RALEIGH, NC — Lynette Hardaway, a zealous supporter of former President Donald Trump whose death had sparked widespread speculation about the cause, died of a heart condition earlier this month, according to a death certificate obtained Monday by The Associated Press.
Known by the stage name “Diamond” from conservative political commentary duo Diamond and Silk, Hardaway, 51, died on Jan. 8 of heart disease brought on by chronic high blood pressure.
Hardaway and her sister, Rochelle “Silk” Richardson, found internet stardom as black women who fervently supported Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign. After making several campaign appearances with the former president, the two leveraged their fame to land regular commentator roles at Fox to get news. Their promotion of untruths about the coronavirus eventually got them cut, but they ended up with the far-right cable and digital media platform Newsmax.
Hardaway’s cause of death, which was not released by the family, had become a subject of widespread speculation. An outpouring of social media users suggested Covid-19 was to blame.
Many of the posts were based on an unauthorized and since deleted online report from November that claimed Hardaway had been hospitalized with Covid-19. Both diamond and silk vehemently denied that the virus had put Hardaway in the hospital.
Covid-19 was not listed as a cause or contributing factor on her death certificate, which was provided to the AP by the Hoke County Register of Deeds and signed by a local physician. No autopsy was performed.
A memorial ceremony in Fayetteville, North Carolina, streamed online Saturday, renewed speculation when Richardson suggested her sister’s death was somehow related to the Covid-19 vaccine. She insinuated that Hardaway may have been “poisoned” by another person who had been vaccinated, which the false idea that receivers can influence those around them.
At the memorial, Richardson called people who “suddenly died,” a reference that has become shorthand among some anti-vaccine activists for deaths they say have been caused by Covid-19 injections, despite studies showing the vaccines are safe and effective.
Richardson, accompanied by Trump on stage at the memorial, said her sister died after returning to her home in North Carolina after a relative’s birthday. Richardson saw that her sister looked strange, and Hardaway suddenly said, “I can’t breathe,” Richardson recalled. She and her husband performed CPR while waiting for emergency services.