Rapper Rick Ross was reportedly hospitalized in Alabama after suffering two medical scares in six hours that required planes to be diverted.
The first scare came Friday afternoon as Ross was on a Delta Air Lines flight from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Memphis, Tenn., where Ross was scheduled to appear at a University of Memphis basketball event that night. The plane returned to Florida after Ross suffered an unspecified medical problem. He was treated at a Fort Lauderdale hospital, and he even tweeted afterward: “Memphis here I come.”
But after Ross hopped a Memphis-bound private jet, it made an unscheduled landing in Birmingham, Ala., because the 34-year-old singer experienced another medical problem, Memphis basketball coach Josh Pastner told a crowd at the Friday night event where Ross was to appear.
“On his way to Memphis,” Pastner said, “he had to make another emergency landing, in Birmingham. He got really sick again, and they had to rush him to the emergency room.”
WMC-TV in Memphis reported that Ross suffered a second medical seizure and had been hospitalized. The news station said the University of Alabama-Birmingham Hospital would not comment on his condition.
A hospital spokeswoman told The Associated Press that no one by Ross’s name or his real name, William Leonard Roberts II, was listed as a patient. An emergency room representative, citing federal privacy laws, said she could not confirm the identity of anyone being treated there.
Birmingham airport spokeswoman Toni Bast confirmed to The Associated Press that a private plane traveling from Fort Lauderdale to Memphis made an unscheduled landing in Birmingham at around 5:30 p.m. because of a medical emergency, but she could not provide any further details.
Calls to Ross’ publicist from the AP were not returned Friday.
Ross was scheduled to perform Friday night at the University of Memphis basketball team’s midnight opening practice event, “Memphis Madness.”
Authorities said Ross was on the Delta Air Lines flight when he suffered the first medical episode at around 1 p.m. The flight, carrying 121 passengers, returned to Fort Lauderdale.
Mike Jachles, a spokesman for Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue, said the flight landed at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and was met by paramedics. They performed what Jachles called “advanced life-support care,” though it did not include CPR.
Jachles could not specify what exact care Ross was given, but he said the performer was stable, breathing, conscious and alert.
Ross was in a seat when paramedics reached him and he walked off the plane, Jachles said. He was taken to a terminal area where he was evaluated before being transported to the hospital to be checked out.
Jachles said there was a doctor on the plane who had tried to assist Ross, though he could not say what, if anything, the doctor did.
“Nobody told us, either when we were advised, dispatched or on the scene, no mention was made of CPR being initiated or in progress,” Jachles said.
Soon after going to the hospital, Ross contacted Memphis officials to tell them he was still coming.
“He called a member of our staff and said not to believe what’s out there and that he’s on his way to perform at Memphis Madness,” Lamar Chance, a university athletics department spokesman, said Friday afternoon.
“He called us,” Pastner explained Friday evening. “We talked to him after the doctors cleared him. He said it was the altitude.”
A video on his Twitter page Friday night showed a relaxed Ross talking from an airplane seat on the second flight and promising to appear as scheduled in Memphis.
The Miami-based gangsta rapper gained fame with his husky voice and lyrics that spotlighted the grimier side of Miami life. He has become one of rap’s most popular figures in recent years.
Ross has a new album entitled “God Forgives, I Don’t,” due out in December. The hefty rapper’s hits include “Aston Martin Music,” '‘B.M.F. (Blowing Money Fast)” and “Hustlin’.”