Angelique Smith, mother of slain rapper Nipsey Hussle, held back tears as she spoke about her son who died on March 31

By Janine Rubenstein
April 11, 2019 05:50 PM

Nipsey Hussle‘s mother Angelique Smith spoke at length about the love and connection she had with her late son.

Taking the podium at the Staples Center during the slain rapper’s public memorial on Thursday, Smith held back tears as she opened up about her son, their years together and her hope for the South Los Angeles community he left behind.

“I have perfect peace. I am happy. I am complete. I am strong. And if I can feel this way, you can, too,” she told the thousands of mourners. After calling Hussle’s father Dawit Asghedom to the stage, she talked of finding comfort and guidance in her spirituality.

“We call on the energies who guide and protect us as we make our way in life. We call on our ancestors to join us at this service,” she said, before naming deceased family members. “I would ask that all of our ancestors guide and protect us.”

RELATED: Nipsey Hussle Honored by Thousands at Staples Center Memorial Before Being Laid to Rest in L.A.

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Smith went on to recount how she learned her son had been shot on March 31. She shared that she had sensed something bad was going to happen in the weeks leading up to the moment. “I had not slept for two weeks leading up to this event on Sunday. When I went there I was not at perfect peace,” she recalls of turning up at Hussle’s Marathon Clothing store that day. Hearing from police that he’d been shot: “My spirit said ‘Oh, that’s it.’”

The grieving mother shared details of her own life, including that she’d survived a rough childhood and was also abused during her marriage prior to raising her sons as a single mother in the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles. “I didn’t have an easy life,” she said. Smith urged the rapper’s fans and members of her community to embrace peace, and an overall healthy way of living.

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“I want to encourage you to choose a vegan lifestyle. I want to encourage you to let [go of] your use of alcoholic beverages and narcotic substances. I want to tell you that we come from royalty and regality. I want to tell you that we are very loving and kind and a spiritual race of people. I want to tell you that we are very traumatized and pressurized people.”

RELATED: Snoop Dogg Says He and Nipsey Hussle Shared a ‘Spirit of Love’ Despite Their Gang Backgrounds

“We have to be the light of change that we want in the world,” Smith said, adding that her son had done just that. “I’m very proud of my son,” she said, becoming emotional. “My son, Ermias Joseph Asghedom, was a great man.”

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RELATED: Stevie Wonder Honors Nipsey Hussle, Calls for Gun Control at Memorial: ‘It Is a Heartbreak’

Hussle’s girlfriend Lauren London, rapper Snoop Dogg and Stevie Wonder were among many others who spoke during the 3-hour service. The Obamas sent a letter of condolence that was read to the crowd and friend JAY-Z shared words of encouragement in the program that was shared with attendees.

RELATED VIDEO: Lauren London’s Son, Cameron Carter, Remembers Nipsey Hussle At Memorial Service

Hussle died from gunshot wounds of both the head and torso, the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner confirmed last Monday. “Paramedics were called and [Hussle who was born Ermias Joseph Asghedom] was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m.,” the coroner said, in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.

Eric Holder, 29, has since been charged with one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon, according to a release from the Los Angeles County’s District Attorney’s Office.

On April 4, he entered a plea of not guilty in court. The aspiring rapper could face a maximum sentence of life in state prison if convicted.