Friday would have been Juice WRLD's 24th birthday. He died 6 days after turning 21 in 2019.
HOMEWOOD, Ill. (WLS) -- It's been nearly three years since Chicago rapper and artist Juice WRLD passed away from a drug overdose. Now his mother Carmela Wallace is honoring her late son with a new investment in the south suburb where he went to high school.
"I can't think of a better way to pay honor to him, seeing that we're building it in his honor," Wallace said. "Everyone involved in the project, like I said, it's a work of love."
Jarad "Juice WRLD" Higgins is still wildly popular in Chicago and beyond nearly three years after his passing. Friday would have been Juice WRLD's 24th birthday.
"His birthday, what a better way to start a new venture than breaking ground on a special day. So, I think he would love it," Wallace said.
Now Wallace is posthumously honoring her son by giving back to the south suburban village of Homewood where he grew up and went to high school.
"That warm sense of community that you get here and just the fact that Jarad loved Homewood," she said. "Well, after he became famous, he would come back to Homewood until it got to be that too many people were coming to my house. But he always came back home, so it's special."
Wallace broke ground Friday on a new brewery and restaurant called Homewood Brewing Company. But the venture is about so much more than dinner and drinks.
"I do it for him. It's passion behind it," she said.
Wallace said she wants this to be a place to gather, to remember, to celebrate life and her son who years later, she said, still connects with people in times of crisis through his music. That's why she started her foundation Live Free 999 in his honor.
"Actually, it started with him," she said. "I'm carrying on his message. Because he always had a message for his fans. Something about his music, it touched them. It made people feel they weren't alone."
Wallace said in the past year the foundation started a crisis text line and is working to connect people to share their stories.
"Often times you think, 'I'm the only one going through this.' So, people are just being open and honest, and they're sharing and they're reading just to build a community of people to know you're not alone," Wallace said.
The brewery is set to open in 2024 but next week, December 8th is the second annual Juice WRLD day concert at the United Center. Thousands are set to gather to honor Higgins' life. And Wallace said she's looking to expand boots-on-the-ground mental health services with her foundation Live Free 999.
More resources from the foundation can be found at https://livefree999.org/.