Jacob Leger Photo courtesy of his family

The death of Jacob Leger on Monday has shaken Portland’s 12-step recovery community as well as the city’s restaurant and music industries, in which Leger was a fixture for two decades.

Leger’s body was discovered Monday by Portland police at 11:30 a.m. on Read Street. He was 38.

The cause of death is still unknown, though his family believes alcohol may have been a factor. The state Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an autopsy.

It’s not the first tragedy for the Leger family. Three years ago, Leger’s sister Heather Leger died as a direct result of alcoholism at age 39.

“I want to open people’s eyes about how poisonous this disease it,” said his brother, Daniel Leger. “This has really ruined our family. I just don’t want anyone else to go through this. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Jacob was such a good man. When he wasn’t drinking, he was the best person you could ever imagine.”

Leger, of Portland, was remembered by family and friends this week as kind and considerate, with gentle eyes and a booming voice.

Leger grew up in Dover-Foxcroft and graduated from Foxcroft Academy in 1999, where he was known for his free-style lyrics and musical abilities. He joined the popular hip-hop group Labseven in 1997.

By 2002, the band had emerged on Portland’s music scene. Labseven supported KRS-one, Talib Kweli, Jedi Mind Tricks, Ghostface, Immortal Technique, Rakim and other acts, according to Leger’s obituary. From 2006 to 2012, the group released four studio albums. Leger also played in the heavy metal band Claymore Minds.

Daniel Leger, also of Portland, choked up Thursday talking about his brother’s accomplishments and musical talent. He said his brother would play his guitar until his fingers bled.

“Jacob could pull a song out of thin air and play. He could play anything on the guitar,” his brother said. “He was a genuine artist. He was a poet. He could get a beat dropped and freestyle and go non-stop.”

Leger was well-known in the city’s restaurant scene. He was a cook at several restaurants including Ruski’s Tavern, Binga’s Stadium, Congress Bar and Grill and Taco Escobarr.

“He was a good cook,” his brother said. “I’d eat something off the floor that he made. He was a really talented.”

Daniel Leger spoke cautiously Thursday about his brother’s longtime struggle with alcoholism since age 15. He chose to focus on good memories, like fishing with his brother and father in Dover-Foxcroft.

“We spent a lot of time in the canoe just fishing, talking and bonding,” he said. “When he was sober, he was such a thoughtful man. He was really like a golden soul.”

Leger spent the past three years in and out of rehabilitation and detox centers and was well-known in Portland’s recovery community. His brother said he attended 12-step meetings and had many friends in recovery. He said Leger had reached one year of sobriety, but relapsed days later.

“He would take five steps forward and 10 steps back,” his brother said. “The disease really affected his life. It affected all of our lives. His sobriety was important to him, but unfortunately, the alcohol won.”

This week, people in Portland’s recovery community expressed shock and sadness over Leger’s death. Hundreds of people shared thoughts and memories of Leger on Facebook.

One Facebook post said he was a “lovable human.” Another said he “was true Portland legend. He led with his heart and felt everything.” Another said he was “one of the most influential and spirited souls to ever grace the Portland scene.”

Friends posted photos and videos, including one of Leger wearing an Iron Maiden t-shirt belting out Celine Dion’s “My heart Will Go On.”

For more information on recovery programs, call 774-4335 or go to csoaamaine.org.

A celebration of Leger’s life will be held at 3 p.m. Monday at Woodfords Congregational Church, 202 Woodford St. in  Portland.

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