Nipsey Hussle, the Grammy-nominated rapper, was remembered by a lineup of celebrities and respected figures at a funeral service on Thursday. Among them: the 44th president of the United States.
In a letter read to mourners who had filled the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, President Barack Obama praised Hussle, 33, for overcoming the circumstances of his youth and becoming an advocate for South Los Angeles.
“While most folks look at the Crenshaw neighborhood where he grew up and see only gangs, bullets and despair, Nipsey saw potential,” Mr. Obama said in the letter, read aloud by the hip-hop media personality Karen Civil.
“He saw hope,” the letter continued. “He saw a community that, even through its flaws, taught him to always keep going.”
Hussle, born Ermias Joseph Asghedom, was fatally shot outside his clothing store on March 31. Within days, the authorities arrested Eric R. Holder Jr., 29, the man suspected of shooting him. Mr. Holder has pleaded not guilty to the murder.
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In the letter, Mr. Obama said that he had learned about Hussle’s “transformation and his community work” after being introduced to the rapper’s music by his daughters, Sasha and Malia.
Mr. Obama also praised him for giving back to his community, which Hussle did, in part, by opening the Marathon Clothing store and a co-working space in Crenshaw dedicated to increasing diversity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Hussle “set an example for young people to follow,” Mr. Obama said, adding that his “is a legacy worthy of celebration.”
“I hope his memory inspires more good work in Crenshaw and communities like it,” Mr. Obama said.
Later in the service, Hussle’s family and friends shared memories of his love, curiosity, passion and drive.
“He had such beautiful energy,” said his mother, Angelique Smith. “He’s intelligent, he’s radiant, he’s a superhero.”
Ms. Smith also shared memories from Hussle’s childhood, relaying how he sprang to action when her car caught fire and fondly recalling his love of amusement park rides.
Hussle’s brother, Samiel, remembered watching with amazement as Hussle built a computer when they were kids, and later started a music career and amassed friends left and right.
Hussle’s partner, the actress Lauren London, described him as a “majestic” soul.
“He was the strongest man that I ever knew, a gentle father, a patient leader, a divine light,” she said.
The free tickets to the service, hosted in the 21,000-seat arena, were claimed online within minutes of being released earlier this week.
The service began with Hussle’s own songs “Right Hand to God” and “Victory Lap,” the title track from his most recent album and major-label debut.
Others who paid tribute to Hussle included Stevie Wonder, Snoop Dogg, and Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam.
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