BALDWIN HILLS (CBSLA) – To honor one of their own, the Ethiopian and Eritrean community celebrated the life of the man most know as Nipsey Hussle at a vigil in Baldwin Hills Friday night. To dozens gathered, Hussle was their brother, Ermias Asghedom.
“It is a loss for our community, it’s a loss for the entire world,” said the 33-year-old rapper’s friend, Jordan Berhe.
Berhe met Hussle when he was 16. He grew up in the neighborhood where she owned a liquor store. Berhe said Hussle was proud of his Eritrean heritage and saw his vision to succeed and make a change early on.
“By him growing up in that neighborhood, we see a lot of diversity and the gang activity, the poverty, so he didn’t want that to be continued in his generation. He had a dream,” she said.
No one knew of that dream or of Hussle more than his grandmother.
“I never knew there was so much love like I love him. So that’s uplifting that so many people loved and understood him,” Margaret Boutte said.
Hussle’s 88-year-old grandmother help raised raise him and spoke with CBS2/KCAL9 exclusively Friday. She said her broken heart finds comfort seeing how much her grandson touched so many people.
“I hope these young people will get the message and live a better life – live a better life,” Boutte said.
Hussle talked about his grandmother in an interview with CBS2 anchor Pat Harvey before this year’s Grammy Awards.
“I was raised by my mom and grandma. She was real big on keeping a tight family and big on love,” the Grammy-nominated artist said.
Mourners at the Baldwin Hills park said Hussle spread that love to everyone he came in contact with. They spoke of his love, generosity and determination – and they shed tears over their loss.
“Everybody is hurt because he turned his life around, not only for himself, but for those around him,” Berhe said.
Besides opening The Marathon Clothing in 2017, Hussle had recently opened an apartment building for low-income families and a barbershop.
“That’s been important for us to not focus on the negativity, but more about his legacy and what he did and continue his work in the marathon, as he called it,” vigil organizer Melate Bekele said.
Those in attendance say they admired Hussle and believe he represented them well.