The Unexpected Death of Rapper XXXTentacion: How Exactly Did He Die?

XXXtentacion death
XXXTentacion at Home, March 2018. Photo by Jack McKain.

Last updated on August 3rd, 2023 at 08:59 am

American rapper and singer Jahseh Dwayne Ricardo Onfroy, professionally known as XXXTentacion, was shot several times during a robbery in Florida while leaving a motorcycle dealership, leading to his death at the age of 20.

While controversial and haunted by personal demons, XXXTentacion produced music that explores heavy themes such as depression, loneliness, and suicide, amassing many followers and fans who mourned his unexpected passing back in 2018.

Tributes began the moment after his death was announced to the public, with many fans expressing their grief in different ways. Despite XXXTentacion’s history of violence, those mourning his loss still deem him a troubled genius.

Let’s dig deeper into XXXTentacion’s life and career and take a look at a few of the key events that led up to his death, as well as what the future holds for fans and supporters of the late rapper.

mural of famous rappers including xxxtenacion
Image from Shutterstock

Who is XXXTentacion?

Jahseh Dwayne Ricardo Onfroy was born on January 23, 1998, in Plantation, Florida. At an early age, he was separated from his mother, who got pregnant with him as a teen and had significant financial issues. This led the soon-to-be-star to live with other people for most of his childhood.

By the time he was 12, he began living with his grandmother, who became a mother figure to him. “My grandma really feels like my mom,” he stated in a Miami New Times article. “My mom almost feels like more of a sister.”

Like his childhood as a problematic kid at school, his teenage years were filled with controversial issues. When he graduated in 2012, he had a record of serious offenses, including armed robbery, burglary, and possession of a firearm. This led him to spend a short period of time in juvenile hall, where he viciously attacked his gay cellmate for staring at him while naked.

When he was released from juvie, his music career began. He ordered a mic on eBay and started to make music. 

After launching his first track “News/Flock” on SoundCloud in 2013, he continued to upload new music and began to grow a rather large fanbase. By 2018, he had more than 2 million followers on the platform.

After that, his short but noteworthy music career only rose. He released two studio albums, ? and 17, four mixtapes, and five extended plays, including many songs that made it to the top of the charts. 

He also collaborated with many renowned artists, such as Travis Barker, PnB Rock, Joey Bada$$, and Lil Yachty.

But his controversial attitude did not stop when his success started to escalate. The rapper confessed to domestic abuse against his pregnant girlfriend, Geneva Ayala, and stabbing nine people. 

He also feuded constantly with other artists and sparked outrage with a music video showing him lynching a white child, among many other situations that caused an uproar among music enthusiasts and the public at large.

How Old Was XXXTentacion When He Died?

The rapper and singer was 20 years old when he died.

XXXTentacion ambushed near Deerfield Beach soon before the murder. September 29th, 2018. Photo courtesy of Broward County Sheriff’s Office.

When And Where Did XXXTentacion Die?

In the afternoon of June 18, 2018, XXXTentacion was shot and killed in an apparent robbery by four people outside RIVA Motorsports, a motorcycle and watercraft seller in Deerfield Beach, Florida.

How Did XXXTentacion Die?

On June 18, Onfroy went to the bank to withdraw some money before heading to RIVA Motorsports. After withdrawing money, he was followed by alleged murderers Dedrick Williams, 22, Michael Boatwright, 22, Trayvon Newsome, 20, and Robert Allen, 22, in a dark-colored SUV.

Given that Williams recognized the rapper’s car the day of the killing, the police believe that the attack was targeted and intentional, not random. In fact, in her first interview after the rapper’s death, his sister, Ariana Onfroy, claimed that the murder was an “inside job” planned by someone in his inner circle.

“There’s somebody on the inside that knew where he was going to be and the exact time he was leaving for the murderers to know when to come and to do what they did. It definitely was set up,” she said to The Sun.

At 3:30 p.m. that day Onfroy arrived at the motorcycle dealership with his uncle. As suspect Williams spotted the rapper’s car the day of his passing, he called the other suspects so that they would go into the shop to confirm that it was actually Onfry before going through with the murder. 

Allen and Williams were recorded following the rapper and his uncle inside the store, as well as buying black masks earlier.

According to the county sheriff’s office, the 20-year-old rapper left the motorcycle shop and was driving away in his car shortly before 4 p.m. on June 18, 2018, when the SUV drove in front of him and blocked his way. 

Suspects Newsome and Boatwright then exited the vehicle and demanded “property” from the rapper. After a brief struggle, they shot Onfroy multiple times in the neck.

The rapper was then taken to hospital. He was in critical condition for about an hour and a half before he was pronounced dead due to the harm caused by the several shots on his neck.

When the news of his unexpected passing came to the headlines, fans started paying tribute to the late rapper. Many even shared an ominous video he had posted on Instagram Live only some days before his murder where he revealed how he would like people to remember him if he were to die.

“If I’m going to die or ever be a sacrifice, I want to make sure that my life made at least five million kids happy or they found some sort of answers or resolve in my life,” said the rapper in the video.

Who Killed xxxtentacion? 

About a month after XXXTentacion’s death, Dedrick Williams, 22, Michael Boatwright, 22, Trayvon Newsome, 20, and Robert Allen, 22, were charged with first-degree murder with a firearm and armed robbery in connection to the rapper’s passing.

It took the police nearly two months to arrest the four suspects, as they immediately escaped the crime scene. 

Williams was arrested two days after the killing, Boatwright was arrested on unrelated drug charges on July 5, and Allen was arrested on July 27. Newsome surrendered to the authorities in early August.

Update: XXXTenacion’s Killers Brought to Justice

The alleged killers initially pleaded not guilty to the charges against them, except for Williams, who claimed during his interrogation that he did not confess earlier due to fear of being labeled a “snitch.”

Robert Allen pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, a lesser-charge, on August 12, 2022. In exchange, he agreed to testify against the others charged in the murder.

The trial for Williams, Boatwright, and Newsome was held on February 7, 2023, with each of them being found guilty on all counts.

The drama may not be over, though.

Trayvon Newsome is seeking a new trial. He claims that a number of errors were made during the initial trial. 

XXXtentacion grave
Photo taken from outside of XXXTentacion mausoleum from his grave plaque. Photo by Sergio Perez Perez.

Where Is XXXTentacion Buried?

XXXTentacion is buried at the Gardens of Boca Raton Cemetery in Florida, where there’s a large mausoleum erected in his honor.

On the one-year anniversary of his death, his fans gathered at the gravesite to pay tribute, along with family members.

Which Celebrities Paid Tribute to XXXTentacion?

After the rapper’s death, there was a widespread outpouring of grief from celebrities and artists across the world. 

Kanye West, for instance, tweeted: “Rest in peace, I never told you how much you inspired me when you were here thank you for existing.”

“I’m at a loss for words… speechless #RIPXXXTentacion,” Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker wrote on his Twitter account. “Loved collaborating with you. You were a true artist, one of the most f**king talented of our time.”

J Cole, on the other hand, wrote: “This got me f**ked up. RIP X. Enormous talent and limitless potential and a strong desire to be a better person. God bless his family, friends and fans.”

Big Sean also expressed his grief for the passing of the rapper online: “My heart dropped when I heard about @xxxtentacion, I feel like we only got to see a glimpse of his artistry. I didn’t know him personally but I respect how passionate he was about his music and message. Nobody deserves this kind of ending. gone too soon, damn! RIP.”

XXXtentacion alive
XXXTENTACION in JANUARY 2020. Photo by King Zahara.

XXXTentacion Upcoming Documentary

XXXTentacion’s Twitter account posted an update to fans providing information on upcoming content —including new music and a documentary— on what would’ve been the rapper’s 24th birthday.

The documentary, titled Look At Me! was directed by Sabaah Folayan and premiered at the 2022 SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas. The film will soon be available on Hulu.

Originally announced in 2019, it will feature commentary from his family, friends, and romantic partners, as well as unreleased archival footage of the late rapper. 

According to the synopsis of the documentary, it will offer “a sensitive portrayal of an artist whose acts of violence, raw musical talent, and open struggles with mental health left an indelible mark on his generation before his death at the age of 20.”

Written by Bo Weber

Supporting artists since 2014


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