Lil Scrappy Hospitalized in Atlanta -- 'I Damn Near Died'

4/19/2012 12:20 AM PDT

Rap star Lil' Scrappy -- who's worked with Lil Jon, 50 Cent, Three 6 Mafia and more -- was hospitalized in Atlanta yesterday after suffering a nasty asthma attack ... TMZ has learned.

Scrappy tells us ... "I damn near died ... if it weren’t for my driver, mom, and rap artist I would have been dead."

The 28-year-old says he had been drinking pretty hard Monday night ... and when he woke up Tuesday morning, he could barely breath and couldn't talk -- "I felt like I was dying."

Fortunately, Scrappy's people rushed him to Emory University Hospital ... where he was treated and released. Scrappy says he now owns a "breathing machine" and tells us, "I will never leave anywhere without it again."