The rap star shares an exclusive excerpt from his new memoir Hurricanes, out Tuesday, detailing his debilitating 2018 health scare
“My life is really like a movie,” the star tells PEOPLE of what he realized while working with writer Neil Martinez-Belkin on his gripping tell-all. And some of the scenes — from his terrifying recollection of being the target of a drive-by shooting to the 2018 seizure that caused him to be hospitalized for four days — are extremely graphic.
In his book, Ross, 43, opens up about abusing codeine— a prescription opioid medication used for cough and pain relief. Between using large amounts of that substance along with alcohol and other drugs, the rapper began suffering debilitating seizures, the worst of which came last year.
Here, in an exclusive excerpt for PEOPLE, the rapper (who says he no longer uses codeine and is living a healthier lifestyle) reveals the shocking details of what transpired while at home with entourage members on the day of his most severe seizure.
Rick Ross' memoir Hurricanes
I’d caught a cold the day before and had a bad cough. I’d been taking DayQuil and using Vicks VapoRub all day. When I went to bed that night I had a seizure. But I didn’t come out of it the way I usually do. My breathing was all f—ed up. At around 3:30 in the morning the girl I was with went downstairs and told Tomcat I had s— myself and was foaming at the mouth.
A few minutes later I was able to get myself out of bed. I still wasn’t breathing right but I got into the shower to clean myself off and try to get myself together. When the paramedics and police arrived I had Tomcat turn them away. I’d been through this before. I’d be straight. But then I started coughing up blood in the shower. That had never happened before.
At that point Tomcat said I needed to go to the hospital. Short Legs came and took me to the closest one, where the doctors discovered I had aspiration pneumonia. Something had gotten into my lungs while I was having the seizure and caused an infection. I was sedated and hooked up to a breathing machine.
Rick Ross performing in 2015
KEVIN MAZUR/GETTY IMAGES
I’d gotten hospitalized for something similar a year before. We kept it under wraps and it never made the news but it was serious. What happened was after I took my plea deal in April I’d hit the road hard. As usual, hitting the road heavy resulted in me getting less sleep and my immune system being compromised. You can guess what happened next. On a flight home from Europe I had a seizure. I was in the hospital for a week.
This time the doctors were more concerned. Because I’d just gotten back from performing in Nairobi, Kenya. They were worried I may have brought back some sort of virus from Africa and wanted to put me under quarantine.
When my momma got to the hospital she took over the situation like she always do. She didn’t trust this place to treat me properly so she had me transferred to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, where they flushed my lungs with a tube and gave me a bunch of antibiotics. TMZ reported that I was hooked up to an ECMO machine but as serious as this was, it was never that serious.
(Adapted from HURRICANES by Rick Ross. Copyright ©2019 and published by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.)
In all, Ross counts himself lucky to be alive. And though he’s made healthy changes, like cutting out sodas, eating more vegetables and getting more rest, the opulent star doesn’t see himself getting any less fabulous.
“I still believe in enjoying and living life,” says Ross, who dropped 75 lbs. after his health ordeal. “It’s a slow process, but I see the progress I’m making.”
Rick Ross as a young man
COURTESY RICK ROSS
And as for why he’s being so candid about his life’s ups and downs in Hurricanes, Ross says it’s to inspire at-risk youth to dream despite their circumstances, like he did.
“As a kid, nobody ever came to me to say, ‘Man, you don’t know your multiplication but you could still become richer than anybody who ever went to this school,'” says Ross, who also details growing up in the tough Carol City neighborhood of Miami Gardens, Florida.
Rick Ross in August 2019
“I’m going to tell some youngsters that,” the father of four continues. “That even if you grew up in a neighborhood where people were dying…there’s a lot of options you can take. For one, you can be an author. That’s what this book is about.”
Hurricanes, by Rick Ross and Neil Martinez-Belkin, is available Tuesday in bookstores and on Amazon.com.