Thousands of fans lined the streets of Los Angeles to say goodbye to rapper Nipsey Hussle following his memorial at the Staples Center.
LOS ANGELES — Nipsey Hussle‘s Celebration of Life, attended by thousands Thursday, featured tributes from some of the world’s biggest names.
Former President Barrack Obama penned a heartfelt letter, which was read from the stage; Snoop Dog held back emotion speaking of the fellow rapper; Stevie Wonder sang.
But it took Hussle’s heartbroken brother and best friend Samiel Asghedom to truly show the depth of pain and loss since the Grammy-nominated rapper was shot and killed March 31.
“You made the world proud,” said Asghedom from the stage at the Staples Center, feet away from his younger brother’s flower-covered coffin.
Three years older than Hussle, Asghedom was so clearly heartbroken that there was a question of whether he could deliver the entire speech. Asghedom gripped the microphone tightly in his right hand and stared downward, his voice often cracking in emotion. But his long silences were all the more powerful as Asghedom conveyed he was still dealing with the senseless shooting death and hoped something good could come from the tragedy.
“It changed everything I thought I understood,” he said. “Gotta be something past this for bro to go out like that.”
Asghedom’s stories Thursday were priceless and profound, relating how Hussle , at 12, started bringing home computer parts and laying them out on their shared bedroom floor. At first the older brother scoffed at the idea of building a computer. But Hussle persevered.
Before he knew it, “I could not believe this, he had built a computer,” Asghedom said. “And it was working. I was amazed. It was mind-boggling.”
There were tales of toughness, as Asghedom related being knocked out cold in a fight with neighborhood bullies, and came to consciousness to see Hussle in battle. “Bro held it down while I was out, for sure,” he said.
But it was the story of a brilliant, magnetic businessman who gave back to his community that fully emerged. Asghedom highlighted Hussle’s Marathon Clothing line, set up in the same strip mall where the aspiring performer used to sell his CDs. The corner of Slauson and Crenshaw, where the store stands, is now hallowed ground and a powerful symbol.
Asghedom also said the two used to talk about death.
“We don’t know if we’re going to go at 80, 60, 30. Or 20,” he recalled, his voice finding power. “The one thing is that when you go, you go the right way. You stand up for what you believe in. You put your money where your mouth is. And you never fold. Never let the pressure sway you from doing what you want to do. Never let the politics stop you from coming around and staying around. And I hope everyone knows that’s what bro did. Bro stayed and he died on Crenshaw and Slauson.”
Before he left the stage, Asghedom said, “I love him. And I hope I didn’t leave anything out man.”
The roaring crowd made it clear he had not.
Attendee Simoneau Wagner, 31, who brought her two sons Jeremiah, 9, and JaCoreyon, 7, told USA TODAY the words and the bond of brotherly love moved her.
“It was inspiring. They had each other and they built on that and made it blossom into something amazing,” Wagner said. ” It touched my sons too, because they’re also close in age, share rooms, fight and play like they did. The relationship (Asghedom and Hussle) had is what I want my sons to have.”
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