In a condolence letter read aloud at Nipsey Hussle’s memorial service Thursday, Barack Obama said that Hussle left “a legacy worthy of celebration” and one that he hopes “inspires more good work in Crenshaw and communities like it.”
Karen Civil, a longtime friend of Hussle, shared a letter that she says was sent by former President Obama on Thursday morning ahead of the public memorial service taking place in the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.
“While most folks look at the Crenshaw neighborhood where he grew up and only see gangs, bullets and despair, he saw potential,” Obama wrote, as read by Civil. “He saw hope. He saw a community that even through its flaws taught him to always keep going.”
The memorial service, called “Celebration of Life & Legacy of Nipsey Hussle,” is taking place Thursday to pay tribute to slain rapper Hussle, who was murdered late last month outside of his clothing store. Hussle, born Ermias Asghedom, was 33 years old.
The service has featured a speech by Louis Farrakhan and performances by Anthony Hamilton and Marsha Ambrosius. Rapper Snoop Dogg is also among those expected to pay tribute.
Hussle’s death rocked South Los Angeles, where the rapper not only grew up but continued to play a key role in the community after he’d gained fame. Earlier this week, L.A. City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson announced the intersection of Crenshaw Blvd. and West Slauson Ave. will be named Ermias “Nipsey Hussle” Asghedom Square in his honor. Hussle’s death was also a blow to many sports and entertainment stars who had either grown close to the rapper or admired his work, with Lakers star LeBron James saying “this one hurts big time” on Instagram.
Suspected gunman Eric Holder was arrested and charged last week with Hussle’s murder. He was also charged for the attempted killing of two other men outside the clothing store. Holder has entered a not guilty plea.
Read the full text of Obama’s letter below:
I’ve never met Nipsey but I’ve heard his music through my daughters, and after his passing, I had the chance to learn more about his transformation and his community work.
While most folks look at the Crenshaw neighborhood where he grew up and only see gangs, bullets and despair, he saw potential. He saw hope. He saw a community that even through its flaws fought him to always keep going.
His choice to invest in that community rather than to ignore it, to build a skills training center, a co-working space in Crenshaw, to lift up the Eritrean-American community.
He set an example for young people to follow and is a legacy worthy of celebration. I hope his memory inspires more good work in Crenshaw and communities like it.
Michelle and I send our sympathies to Lauren, Emani, Kross and to his whole family, and to all those who loved Nipsey.
Sincerely, Barack Obama