Friends, family and fans gather in Los Angeles as blogger reads letter from Barack Obama to crowd
Nipsey Hussles legacy as a persistent rapper, community activist, uniter, a doting father, a protective sibling and a loving son were underscored at his public memorial service on Thursday, with deeply personal testimonies from those closest to the rapper, including his fiancee, Lauren London; collaborator and dear friend Snoop Dogg; and his mother, who said she was at peace with the death of her superhero son.
Beyonce and Jay-Z were among the celebrities who attended the three-hour event in Los Angeles at the Staples Center, where the last celebrity funeral held at the concert arena was Michael Jacksons in 2009.
The arena was packed with more than 21,000 fans and drove home the important impact Hussle, who was just 33 when he died, had on his city and the rest of the world.
My son Ermias Joseph Asghedom was a great man, said Angelique Smith, dressed in all white. Standing onstage with Hussles father, Dawit Asghedom, she declared: Ermias was a legacy.
London, in dark sunglasses, was emotional but stood strong onstage as she told the audience: Ive never felt this type of pain before.
London called Hussle majestic and brilliant and said she had learned so much from his presence. She added though she was hurting, she was really sad for their son, Kross, whom she feared wouldnt remember his dad: My pain is for my two-year-old.
A blogger, Karen Civil, read a letter from Barack Obama. Ive never met Nipsey, but Ive heard his music through my daughters, and after his passing I had the chance to learn more about his transformation and his community work, the former president wrote. While most folks look at the Crenshaw neighborhood where he grew up and only see gangs, bullets and despair, Nipsey saw potential. He saw hope.
Snoop Doggs words to immortalize his friend were both serious and silly, as he told old stories about Hussle and their brotherhood. This a tough one right here, he said.
Hussles father said he knew his son was strong because when he was born, the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck but he prevailed. He was a fighter, he said.
Stevie Wonder was the last performer to pay tribute to Hussle, who he said he had the chance to meet. Before he sang his song Rocket Song, one of Hussles favorites, Wonder denounced gun violence and told the audience: Theres enough people being killed by guns and violence.
A DJ called the event a celebration, and indeed, Hussles mother danced in the aisle in tribute to her son as the R&B singer Marsha Ambrosius sang the Mariah Carey song Fly Like a Bird while fighting back tears.
A montage of photos featuring the rapper from infancy, childhood and adulthood, with fellow rappers, his family and his fiancee, the actor Lauren London, were shown to the crowd, set to Frank Sinatras song My Way. Singer Anthony Hamilton invoked the spirit of a church service as he performed in Hussles honor. The Nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan, hailed Hussles ability to bring different factions together.
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