There are Young Dolph lyrics suitable for any occasion, and a specific line the celebrated Memphis rapper certainly lived up to in his 36 years is "Live life to the fullest ’cause you only get one." The words he rapped on his 2016 track, "Real Life," highlight the way he approached both his professional and personal journey. Whether it was his independent success or the countless ways in which he gave back to the community, Dolph Gabbana was nothing like the rest. In the eight months since his death, family, friends and fans continue to honor his legacy. On what would've been his 37th birthday today (July 27), his fiancée, Mia Jaye, writes a heartfelt letter to the father of their two children. The missive, shared exclusively with XXL in visual and written form, details Mia and her children's experience in the wake of the rapper's passing due to gun violence last year.
Ten years ago, Young Dolph and Mia Jaye began dating. They met in the respected rhymer's hometown of Memphis, though Mia is a Detroit native. Two years later, the couple welcomed their son, Tre, 8. Then a daughter, Ari, 5, arrived in 2017. The 33-year-old mother of two, who affectionally refers to Dolph as her soulmate, has given the public a look into their life as a family via social media over the years. From a baby-on-the-way announcement to listening to old school music together, Mia's photos and videos highlight Dolph as a loving father and partner.
Mia Jaye, an entrepreneur who founded The Mom and CEO brand in 2019, initiated the Black Men Deserve to Grow Old campaign in 2020, following the murder of her brother, who was shot and killed in his place of business. What started as a campaign turned into a streetwear advocacy brand, which drives revenue to donate to those impacted by violent crime and to support organizations that provide resources for victims. A year after her brother died, Mia experienced another loss when Young Dolph, born Adolph Thornton Jr., was shot and killed on Nov. 17, 2021, while inside Makeda's Homemade Cookies in Memphis. Grief-stricken, Mia posed the question, "How am I ever going to tell my babies that daddy is never coming home?" after breaking her silence on Instagram two days after Dolph's death.
Losing a partner to gun violence has led Mia Jaye to step further into advocacy to support victims and families who've experienced similar loss due to senseless crime. Earlier this month, she spoke at the White House in celebration of the passing of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. "Protect our own, stop killing our own," Mia Jaye shares.
In the letter to Dolph, whom Mia refers to as Adolph, she reveals how their family has been "blemished" in his absence, yet she continues to reflect on the beautiful moments they experienced together. She also expresses how this birthday signifies the couple's favorite numbers: three and seven. Their children even share a few words about their dad.
The warm words arrive along with another Dolph celebration today. The lauded artist's first posthumous single, "Hall of Fame," has been released, which you can listen to at the bottom of this post.
Read Mia Jaye's heartfelt letter to Young Dolph in honor of his 37th birthday below. Check out the visual letter below as well.
This is the year that our favorite numbers come together. Three and seven. This is also the first year we don't have the opportunity to celebrate you together. Over the past eight months, life has been strange. Our beautiful family is blemished and myself, Tre and Ari can't go a day without reminiscing how beautiful life was with you. Ari tells everyone how amazing her dad was and how much he loved his chocolate baby.
'Daddy, I love you. Make sure you have a great birthday. Love, your chocolate baby.'
Tre is coming into that special young man you always spoke that he'd become. He admires you in every way and most days, I feel like he is the reincarnated version of you.
'Dad, thank you for having me as a son. I try to do my best to be a good brother. Amen.'
As for me, the load is so heavy. I miss everything about us and all that we shared. I often wish I could turn back time or do anything to still have you in the flesh, but I push past all the heavy and emotional thoughts and just focus on all the many ways I can honor, acknowledge and make you proud.
I love you even after the end of time and I thank you for allowing me to experience a genuine soul-tied love for as long as we did. Happy heavenly birthday, my love.