Joe Mersa Marley Cause of Death: How the Reggae Star Died at 31

Joe Mersa Marley, the grandson of Bob Marley and son of Stephen Marley, passed away on December 27, 2022, at the age of 31. He was a talented reggae artist who followed in the footsteps of his legendary family. His death shocked and saddened his fans and the music industry. But what was the cause of his death? How did he die so young?

Asthma Exacerbation Due to Viral Infection

According to the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office, Joe Mersa Marley died of “acute asthma exacerbation” after being infected with rhinovirus or enterovirus, which often presents as symptoms for the common cold. The report states that Marley had a history of asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia and had not been taking his medication for his asthma diagnosis at the time of his death. He was also seen at a hospital in Florida in March, months prior to his death, for a chest abscess.

The report also indicates that Marley had spoken to his mother on Christmas Day, the day before his death, and “informed her he was feeling ill, ostensibly due to his asthma”. The next day, he was found “unresponsive” in the parking lot of a Ross Dress for Less inside his vehicle. The car’s engine was turned off, and he was pronounced dead after officers attempted to perform CPR.

The Medical Examiner’s Office states that “an acute asthma exacerbation due to viral illness is a common occurrence and considered a non-allergic event”. However, they also note that “chronic smoking of combustible products such as tobacco or marijuana is dangerous in a person with asthma”. A toxicology report detected THC, the chemical in marijuana, along with naloxone and 0.08% of ethanol in his body at the time of his death. (Naloxone is commonly used to reverse an overdose by blocking the effects of opioids, but it is unclear at this time why the drug was found in Marley’s system)

A Promising Career Cut Short

Joe Mersa Marley was born in Jamaica in 1992 before moving to Miami at age 11. He was surrounded by music and as a kid, even taking the stage with his father and Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers (the group comprising his uncle Ziggy and aunts Sharon and Cedella). Often, as Marley told Rolling Stone in a 2014 interview, he and his cousin Daniel Bambaata Marley (Ziggy’s son) were tasked with singing the Melody Makers’ 1989 song, “Look Who’s Dancing”.

Marley debuted in 2014 releasing, through iTunes and Spotify, an EP “Comfortable”. He also appeared on a Grammy-winning album Strictly Roots by Morgan Heritage. He released his second EP, Eternal, in 2021, which featured collaborations with his father, uncle Damian Marley, and cousin Skip Marley. He was working on his debut album at the time of his death.

Marley was known for his versatile style, blending reggae, dancehall, hip-hop, and R&B. He also had a charismatic personality and a positive outlook on life. He once said, “I just want to make people happy with my music”. He left behind a wife and a daughter, and his unexpected passing has led to an outpouring of appreciation from the musical and political worlds.

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Doms Desk

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