Cardinal Valery, the half-brother of late video game streamer Etika, has recently been embroiled in controversy.
Valery created a GoFundMe, sold merchandise, and promoted his brand using the legacy of his half-brother.
Some Redditors and Twitter users have criticized Valery, saying he "won't let his own brother rest."
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Desmond "Etika" Amofah passed away in June 2019 and the Nintendo streamer's community has continued to memorialize him.
Known best for having high energy reactions to "Super Smash Bros." reveals and an uplifting personality, Desmond pulled in a devoted audience through his streams who continue to eulogize and remember him years after his passing. With a mural painted in Brooklyn of his face, common viral hashtags, and thousands raised in charity under his name, it's clear to anyone watching that his fans continue to rally around his "JoyCon Boyz" movement.
But now, a controversy involving Etika's fanbase and his half-brother, Cardinal Valery, has some questioning who has Etika's legacy at heart. Etika's most devoted fans on Reddit and Twitter are accusing Valery of exploiting Etika's brand and death for personal monetary gain.
Valery appeared in Etika's online community in 2020
The conflict started when Valery popped-up in the community devoted to Etika in 2020.
In August 2019, Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controller customizer Alex Blake announced that he would be creating custom shells for the device in honor of Etika. The IndieGoGo project raised $37,000 with $10,000 going to charity.
In a December 2020 video with James Malaty of the "JoyConBoyz" YouTube channel, however, he had been told from Blake that Nintendo had issued a cease and desist because his controllers had the official "JoyCon" branding on the hilt. The video went viral with a wave of anti-Nintendo sentiment.
It was at this point that Valery took to Instagram to criticize Blake, saying he was "using [his] brother's name for profit." Valery went on to say that he would like to be "closer to the Etika community" and that none of these projects had gotten the family's "permission" first. Previously, Desmond's family had little to no contact with those in the streamer space.
"His family is not public," Blake told The Loadout in December. "They're not exactly out advertising who they are or opening up a charity in his honor that I could've donated to.
Blake posted a Twitter thread explaining how the money broke down with receipts and how he didn't make a profit on this run of Joy-Cons. He had to purchase the controllers themselves, buy custom shells, have them properly installed, pay processing fees and them ship them out, which came to around the full amount.
Valery's claim of a faked text-message sewed doubts among critics
After appearing on a December 12 Instagram live stream with Malaty, Valery announced he wanted to start selling Etika merch and live streaming more often. Shortly after, Valery started posting on Instagram about TheCraftroom.biz, a website with an "Etika Collection" that has out of stock options for branded hoodies and shirts. He also announced that he would be streaming himself playing "Super Smash Bros" on Instagram and eventually Twitch.
The Etika community was overwhelmingly welcoming to Valery and his new "9INE" brand at this point, with many believing he had his brother's legacy at heart and that others shouldn't be capitalizing on their family's tragedy. That changed when Valery started to stoke controversy in other areas of internet culture.
On January 8, 2021, Valery claimed on Instagram that a text that had been sent to drama personality Daniel "Keemstar'' Keem from Desmond's mother Sabrina was fake. Keem had interviewed Etika days before his passing and his mother personally reached out to say that Keem "is not responsible for (her) son's passing and should not be held accountable for (her) son's actions."
In the caption, Valery claimed that his "mother has never spoken to this man and that she has never wanted ANY affiliation or any entities or businesses on the internet." The claim gained traction on social media until Desmond's ex-girlfriend Alice Pika, as she goes by on Twitter, refuted that fact and wrote that Sabrina "does not communicate" with Valery.
"That text was very much real," Alice told Insider. "When I reached out to Sabrina after (Desmond) died, I was surprised she responded back to me...But I guess he is embarrassed to admit that to his audience."
According to Alice, she's spoken to Sabrina's godson who "speaks for her" and said they should "let Cardinal cry it out."
Critics began alleging that Valery was taking advantage of Etika's legacy
After the back-and-forth around the text message, the Etika community seemed to go through a shift in their impression of Valery.
They noticed that Valery had created a GoFundMe for an "#EtikaForeverMovement" that asked for money for a "production team for my first youtube and the official merchandise production." Valery has also created merchandise with the "E" Etika logo, posted self-promotion links on Reddit, and continues to post on his story about not "pay(ing) attention to false narratives." He's also posted self-promotion on The EtikaWorldNetwork Reddit, a subreddit that has been left as a memorial to the late streamer. One commentor wrote "his brother isn't carrying his legacy he's using Etika's name for his own gain."
Some of Etika's most hardcore supporters on Twitter and Reddit are now questioning Valery's motives.
Malaty, who Valery previously criticized, wrote in a note that "it is my personal opinion that [Valery] does not have the community's best interests in heart, but only his own." In a post on the EtikaWorldReddit posted four days after giving a timeline on all of the drama, Malaty added, "many people dislike the way [Valery] has directly avoided answering questions about Money, whether or not his whole family agree with what he's doing...All of that, and just his general attitude towards members of the community, has made many people distrustful of him and his intentions."
Other posts and comments on the EtikaWorldReddit seemed to mirror those sentiments. "Sucks that even his own brother can't let him rest," wrote one user. "Unfortunately, this will put an inevitable divide in the community, more than it already has," wrote another.
Some defended Valery, believing that he has Desmond's best interests at heart and want to see him succeed. Kai Ninja, a fan of Desmond's, appeared on a January 17 live stream with Valery to discuss the community feedback. Valery said he only made "$74 dollars from donations" over the past month and that he is "not selling merch."
"What's the panic about, why are ya'll upset?" Kai says. "This man has not even done anything yet, he hasn't dropped a video yet, he hasn't struck anybody down...Before anything gets off the ground, we already have people trying to cancel people." Kai declined to comment for this story.
Figuring out how to best honor a content creator that's no longer around isn't easy. Their content immortalizes them to a fan base that can view that moment in their life through rose-tinted glasses, remembering the joy Etika brought when he got hyped over Mewtwo coming to a fighting game. Trying to monetize that legacy, even as a blood relative, can be complicated.
Valery did not immediately respond to questions sent for comment.
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