gabby!!(best friend)lol!! I loved your last album! I hope you keep rapping till your heart stops. Ronnie R.I.P. Again srry about Ronnie! I LOVE YOU SO MUCH EMIN3M!

  3. Samah (Isra sister Iam your # 1 Fan)’s avatar

    I Love You Eminem!! I will do anything to meet you (including my sis)!!! I love your music!!! You are so hot!! Your the best rapper Alive!! no one can beat you!!! O Yea Ronnie R.I.P.!! Eminem I will die if u retire!! I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!!

    NUMBER ONE FAN!!!!

  4. Isra and Samah’s avatar

    Hi again eminem we no we rote to u 5 min. ago but we love you so much. we love you 2 much… wait there is no so thing as loving 2 much! any way Eminem we hope you pursue in your rapping for a long time!! Say hi to G-unit for us!! We love them but not more than you (no offence to g-unit lol) Lloyd Banks your so hot!! Ronnie R.I.P! WE LOVE YOU GUYS!! We feel so bad for you eminem. GGGG G-UNIT!! 50 cent, Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo, Young Buck!! Game Sucks!!!! Murder inc. sucks!! fat joe and Jadakiss r haters!!
    love, Your number one fans!!
    We love you!!!
    Isra and Samah (sisters)

  5. Isra and Samah’s avatar

    Hi Eminem Its Isra And Samh We Love You so much We Cant Stop talking to you !! We love all our Music!! We love all your lyrics they meen so much to us!! these are you r albums from 1-4: Slim Shady LP: The Songs on this Cd is :My name is, Guilty Conscience, Brain Damage, If i had, 97 Bonnie and Clyde, Role Model, My Fault, Cum on Everybody, Rock Buttom, Just dont give a fuck, As the world turns, iam Shady, Bad meets evil, Still Dont give a fuck. The second CD is called The Marsahll Mathers LP.the songs are Kill You, Stan, Who Knew, The way iam, The real slim shady, I’m Back, Marshall Mathers, Drug Ballad, Amityville, Bitch Please 2, Kim, Under the influence, Criminal. The third Cd is The Eminem Show: the songs are Curtains up, White America, busines C leain Out my Closet, Square Dance, The kiss, Solider, Say Goodbye Hollywood, Drips, Without Me, Paul Rosenberg, Sing For the moment, Superman, Hailie’s Song, Steve Berman, When the music Stops, Say What you say, Till I Collapse, My Dads gone crazy, Curtains Close, the forth Cd is Encore: the Songs are Curtains Up, Evil Deeds, Never Enough, Yellow Brick Road, Like Toy Soilders, Mosh. Puke, My 1st Single, Paul(Skit), Rain Man. Bid Weenie, Em calls Paul (skit), Just lose it, Ass like that, Spend Some Time, Mockinbird, Crazy In Love, One Shoot 2 Shot, Finally Thought (Skit), Encore, Curtians Close!!!! Eminem We love you so much We Wish we can meet you! your so hot!! I really really sorry For Ronnie we will do anything To help you we will Support you as long as were here u will be sappported by your favorite fans us!! please we really waqnt to met u and ur friends. We really want to ur next anger mangesment tour!! your really not retireing? right? WE LOVE YOU SO MUCH!!!! WERE LIKE SO OBSECCED WITH YOU!!! OUR SO ADORABLE!!! WE ADORE YOU!!! Ronnie R.I.P. If you love Ronnie so do we.

    P.S. FUCK YOU MURDER INC.! AND JADDAKISS AND FAT JOE AND THE GAME
    We love you g-unit We love you eminem!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Isra’s avatar

    hi eminem im your number one fan!! any im really srry about Ronnie. I think what happend to Ronnie is terible and if there is any thing i can do becides support me and love you.

  7. Irene’s avatar

    hey eminem. sorry about ronnie. i’m not a really big fan of yours but your cool anyway. my friend isra. that signed already loves you so much and she asked me to sign so i did.

  8. Isra’s avatar

    hi again it’s me!! i love you Ronnie!! R.I.P. i love you eminem! hope you do good rapping! i’m really sorry about Ronnie.

    bye~ Isra

  9. Isra’s avatar

    I love you!! Sorry About Ronnie. I love you. I love you!!! I want to met you

  10. LmG’s avatar

    hey eminem…if you are reading this message now i’d be really happy..love ur music..keep going strong! ( and i like the way u do the hand thing while u rap!)

  11. Reina Torres’s avatar

    EMINEM I LOVE I FEEL SORRY 4 UR UNCLE RONNIE I MISS HIM 2 B/C I READ ABOUT HIM SO MANY TIMES I WISH I WAS CLOSE TO MY PARENTS,UNCLE,COUSIN MOM WHO EVER IN MY FAMILY. AND 1 THING WE HAVE IN COMMON I HATE MY MOTHER THAT I WILL KILL HER BABY THATS ON THE WAY MUCH LOVE TO EMINEM REINA

  12. BEN’s avatar

    EM YOU RULE KEEP UP DA GOOD MUSIC PEACE OUT

    EMIN3M 4 LIFE

    #1 FAN

  13. jen’s avatar

    hi i just cried readin that about ur uncle ronnie n i cant imagine wat it feels like R.I.P i love u so much and i have done since i was 9 yrs old im ur biggest fan eva and ur so talented plz keep on rappin. ur music is the best n i lisin 2 it everyday i love ya so much

  14. ЙỄЬ’s avatar

    13th December a day that is dedicated to Ronnie R.I.P dude

  15. annelise’s avatar

    I LOVE YOU SLIM!!!! I KNOW ALL OF YOUR SONGS. IM SORRY ABOUT YOUR UNCLE. IM YOU NUMBER 1 FAN EMINEM!!!!!

  16. Isabelle’s avatar

    wow…i wasn’t aware this article would attract so many psycho fans, damn:( a legion of “biggest fans” or should i say “Stans”…please get a life, this is getting annoying!

  17. navinder’s avatar

    hi…eminem this is navinder from a corner(india) of this motherfucking world…
    i read abt. uncle ronnie…but the death is certain…
    it is a God’S time up game…v’ll h’ve to suffer from it

  18. Cherry V.’s avatar

    Hey.. Im really sorry of wat happen to yure uncle Ronnie R.I.P Ronnie I love yure music .. You mean the world too me ALOT! IM ur biggest fan like too the other planets or galaxy Lol :D IM ur #1 Fann!! I LOVE YOU EMiN3M !!!

    R.I.P Ronnie
    I Love You!!!!! EMiN3M!!

  19. Jishnu’s avatar

    EMINEM! EMINEM! He’s one guy i cn nvr undrstnd. N dat’s why i love him. Jst imagine him n his bst frnd/brthr/uncle rapin togethr.

  20. Shannon’s avatar

    I have been crazy about you from day one but I m not insane like these other freaks. I was raised and live in St. Joseph and hear about you all of the time “people that know you”!! However, my kids came home from school one day saying that their principal/pastor Mrs. Sharon Speigal married you and Kim and did your uncle Ronnie’s funeral. Wow unbelievable. Our family is very close to the Speigal family now that my 2kids have been going to school there for 3yrs. I just thought I was kinda ironic. Anyways keep your head up. I’ve been an addicted and tried to leave this world but I’ve have way to much to live for. I’ve now been clean from all for 4yrsa now and am proud of it. We love what you do M.

    With love, the Smith fam.

  21. Gianna’s avatar

    I’m so sorry I love you eminen
    I’m only ten years old and I
    listen to your music all the time
    I knew your uncle Ronnie died but
    I never thought like that R.I.P Ronnie
    Live you eminen keep raping until
    You die

  22. Obie’s avatar

    Jay c’mon come to indonesia

  23. Tracy’s avatar

    Good article, but you might want to work on your grammar. For example, “…girlfriend might be responsible of Ronnie’s death…” ‘Of’ should be ‘for,’ but it doesn’t take much away from the article. Good job!

  24. Isabelle’s avatar

    Tracy, I am not a native speaker of English, this is an old article, i perfected my language in the meantime…I do speak and write three languages fluently…in addition, I have a basic knowledge of two other languages…at this time, this article wasn’t perfect, I was getting started as a music journalist…thanks for your input:)

  25. Alex’s avatar

    I feel sorry for Em.

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