In September 2018 music lovers were shocked by the death of Mac Miller. But while some fans found it easy to point fingers at the star’s ex-girlfriend Ariana Grande, the rapper’s pal Shane Powers had some kind words to say about Miller’s former beau. And he revealed just how far Grande actually went for the troubled singer.
Born in Pittsburgh in 1992, Mac Miller was evidently a precocious kid. By the time he enrolled at the local Taylor Allderdice High School, in fact, the musician was already able to play drums, piano and bass. However – in the spirit of fellow Allderdice alumni Wiz Khalifa and Beedie – Miller decided that a career in hip hop was the only way to go.
Miller’s debut mixtape consequently came out when he was just 15 years old. However, this drive often came at the detriment of his school life. “I used to be into sports, play all the sports, go to all the high school parties,” he told Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2010. “But once I found [out that] hip hop is almost like a job, that’s all I did.”
The artist’s determination quickly paid off, though. At the age of 18, in fact, Miller was playing sold-out shows everywhere he went. And soon he was signed to Rostrum Records and working with high-profile names like Pharrell Williams. The rapper even caught the eye of one pop’s most treasured singers.
Yes, after reaching out to each other on Twitter, Miller began a friendship with pop princess Ariana Grande. In the beginning, though, their relationship was both platonic and professional. And following a few private collaborations, the two eventually paired up on Grande’s 2013 hit “The Way.” But it apparently became clear to both of them that they had more than just friendship to offer each other.
So in 2016, after photographers had caught the pair canoodling in a sushi bar, the two went public with their relationship. “We have loved and adored and respected each other since the beginning,” Grande admitted to Cosmopolitan magazine in 2017. “The love has been there the whole time.”
Yet although Grande herself had a squeaky clean image, Miller was no such angel. In fact, the artist admitted to Rolling Stone magazine in 2018 that he had a history of abusing narcotics such as cocaine and promethazine. “Have I done drugs?” he said. “Yeah. But am I drug addict? No.”
But despite Miller’s pleas to the contrary, the artist’s drug use was taking its toll on his relationship with Grande. And in May 2018, the singer revealed via Instagram that the pair had parted ways. “Unconditional love is not selfish,” the star wrote. “It is wanting the best for that person even if at the moment, it is not you.”
Despite initial explanations citing scheduling conflicts as a reason for the split, Grande soon confirmed that Miller’s drug use played a part in ending what she called a “toxic relationship.” “I am not a babysitter or a mother,” she tweeted that month. “I have cared for him and tried to support his sobriety and prayed for his balance for years.”
But following Miller’s split from Grande, things went from bad to worse for the rapper. In May 2018, for instance, he was charged with drunk driving after he crashed his car in Los Angeles. And sadly the star wouldn’t find a happy ending. In September 2018, in fact, Miller was found dead of what appeared to be an overdose at his residence in San Fernando Valley.
Almost immediately after news of Miller’s death spread, fans took to social media to mourn their loss. But although their sentiments were seemingly well-meaning, some commentators lashed out at Grande, who they blamed for the musician’s passing. The abuse got so bad, in fact, that the singer – now engaged to comedian Pete Davidson – prohibited comments on her Instagram feed.
While Grande was being attacked online, however, she still had support from those who knew her best. Devoting an entire episode of his podcast, The Shane Show, to Miller, Shane Powers actually took time to stick up for his friend’s former flame. And in doing so, the ex-reality star revealed just how much Grande cared for the rapper.
Far from being the catalyst for Miller’s downward spiral, Grande – Powers explained – was fighting tirelessly to keep the musician from becoming his own worst enemy. “She was incredible when he was first sobering up,” the T.V. star intoned. “She was a f****** G to him. There could not have been anybody more supportive of him being sober than Ariana.”
Powers said that while Grande tried her utmost to help, the pop star didn’t find it easy and routinely turned to Millers’ friends for advice. “I took phone calls from her,” Powers recalled. “[She asked] ‘How do I help?’ ‘What do I do?’ This little girl was unbelievably involved [with], and helpful to, him being healthy.”
Moreover, Powers was forced to admit that – despite Grande’s best efforts – Miller was ultimately past the point of help. “Whether he was an addict or not, the way that Mac partied was not healthy,” he said. He nevertheless stressed that Grande “was an unbelievably stabilizing force in his life.”
In addition to fighting Grande’s corner through his podcast, Powers also took the battle to Twitter. Responding to the pop star’s haters, the T.V. personality asserted, “Ariana Grande didn’t kill Mac. Mac killed Mac. Leave her alone.” He also implored Miller’s fans not to speak on the star’s behalf: “He’d be furious with ANYONE who made any s***** comment to her.”
On September 14, 2018, after nearly a week of silence, Grande finally made a statement regarding her ex-partner’s death. Underneath an intimate video of Miller bashfully hiding from the pop star’s camera, the singer detailed her heartbreak at not being able to stop his death. “I’m so sorry I couldn’t fix or take your pain away,” she wrote. “I really wanted to.”
But Grande also admitted that their time together was something she would forever cherish. “I’m so sad, I don’t know what to do,” the singer mourned. “You were my dearest friend for so long. Above everything else… the kindest, sweetest soul with demons he never deserved. I hope you’re okay now.”
By any standards, September 2018 was a difficult month for Grande. And since Miller’s death, the singer has been avoiding the public eye. She even went so far as to cancel an appearance at that month’s Emmys. Indeed, in a statement, the star’s representatives claimed that their client “needed time to heal and mend” in the wake of the tragedy.
And while Miller’s passing may have been untimely, those who knew and respected him the most have done their part to ensure that his name never slips from memory. A candlelit vigil – which attracted thousands of grieving fans just four days after his death – held in the rapper’s native Pittsburgh speaks to the influence this star had. Truly his is a light that will always burn bright.