Imagine snagging a ticket to LA’s famous Staples Center for one of the most anticipated entertainment events of the year. Traffic is nauseating, security is tight, paparazzi and news media all around. There are thousands of people congregating eager to get a glimpse of an admired Grammy nominated community leader. Imagine the anticipation of entering the dimly lit arena to find a seat as the illuminated stage adorned with a huge screen, a harp, and thousands of roses and other flowers comes in to view.
Now imagine that same energy and anticipation to attend the funeral of a loved one. So much energy for one last glimpse. This was the feeling in LA today as over twenty thousand fans, friends, fellow rappers, actors, and community leaders, and of course family members gathered at the Staples Center to celebrate the life of rapper, entrepreneur, community activist, friend, lover, father, son – Nipsey Hussle, or Ermias Asghedom as named by his parents. Not before or since the untimely death of Michael Jackson in 2009 has the Staples Center, home of the LA Lakers and the Grammy’s, hosted such an event.
The three-hour service was the final public outpouring of love from a family heartbroken over the tragic loss of their brightest star. It started with a photo montage of Nipsey in touching moments with friends, family, and the community set to Frank Sinatra’s My Way. Born on August 15, 1985, Nipsey passed at the young age of 33, but his life touched his community in ways that more than doubled his years. He was celebrated through musical tributes from Marsha Ambrosius, Anthony Hamilton, Jhene Aiko, and the ever so masterful Stevie Wonder, who stated the world is becoming blind because gun laws have yet to change. Nipsey lost his life to gun violence outside of his clothing store, The Marathon, in LA on March 31st.
Nipsey’s life was further memorialized with speeches from the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, Snoop Dog, and several members of his family taking the stage to pay homage to a life that was well lived with purpose. Karen Civil read a letter from Barak Obama, the 44thPresident of the United States. And there were emotional moments from Lauren London, his long-term girlfriend, who read a loving text she sent to him in January reminding people to demonstrate love to loved ones while they are living. There were audible sobs from Sammy Asghedom, his brother, as he spoke candidly on how the life of his younger brother inspired his own way of living. He spoke directly to his brother by quoting the Nipsey lyric “if I die today I know I made the set proud”, to let Nipsey know that he made the world proud.