Nipsey Hussle memorial: Thousands show up to pay tribute to South L.A. icon
Maile Gilleres called everyone she knew when she heard about the Nipsey Hussle memorial service at the Staples Center.
“Being an L.A. girl, I thought it was really important to come out and honor somebody who was really about change,” she said.
Gilleres and thousands of people gathered at the Staples Center Thursday morning to honor rapper and activist Nipsey Hussle, who was killed March 31 outside his Marathon Clothing store. Tickets for the memorial were free for California residents, but sold out in minutes. Hundreds of fans and mourners gathered outside the Staples Center to pay their respects to Nipsey Hussle.
Born Ermias Asghedom, Nipsey Hussle continued to support his hometown of Crenshaw despite the fame that followed his music career. He renovated basketball courts at a local elementary school. He invested in the reopening of Mid-City’s World on Wheels, a safe haven for L.A. kids and teenagers to rollerskate and dance on the weekends. In a recent GQ interview, Hussle and his partner Lauren London were photographed around iconic Crenshaw locations.
Hussle’s family, including his parents and siblings, spoke at the memorial.
“You made the world proud,” said his brother Samiel Asghedom.
His brother told stories of a young Hussle, who built a computer when he was about 12. Later in his teen years, he began using software to record his music. When he reached success, he was all about giving it back to his community, he said.
“He had so many plans,” he said.
“Bro stayed and he died on Crenshaw and Slauson,” he added.
London, his partner, gave a tearful eulogy. She read a text message she had sent him in January, expressing her love for him. Toward the end, she turned her attention to the audience.
“I know everyone’s hurting but I’d like to say something to my city, Los Angeles. Y’all from L.A. stand up. Because this pain is really ours. We know what it meant to us, we lost an incredible soul. We lost someone very rare to us, we lost a real one,” she said
Outside the Staples Center, Gilleres, who was born and raised in Inglewood, said she was there to pay tribute to his legacy.
“As an L.A. girl, it’s important to be here to honor everything he was about. Nipsey meant change, life-giving, God, everything that this world is lacking.”
Duke Faro, 33, kneeled outside of the Staples Center before the memorial service began.
“I came out to kneel for Nip, and to encourage people to kneel at least 60 seconds or 60 minutes if you can handle it every day,” he said.
Faro was inspired by Hussle’s entrepreneurship.
“For a prolific individual, a pioneer, to die like that, it’s even more motivation to get a lot more shit done before it’s your time.”
Juree Nuhe, 27, came to the memorial from Florida.
“I came out here to get some good vibes. I feel like I have to pay honors,” he said. “He paved the way as far as…changing your life around and doing something positive,” he said.
Kadeejia Williams, 31, went to the memorial to take pictures and to cope with Hussle’s death. “I haven’t really taken any because I’ve been watching everybody,” she said. “I guess I still feel some type of way about it, so it’s good to come and get everything out.”
Lailah Rose, 19, had the name Nipsey braided in her hair. Rose said she felt it important to show up for Hussle.
“I was born and raised listening to Nip,” she said. “That’s family. It’s just showing your respects, showing love. I think this is really going to help everybody just realize that we need to wake the fuck up and just love. It shouldn’t take losing a legend to realize this.”
After the service, a funeral procession was held across South L.A. The procession passed through Vermont Avenue, traveled to Inglewood, and stopped at the Marathon Clothing.
Cal Williams was on Vermont next to the USC campus, waiting for the car carrying Hussle to drive by.
“I’m out here for the love,” he said. “Even this is a situation that was negative, it brought the city together in a way that I’ve never seen before. I’ve seen the Olympics, I’ve seen plenty of events in this area, but I’ve never seen one as impactful as this is. I just love the fact that people are coming together. I hope this last a long time.”
Karen Wang contributed to this story.