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Thousands Gather In LA For Nipsey Hussle's Memorial Service And Procession


Roughly 20,000 people packed the Staples Center in Los Angeles today to honor the life of Nipsey Hussle. The 33-year-old musician and community activist was shot and killed 11 days ago right outside the clothing store he owned. NPR's Mandalit del Barco is with us from the Staples Center. Hey.


CHANG: So this memorial service - I know it's ended. And I understand it's followed by a procession.

DEL BARCO: That's right. I'm outside the Staples Center. It was a three-hour memorial, sold out. And imagine 20,000 people making noise for Nipsey Hussle.

CHANG: Yeah.

DEL BARCO: And the procession is winding through the streets of South LA for 25 miles through...


DEL BARCO: ...The Crenshaw neighborhood past the Marathon clothing store he owned and where he was shot and killed. And it ends up at a funeral home.

CHANG: Now, I know his family and his friends spoke during the service, and they shared a lot about what kind of person Nipsey Hussle was. How did they remember him?

DEL BARCO: Well, you know, the memorial started with reading a letter from President Barack Obama, who praised him as a symbol of hope. There was a eulogy from the Nation of Islam minister Louis Farrakhan and a performance by Stevie Wonder, who called for gun control and an end to violence. His parents were here to honor him, and others talked about how much he helped the community he came from. Here's his girlfriend Lauren London, her 9-year-old son Cameron Carter and Nipsey's brother Samuel Asghedom.


LAUREN LONDON: I love you beyond this Earth. And until we meet again, the marathon continues.


CAMERON CARTER: In the morning, Ermias would say respect at the window. So on my count of three, I want everybody to yell respect. Three, two, one...


SAMIEL ASGHEDOM: Never let the pressure sway you from doing what you want to do. You never let anything - the politics - stop you from coming around and staying around. And I hope everybody knows that that's what bro did. Bro stayed, and he died on Crenshaw and Slauson.

DEL BARCO: Another well-known rapper from LA, Snoop Dogg, was also here to eulogize his friend.


SNOOP DOGG: The late, great neighborhood Nip - rest in peace, cuz - Nipsey.

DEL BARCO: Snoop Dogg saluted Nipsey, and he also threw him gang signs to his coffin. The memorial's program had remarks by Kendrick Lamar, Issa Rae, Michael B. Jordan and LeBron James.

CHANG: So for our listeners who don't know a lot about Nipsey Hussle, can you just remind us? Why was he so beloved in Los Angeles and elsewhere?

DEL BARCO: Well, you know, his real name was Ermias Asghedom. He was 33 years old. He never left his neighborhood. And after running the streets with the Rollin' 60s, which is a set of the Crips, he made a career starting with mixed tapes. And he got so big that his album "Victory Lap" was nominated for a Grammy.

But he was also known as an entrepreneur. He had a brand - the Marathon brand - a clothing store, a studio. He also was a community activist. One of the things he did was renovate a basketball court at an elementary school. And he had an art project called Destination Crenshaw. He was really well-known in the neighborhood and worldwide.

CHANG: Looking back on the whole day, were there any other highlights that stayed with you?

DEL BARCO: There were a lot of highlights. But I think maybe one of them - why don't we just go out with Stevie Wonder?


STEVIE WONDER: (Singing) Would you know my name if I saw you in heaven?

CHANG: That is Mandalit del Barco reporting from Los Angeles, Calif. Thanks, Mandalit.

DEL BARCO: Thanks, Ailsa.


WONDER: (Singing) I must be strong. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.