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The Woman Behind The Music Legend: Big Pun’s Wife Liza Rios

From the romance between Liza Rios and Big Pun, the imparted wisdom of his mother, Gail Tirado, to his children carrying on his legacy, this article dives deep into the family life of one of rap's biggest icons, Big Pun. A candid account of the life and challenges of Big Pun.
by Rob Gillham | Dec 27 2023
The Woman Behind The Music Legend: Big Pun’s Wife Liza Rios

Big Pun, born Christopher Lee Rios, was a famous rapper and lyricist. His accomplishments in the music industry underscore his life story, his struggle with obesity, and his strong familial ties.

A central figure in his tale is Big Pun’s wife, Liza Rios, who offers an exciting narrative of a man who was a passionate musical genius.

Big Pun’s Wife and Backbone: Liza Rios 

In his early years, Big Pun struggled with poverty; after he moved out of his mother’s house at age 15, he had to live on the streets. However, Big Pun’s finances were soon changed when he received a large settlement from the city of New York from an incident in 1976, where he broke his leg while playing in a park.

Big Pun used part of this settlement to wed his high-school love, Liza, which marked the start of their life together in their own home.

In 1990, their marriage began – an enduring partnership where Liza remained steadfast through Big Pun’s rise to fame and the inevitable trials that followed. They had three children together: Star, Vanessa, and Christopher Jr.

She was a pillar of support during his music career as they navigated the highs and lows of stardom. Following Pun’s death, she bravely recounted tales of their marriage, shedding light on the diverse aspects of the rapper admired by so many.

The Matriarch: Big Pun’s Mother 

Born in the South Bronx, New York City, Christopher Rios was the child of Puerto Rican parents. He spent his early life in the Soundview neighborhood, growing up with two sisters and one brother.

His youth revolved around regular basketball games and boxing training.

At the age of 15, he left his mother’s home and faced a phase of homelessness during the late ’80s. Big Pun’s mother, Gail Tirado, played a significant role in the rapper’s life.

As a single mother raising Christopher in the Bronx, New York, she instilled resilience and tenacity, which would later become Pun’s trademark traits. 

Big Pun’s Health Problems and Death 

Throughout his adult years, Rios has to deal with severe weight issues. He tipped the scales at 180 pounds (82 kg) when he was 18, which rose to 300 pounds (140 kg) by the time he reached 21.

His weight swung back and forth in the 1990s, ranging from simply being overweight to reaching morbidly obese stages. In 1999, hopeful for change, Rios joined a weight reduction program at Duke University and saw a loss of 80 pounds (36 kg).

However, he left the program prematurely and eventually regained the lost weight. His size remained a regular source of contention among his friends, leading to situations where Rios would avoid eating in their company.

On February 5, 2000, Rios withdrew from a scheduled performance on Saturday Night Live with Fat Joe and Jennifer Lopez due to ill health. Tragically, two days later, while staying with his family at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in White Plains, New York, Rios experienced a heart attack and respiratory failure.

He was immediately transferred to White Plains Hospital, but unfortunately, the paramedics could not revive him, and he passed away at the young age of 28. He weighed an alarming 698 pounds (317 kg) at the time of his death. 

The Rapper’s Legacy: Chris Rivers 

Big Pun’s son, Christopher Rios Jr., walks in his father’s footsteps. Also known as “Chris Rivers,” has shown immense talent in hip-hop, using music to connect with his father and continue the family’s strong rap lineage. 

The Passing of Heavy D

A notable mention among Big Pun’s contemporaries is Heavy D, another influential rapper who collaborated with Big Pun on the track  On Point. Sadly, Heavy D also passed away relatively young. Aged 44 at the time of death, he lost his life on November 8, 2011. 

The details of Big Pun’s life and his family dynamics offer a ground-level view of the man behind the music. These stories balance the often glamorous narratives of fame, underscoring the struggles and triumphs that are a part of every icon’s journey, as they are for Big Pun’s wife, Liza Rios. 

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