Former U.S. president Barack Obama wrote a heartfelt letter to Nipsey Hussle’s loved ones.
The letter from Obama said he had never met the rapper, but had “heard his music through my daughters” and he later learned about Hussle’s transformation and efforts to transform his South Los Angeles community.
He praised Hussle’s vision, saying the rapper and community activist saw potential and hope in the Crenshaw neighborhood he grew up in and that lured him into a gang as a young man. Obama’s letter states that Hussle “saw a community that even through its flaws taught him to always keep going.”
The letter states Hussle’s legacy is worth celebrating and Obama says he hopes Hussle’s efforts inspire “more good work in Crenshaw and communities like it.”
The memorial service began with a reading from scripture and a slideshow of photos set to Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” Pastor Reid Rich linked the rapper to the biblical figure Joseph before the photo montage started.
The service has drawn thousands to the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles and is being livestreamed by BET and others. The ceremony will feature performances by Stevie Wonder, Jhene Aiko and singer-songwriter Anthony Hamilton.
It will be followed by a 25-mile procession of Hussle’s casket throughout the city, including the South Los Angeles neighborhood where Hussle grew up and was trying to improve, with his clothing store The Marathon an anchor of his redevelopment efforts.
Read the letter for yourself below.