Nipsey Hussle is gone, but his legacy lives on in the lives and hearts he touched, including that of his beloved girlfriend.
Lauren London, the 34-year-old actress who dated the late rapper for years before his untimely death last month, paid tribute to him during a memorial held in Hussle's honor on Thursday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
London, who gave birth to their son Kross in 2016, took the podium during the emotional celebration of life and began by asking the audience to bare with her. "Never was I prepared for anything like this," she said.
She then read a text message she had sent to her beau in January. "Ermias, I'm in bed with you while you're sleeping and I wanted to tell u something. 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 with you (which is prob why I'm annoying) because i don't wear a cool mask anymore lol."
London continued, "You've made me into more of a woman. You've given me an opportunity to really love a man. You've been with me while I've been sick. Through my fears . U have encouraged me and inspired me to reach higher. I've learned so much more about myself with you. You've been my turn up and my church. I wouldn't want to go thru this journey with anyone but you. I look up to you in a lot of ways and strive to educate myself more like you have. And when we're at odds….i feel defeated and sad, knowing we are so much better than that."
The message concluded, "I just want you to know that you've been the greatest boyfriend to me. You aren't perfect but I would never ask you to be. You and I work. We fit. And 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."
"I had to write something because I've never felt this type of pain before, but I know that God is alive," she continued. "His soul was majestic. He was the strongest man that I ever knew, a gentle father, a patient leader, a divine light."
London noted Hussle's intelligence and his interest in learning and researching, often going to sleep with an audiobook playing. "My pain is for my 2-year-old who probably won't remember how much his dad loved him," she said tearfully.
Reflecting on something the rapper often said, she told the crowd, "I'm so honored and blessed that I got to experience such a man."
"We lost an incredible soul. We lost someone very rare to us...we won't ever be the same," she said of Los Angeles. London touchingly concluded, "Grief is the final act of love...I'm so grateful that I had you. I love you beyond this Earth."
In addition to London, family members like Hussle's mother and brother delivered emotional remarks about the late star. "I'm very proud of my son," mom Angelique Smith told the audience. "My son Ermias Joseph Asghedom was a great man."
She continued, "He had an aura around him that if you sat with him, it gave you power and energy. It filled up your spiritual tank."
His sibling Samiel Asghedom was visibly moved by the loss and the show of support. "You made the world proud. Look at this s--t, bro," he said. "I hope you know I loved him and I was proud of him."
Hussle, née Ermias Joseph Asghedom, was fatally shot last month outside his clothing store in Los Angeles. The Grammy nominee was 33 years old.
Last week, suspect Eric Holder was arrested and charged with one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon. Holder has pleaded not guilty.
Shortly after Hussle's passing, London took to social media to express her grief. "I am completely lost," she wrote in an emotional statement. "I've lost my best friend."
She continued, "My sanctuary. My protector. My soul.... I'm lost without you. We are lost without you babe. I have no words."