Los Angeles lost a legend when Nipsey Hussle, real name Ermias Joseph Asghedom, tragically passed away on March 31 following a shooting outside his Marathon Clothing store. When the news broke, countless members of the hip-hop community shared their condolences and celebrated his legacy. Hundreds of fans gathered outside Marathon, and the appreciation his city had for him was made clear.
Thousands of fans and friends have now come together to pay their respects to Nip at the Staples Center for what's sure to be an emotional memorial service. Approximately 21,000 people will be arriving at the venue. The free tickets were all claimed minutes after they made available, but thankfully fans not able to attend will be able to livestream the service through TIDAL beginning at 1 p.m. ET. Watch the celebration of Nipsey's life above.
Among those set to attend include close friends and collaborators G-Eazy, Big Sean, Meek Mill, and Big Boy. YG and DJ Mustard are listed as honorary pallbearers. James Harden, Russell Westbrook and DeMar DeRozan are also in attendance. The service at Staples Center follows a private service that took place on Wednesday, April 10. Snoop Dogg, Stevie Wonder, and Jhené Aiko among others will pay tribute to him.
As revealed by those in attendance at the service, the funeral program includes a message from JAY-Z. "The world just got to see a flash of your brilliance," Jay wrote of Nip. "You were a curious soul who was evolving at a speed that was truly inspiring. The seeds you have planted are already bearing fruit. The outpouring of admiration is testimony to the love and respected you've farmed. Sleep well king, The Marathon continues as a line of energy for all of us to consider. Love and light, Jay."
Former President of the United States Barack Obama also wrote a letter addressed to the friends and family of Nipsey. "I'd never met Nipsey Hussle, but I'd heard some of his music through my daughters, and after his passing, I had the chance to learn more about his transformation and his community work," he wrote in a touching letter.
"While most folks look at the Crenshaw neighborhood where he grew up and see only gangs, bullets, and despair, Nipsey saw potential. He saw hope," he continued, showing his appreciation for all the work Nip put into his community. "His choice to invest in that community rather than ignore it–to build a skills training center and a coworking space in Crehsaw; to lift up the Eritrean-American community; to set an example for young people to follow–is a legacy worthy of celebration. I hope his memory inspired more good work in Crenshaw and communities like it."
He signed off the later from him and Michelle, offering their sympathies to "all who loved Nipsey." Read the letter in full below.
Jay was also in attendance at the service with Beyoncé.
His longtime girlfriend, Lauren London, took to the stage with Hussle's 7-year-old daughter Emani Asghedom and London's 9-year-old son Cameron Carter. "On the night of April 2 I had a dream I was in paradise and I was playing in ocean water [when behind me] I saw Ermias... He said, 'Whaddup killa?' Cuz that's my nickname to him," Cameron explained. "I told my mom about the dream and after I told her I was thinking about it and I realized that Ermias told me what heaven was like. He told me it was paradise."
Nipsey previously rapped on "Ocean Views" about having a Stevie Wonder when he died, and now Wonder is playing at his funeral. "When I die, Blue rag around my rifle," he rapped. "Hunnid thousand in my coffin, that's just life though / Play a Stevie Wonder song, smoke some flight, bro."
His mother, Angelique Smith, paid tribute to her son in a touching eulogy. "I know that we are all divine creatures. We are all divinity within. We don't need to look to the sky for God; God is within us," Smith said. "I have perfect peace. I'm happy. I am complete. I am strong. And if I can feel this way, so can you." During a few moments she struggled to keep herself together, ut when she wrapped it up she received a standing ovation.
Afterwards his brother Samuel arrived on stage with a shaky voice. "I hope that he knows we all proud of him," Samuel explained. "'I could die today I've made the set proud, n***a,'" he quoted Nip, referencing his song "I Don't Stress" to a huge applause. "You made the world proud, look at this shit, bro. ... The whole family appreciates everything. I hope he knows how much I loved him. I know he loved me."
Upon taking to the stage, Lauren London told the audience, "Never was I prepared for anything like this." She continued, "I had to write something because I've never felt this type of pain before. His soul was majestic. He was the strongest man that I ever knew. He was brilliant. He researched everything; completely self-taught and always seeking knowledge."
Speaking about their son Kross together, she said, "My pain is for my 2-year-old, who probably won't remember how much his dad loved him. [...] I'm so honored and blessed that I got to experience such a man." London said that "everything is hurting," but she was trying to remain strong for the community Nipsey loved.
"This pain is really ours," she said. "We know what Nip meant to us. We lost an incredible soul. We lost a real one. We won't ever be the same. But in Hussle's words, 'The game is going to test you, never fold.' What's in you, they can't take away, and he's in all of us."
His father Dawit Asghedom also spoke about how he wants his son to be remembered. "At 33 years old he accomplished more than what [anyone can] accomplish," he said. "We have to keep his legacy and the peace he brought. We have to follow what he would want us to continue."
Samantha Smith, Nip's sister, said that the rapper "always encouraged" her throughout his life. "On the way the Grammys [this year] ... I whispered to him, 'The win is in making it to see another day,'" she shared. "And experiencing that moment he said, 'You're right.' And I hope I gave him that peace with that. [...] Nip is immortalized, and now he is greater than ever. I am so proud of my bro."
Snoop Dogg became a close collaborator with Nip throughout his career as a rapper, and during an emotional speech he spoke about how the two of them connected. "I still remember when he pushed up on me with his tape," he told the crowd. "Nipsey's line was, 'Hey homie, listen to my music. Just give it a listen.' [I said], 'That's it? No record deal?' To me he had vision." He also recalled rolling a blunt on one of the CDs that he gave Snoop.
"We ended up making music together, we created a brotherhood, a bond, something special," he added. "One thing me and Nip had [in common] was a kind spirit. A spirit of love. When we met each other it was like a magnet coming together." Addressing how people compared the two early on, Snoop joked it was because they were both "lanky." "For God so loved the world that he gave us a good Crip, the late great neighborhood Nip," Snoop continued. "Rest in peace cuz."
Following Snoop, YG and DJ Mustard paid their respects to their close friend. "That's my brother from the other color," YG said of Nip, who was in a Crip while YG famously reps Bloods. "He was like a real big brother to me."
Stevie Wonder performed two of Nipsey's favorite songs at the service.
A basketball court in Los Angeles has received a makeover to highlight Nip's love for the sport and his community.
For fans who wish to send flowers to Nipsey's gravesite, The Blast reports that arrangements can be purchased through the in-house flower shop at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Hollywood Hills. Flowers are the only items that can be placed on the grave, meaning that those thinking of sending CDs, photos, or other mementos will not be able to do so. Nipsey's family has yet to disclose whether they will be revealing his exact resting place to the public.
In the week following his untimely passing, Nipsey's debut album Victory Lap returned to the Billboard 200 at No. 2, besting its previous peak at No. 4 in 2018.