The Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office has released details on what caused Joseph “Jo Mersa” Marley’s sudden death. Jo Mersa, who is Stephen Marley’s son and Bob Marley’s grandson, was found unresponsive in a vehicle at a Florida parking lot on December 26 last year.
The report, which was obtained by Rolling Stone, revealed that the deceased 31-year-old died as a result of “acute asthma exacerbation” after contracting either rhinovirus or enterovirus; infections with symptoms that usually appear as a common cold.
The documents stated that the young Jamaican reggae artist had a history of asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia and wasn’t taking his asthma medication during the period he died. The report also revealed the deceased musician had sought treatment for a chest abscess at a Florida hospital in March last year.
On Christmas day, which was the eve of his death, Jo Mersa informed his mother “he was feeling ill, ostensibly due to his asthma”, per the report. Though there was no sign of any injury, his lungs appeared congested and hyperexpanded. There were also signs of increased mucus in its airwaves, as well as “enlarged glottic tonsils” and black discoloration (in his lungs) due to smoking, Rolling Stone reported.
“An acute asthma exacerbation due to viral illness is a common occurrence and considered a non-allergic event,” the report stated. “Additionally, chronic smoking of combustible products such as tobacco or marijuana is dangerous in a person with asthma.”
The main psychoactive compound in cannabis, THC, as well as, naloxone and 0.08% of ethanol, were found in his body after a toxicology test.
Jo Mersa relocated to Florida after spending a part of his childhood in his native, Jamaica. He released EPs including Comfortable and Eternal. In a 2021 interview with the Jamaica Gleaner, the musician spoke about his songwriting process.
“In all honesty, it depends on the vibe because sometimes you will have a tune or idea, like a whole tune is in your head but no beat, and other times, you have a beat and no tune,” he said. “That’s for me, of course. I can’t speak for everyone. Some songs I am able to finish in a night, and some take longer.”
In a 2014 interview with the Jamaica Observer, the deceased musician touched on his father, Stephen’s, legacy and how it had impacted his career. “My father has created a legacy by putting out songs with meaning,” he said at the time. “It’s something I have to live up to.”
However, in another interview with the Pier, Jo Mersa told the news outlet that having the Marley surname did not come with any pressure. “There are things that you have to overcome and things you just have to do and that’s how it is. We have to go through life you know? There’s no pressure for me,” he said. “I give thanks for being a Marley. I’m very appreciative and thankful that I am born where I am born and put where God has decided. I’m very thankful about it and proud.”
He also spoke about his grandfather’s legacy in a 2021 interview with Reggaeville, revealing that it was something his family occasionally reflected on. “We always hear those reflections, speaking about those things, about the role that he played not only as family member and father, but also in the world and the impact he had on the Reggae community and the Reggae culture, the roots, bringing forward the message of Rastafari and love, over all love,” he said.
Jo Mersa’s father, Stephen, is one of the 11 children Bob Marley left behind after passing away in 1981.