NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Thousands gathered outside the Barclays Center on Saturday for a memorial for legendary rapper DMX.

The 50-year-old Yonkers native, born Earl Simmons, died April 9 after suffering cardiac arrest.

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The NYPD temporarily closed down highways, like the Major Deegan Expressway, as his body was escorted some 20-plus miles from Yonkers to Brooklyn.

Chopper 2 followed the procession, the rapper’s red casket placed on the back of a monster truck.

Fans gathered outside the Barclays Center for hours to pay their respects, many of them still in shock.

“I couldn’t believe it. He was a true MC. He was straight from the heart,” one fan told CBS2’s Cory James. “He didn’t sell his soul out to be in commercial. He kept it rugged. He kept it underground.”

“I feel like I knew him, and I never met the man a day in my life. For him to have an untimely, this type of… It hurts. It really does,” another fan said. “Undeniably one of the illest rappers ever, like a legendary rapper. You will never get another one of those.”

Candace Jordan traveled from Chicago, saying it was DMX’s perseverance to push past his troubles that made her love the rapper and his music.

“The things that he went through and where he was at today, what he overcame … It touches me a lot,” she said.

While DMX struggled with addiction, it never stopped him from climbing to the top of the music charts.

READ MORE: DMX Dies At Age 50 After Days On Life Support At White Plains Hospital

The Grammy-nominated rapper delivered iconic hip-hop songs such as “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem” and “Party Up (Up in Here).” He also starred in several films including “Belly” and “Romeo Must Die.”

He was also the first and only rapper to have his five albums consecutively debut at number one on Billboard.

Inside the arena, family and friends paid tribute to the Ruff Ryder.

The event was closed to the public and limited to close friends and family due to COVID restrictions.

In a statement, organizers said the service would follow New York’s testing guidelines and other protocols. Indoor arenas are currently limited to 10% capacity.

The hour-long service was livestreamed on DMX’s YouTube channel.

The rapper’s sudden, unexpected passing took a toll on close friend and hip-hop artist Drag-On.

“I’m trying my best not to cry right now, but I’m not s*** without this dude, bro. You feel me? He taught me everything I know,” he said.

But despite the tears, there were uplifting moments, especially one where DMX’s young daughter performed a rap song on stage to honor her father.

“I’m growing. I’m learning to hold my head up. My daddy still holding my hand, so I gotta stand up,” she said.

DMX leaves behind 15 children.

His funeral service will be held Sunday at 2:30 p.m. It will be broadcast live on BET and the network’s YouTube channel.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Cory James