MIAMI — DJ Irie has as many NBA championship rings as Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. He actually has one more than LeBron James and Hall of Famers Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley and Dominique Wilkins combined.
“I’m the only DJ to have an NBA championship ring,” Irie said, as his speedboat left the marina in Miami. “I didn’t have to shoot no free throws, in-bound no balls. I definitely kept it funky and kept it hot and I reaped the benefits of being on a championship team.”
Irie has been the Miami Heat’s official DJ for the past decade. The marketing department sought him out after word got out that he was tearing up the Miami clubs with his turntables.
“The consensus was, ‘This DJ Irie dude [is] doing it big in the clubs,’ ” he explained. “The Heat really embraced it and it’s something I don’t think the Heat fans can do without. Whether it’s DJ Irie or someone else, a team DJ will stand the test of time.”
Irie — a Jamaican word for “good” — was born in the Virgin Islands and grew up in Jamaica, and his family eventually settled in Miami. Seventeen years ago his family, along with most of Florida’s residents, suffered a tragedy.
“I lost all of my worldly possessions in 1992,” Irie says of Hurricane Andrew. “My family had to start over from scratch.”
Irie and his family were home when the hurricane hit, and they survived by running from room to room as the roof was being ripped off. They ended up in the garage, and backed the car against the garage door to keep it stable.
“I had never seen this kind of destruction before in my life,” he remembered. “There were boats that were 35, 40 feet that came from marinas miles away on my front yard. You can’t fathom that kind of destruction unless you live through it. There were cars wedged between houses. How does a car get up there? I’m just happy our family came out alive.
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“That’s Shaq’s house right there,” Irie says, pointing at a house on Fisher Island. Irie sometimes serves as a DJ at Shaquille O’Neal’s private events. He’s also got Terrell Owens asking him to show him around the decks.
“I’mma teach the homie T.O. how to DJ,” Irie said. ” ‘DJ T.O.’ He’s been out with me a couple of times. I’m just gonna sharpen him up, refine him a little bit, get him ready for showtime.”
Irie — born Ian Grocher — got his big chance to prove himself as the house DJ for legendary Miami hot spot Opium Garden back in 1999. The place was blowing up with celebrity clientele that included Russell Simmons, Sting, Prince and Puff Daddy. He rocked there until about 2004, moving on to Mansion and other clubs.
Now Irie spins about six times a week and even does his thing internationally. He says he’s elated to see his adopted hometown churn out a new wave of rap superstars like Rick Ross, Flo Rida and Pitbull.
“We have a whole slew of cats doing it not just nationally, but internationally,” he said. said. “Then we have underground guys such as Ball Greezy, Under Surveillance, Piccolo — you’re gonna see a whole slew of new talent in the next few months come out, and do it big as well.”
Maybe some of the guys can get on the debut LP Irie is currently working on.
“I know how to rock a party, rock a club — the album is going to be built for the clubs,” he promised.
All this week, MTV News will be celebrating Miami’s legends, superstars and upstarts. Keep checking back with us for more from the evolving city.