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Jermaine Dupri says Kris Kross' Chris Kelly was like a son to him.  In 1990, at the age of 19, Dupri discovered Kelly and his rap partner Chris Smith in an Atlanta shopping mall when they were 13 and 12 years old.  Twenty three years later he's grieving the death of his onetime protege. 

Dupri said in a statement, "To the world Chris Kelly was MacDaddy but to me he was the son I never had."  He says thinking back he probably spent more time with Kelly and Smith than nearly anybody in his whole life, adding, "so you can imagine how bad this hurts." 

The So So Def Recordings founder groomed Kelly and Smith to stardom with hits like "Jump" and "Warm It Up" and helped develop their unique fashion style of wearing their clothes backwards.  The duo recently reunited for a concert celebrating the 20th anniversary of Dupri's record label.  

Dupri concluded his statement, saying, "I will always love you Chris, and I will never let the world forget you.  May God bless your soul." 

The 34-year-old rapper was found dead Wednesday at his home in Atlanta. 

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