NEW YORK Sporty Thievz member Marlon Brando, who rapped on the group's hit TLC parody "No Pigeons," died in a car accident in the Bronx early Friday morning.
Brando, whose real name was Marlon Bryant, was walking out of a deli around 3 a.m. when a minivan ran a red light, jumped a curb and slammed into him, according to Sporty Thievz DJ Gehai. The accident crushed both of his legs and sent his blood pressure plummeting he died shortly after an ambulance arrived on the scene, Gehai said.
The rapper was 22 years old and the father of a newborn baby, according to Gehai.
Sylvia Reyes, a spokesperson for Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the South Bronx, confirmed that Bryant was pronounced dead early Friday morning. A police spokesperson was unable to provide details on the car accident or information on whether the driver will face charges.
Sporty Thievz had just released a new indie-label album, In Stores Now (F--- Sporty Thievz), and were going to celebrate at an album-release party this weekend.
Gehai described Brando as "the conscience" of Sporty Thievz and a driving, creative force.
"He basically came up with the idea for all the hooks, the concepts for the song," Gehai said. "Bran was the comedian of the group. He'd been through a lot of sh--, like everybody else, but you'd always see Bran smiling and cracking a joke."
Sporty Thievz released their debut album, Street Cinema, in 1998, garnering radio play with the single "Cheapskate (You Ain't Getting' Nada)."
But the group's career moved into higher gear the following year when they released the single "No Pigeons," an answer to TLC's "No Scrubs" that used the original song's backing track but reversed its message.
The single was a major hit and was added to Street Cinema as a bonus track. In April 2000, the group released the single "La La," which became a hip-hop radio hit in its own right.
The Yonkers-based group, whose other members are King Kirk and Big Dubez, plan to stay together, according to Gehai.
"We got to," he said. "We owe that to Bran."