RALEIGH, NC — Lynette Hardaway, a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump whose death had sparked widespread speculation as to its cause, died earlier this month of a heart condition, according to a death certificate obtained Monday by The Associated Press.
Known by the stage name “Diamond” of conservative political commentator duo Diamond and Silk, Hardaway, 51, died on Jan. 8 of a heart condition caused by chronic high blood pressure.
Hardaway and her sister, Rochelle “Silk” Richardson, rose to internet fame as black women who passionately supported Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign. After several campaign appearances with the former president, the two used their fame to land regular commentating roles on Fox News. Their promotion of fake coronavirus eventually got them dropped, but they ended up with far-right cable and digital media platform Newsmax.
Hardaway’s cause of death, which was not released by the family, had become the subject of widespread speculation. A flurry of social media users suggested that Covid-19 was to blame.
Many of the posts were based on an unsourced 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 taken Hardaway to the hospital.
Covid-19 was not listed as a cause or contributing factor on her death certificate, which was submitted to the AP by the Hoke County Register of Deeds and signed by a local doctor. No autopsy was performed.
A memorial ceremony held in Fayetteville, North Carolina and streamed online on Saturday renewed speculation when Richardson suggested her sister’s death was somehow linked to the Covid-19 vaccine. She hinted that Hardaway may have been “poisoned” by another vaccinee, reinforcing the misconception that the recipients can affect those around them.
At the memorial, Richardson mentioned people who “died suddenly,” a reference that has become shorthand among some anti-vaccine activists for deaths they say were caused by Covid-19 gunshots, despite studies show that the vaccines are safe and effective.
Richardson, who was joined by Trump on the memorial’s stage, said her sister died after returning to her home in North Carolina from a relative’s birthday party. Richardson noticed that her sister looked odd, and Hardaway suddenly said, “I can’t breathe,” Richardson recalled. She and her husband performed CPR while waiting for emergency services to arrive.