The Most Touching Moments from Nipsey Hussle's Memorial Service
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Fans, friends and family of Nipsey Hussle packed the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Thursday for a memorial service honoring the late rapper, who was gunned down outside of his clothing store in March 31.
Attendees began gathering to pay respects to the artist born Ermias Joseph Asghedom on Thursday morning, hours before the Celebration of Life was due to begin at 10 a.m. local time.
Here are the most emotional moments from the heart wrenching ceremony.
Lauren London Shares Her Final Farewells
Lauren London, the rapper’s longtime love, began her tearful eulogy with a text message she wrote on Jan. 21.
“Ermias was asleep one morning and I was watching him because I used to love to watch him sleep and I wrote him a text while he was sleeping so when he woke up he would read it,” said London, who also shared a copy of the text message in the funeral’s pamphlet.
“I want you to know I feel real joy in my heart when I’m around you. I feel safe around you. Protected. Like a shield over me when you’re around, I am totally myself when I’m with you,” London, 34, had written. “You’re still the coolest guy in the world to me. Still! I love you so much. Unconditionally. My truth is this. I’m never going to give up on you. My loyalty and devotion is to you.”
After reading the text message, London told the crowd, “I’ve never felt this type of pain before — I know that God is alive but bear with me all,” as she read another passageshe had put together for the memorial.
“His soul was majestic. He was the strongest man that I ever knew. A gentle father, a patient leader, a divine light. He was brilliant. He researched everything, completely self-taught, constantly seeking knowledge,” London said.
Speaking of their son Kross, London became emotional at the thought of her child growing up without his father.
“My pain is from a 2-year-old that probably won’t remember how much his dad loved him,” she said. “This is something that I don’t really understand but I know Ermias always used to say that you can’t possess people; that you experience them. I’m so honored and blessed to experience such a man.”
London concluded her speech with one of Hussle’s most well-known phrases. “In Hussle words, because he always used to say this: The game is going to test you but never fold, stay 10 toes down. It’s not on you, it’s in you and what’s in you they can’t take away. He’s in all of us,” she said.
“To Ermias, the love of my life. You know what it is. Grief is the final act of love. My heart hears you, I feel you everywhere. I’m so grateful that I had you. I love you beyond this Earth. Until we meet again, the Marathon continues,” London shared.
The Children Say Goodbye
At the memorial, London also accompanied their their children, as well as the rapper’s younger relatives, onstage.
In addition to London and Hussle’s 2-year-old son Kross Asgehdom, the rapper’s late girlfriend was joined by Hussle’s daughter from a previous relationship, Emani Asghedom, her son Cameron Carter, and Hussle’s nephew Khalil Kimble.
“On the night of April 2, I had a dream. I was in a paradise and I was playing in the ocean water when Ermias popped up right behind me. He said, ‘What up killa,’ ‘cuz that’s my nickname to him. I turned around and I yelled his name and gave him a hug. Shortly he was gone but it was still cool I guess,” he said.
“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,” Cameron continued before leading the crowd to all say, “Respect,” out loud.
Following his big brother, the couple’s 2-year-old Kross adorably took the mic and murmured into it as the crowd responded with cheers. London spoke briefly, telling the crowd: “Give the kids some love, they’re a little nervous.”
Nipsey Hussle‘s mother Angelique Smith spoke at length about the love and connection she had with her late son.
Taking the podium, Smith held back tears as she shared that she had sensed something bad was going to happen in the weeks leading up to the moment when she found out her son had been shot.
“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 went on to urge the rapper’s fans and members of her community to embrace peace, and an overall healthy way of living.
“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.”
JAY-Z Pays His Respects
The hip-hop mogul, 49, shared a tribute to Hussle in the program of A Celebration of Life for Hussle.
“‘Top of the top,’ this is how Nip always greeted me in the morning as if he was reminding me that he was steadfastly holding on to the top of the top of his own life string and destiny!” JAY-Z wrote in the program, obtained by Complex.
“So, Top of the top – Nip,” said JAY-Z of Hussle, who worked closely with Hov’s record label Roc Nation and was a close friend.
“The world just got to see a flash of your brilliance. You were a curious soul who was evolving at a speed that was truly inspiring. The seeds you have planted are already bearing fruit,” he continued.
“The outpouring of admiration is testimony to the love and respect you’ve farmed. Sleep well King. The Marathon continues as a line of energy for all of us to consider. LOVE AND LIGHT JAY,” JAY-Z concluded.
The two rappers connected back in 2013, when Hussle released his independent album Crenshaw, selling the CDs for $100 a piece. Hearing of the entrepreneurial rapper’s new project, JAY-Z reached out and arranged to purchase 100 copies of the disc for $10,000.
A Life’s Wish Fulfilled
In a touching moment, Stevie Wonder took to the stage during the memorial, fulfilling one of the late rapper’s wishes in the process.
“I had the pleasure through someone I was very close to … who arranged a meeting for myself to have a meeting with him for us to talk,” the singer said of meeting the rapper. “It is a heartbreak to again lose a member of our family. It is a heartbreak because it’s so unnecessary.”
Wonder went on to call for gun control. “We, to be a civilized nation, civilized world, we still are living in a time where ego, anger, jealousy is controlling our lives. It is so painful to know that we don’t have enough people taking a position that says: ‘Listen, we must have stronger gun laws. It’s unacceptable.’”
“It’s almost like the world is becoming blind. … I pray that we grow; I pray that the leaders who have a responsibility to perpetuate life will do it by making sure that the laws will make it so very hard for people to have guns and to take their frustrations out,” he added.
Wonder then sang “Rocket Love” in addition to Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven,” which he ended by saying: “Love you, Nipsey. God bless you.”
Just before the ceremony began, The Blast broke the news that Wonder would be singing. The performance fulfilled Hussle’s longtime wish, which he outlined in his 2016 track “Ocean Views.”
“Then when I die, blue rag around my rifle/ Hunnid thousand in my coffin, that’s just light dough,” he rapped on the song. “Play a Stevie Wonder song, smoke some flight bro/ Crack a pint of Act then pour in some Sprite bro.”
Hussle, 33, died from gunshot wounds of both the head and torso on March 31, the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner confirmed. “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.
Hussle is survived by his two children: daughter Emani from a previous relationship and son Kross with London.
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. Holder could face a maximum sentence of life in state prison if convicted.
Holder has hired attorney Chris Darden, who famously was part of the prosecution team in O.J. Simpson’s murder trial, according to CBSLA.