Vernon Forrest Welcomes Nipsey Hussle

By Johnathan Lee Iverson on April 6, 2019
Vernon Forrest Welcomes Nipsey Hussle
Two years after he was murdered I visited his mausoleum. I was alone, me and the champ.

Men like that aren’t supposed to end their days riddled with bullets in the very streets they labored to uplift…

Two years after Vernon Forrest was murdered I visited his mausoleum. I was alone, me and the champ. I paid my respects, maybe said a prayer, but suddenly felt the haunting quiet of the place. It wasn’t fear. It was a sense of uneasiness. As quiet and tranquil as it was supposed to be, for me, a fan there was no peace. This wasn’t right!

In light of recent events, I remember that feeling. It came rushing back. It’s heavy and bleak. It leaves the mind spinning in confusion, questioning all we’ve been told about how the world is supposed to work. How you reap what you sow. Remember the law of attraction is to be a surefire thing. Put out love, you get love. Serve the least of these and good fortune will be your lot.

Not so for 33-year-old underground, hip hop, sensation, Ermias Asghedom, known to the world as Nipsey Hussle. I’m not a fan. I never heard a bar of his rhymes, but it hasn’t stopped the anger, even rage from churning inside me as I recount his horrific and shocking demise. I remember this feeling well. 2009 was already a heart wrenching summer for boxing. Arturo “Thunder” Gatti was found hung to death in Brazil. Alexis Arguello, one of the greatest gentleman ambassadors the sport had ever known was found dead in his native Nicaragua. Both deaths shrouded in mystery and controversy until this very hour. But, alas such things happen in threes as they say and the third death in this tragic summer trilogy would leave the boxing community truly stunned.

It’s not that Vernon Forrest was of greater stuff than Arguello or Gatti. After all, we are all marked good, bad, and ugly. However, it was the depth of the man. The kind of depth that transcended his sport and his own well-earned comforts. Vernon Forrest was that special kind of celebrity athlete parents dream of their children emulating and politicians use in their soundbites. His service to this world didn’t come by way of a tax deductible check drafted to some unknown charity from his foundation, Forrest put those powerful and gifted hands in the proverbial dirt of his passion for the least of these, the disabled members of our society through his Destiny’s Child Organization. This wasn’t a vanity project. It was his calling. His organization equipped its participants with working skills and job placement. They were his boisterous cheering section at his fights. The endearing irony of a world-class athlete with complete command of body and mind, as guardian and patron of those whose lives are a daily struggle to gain a semblance of dominion over themselves was a testament to the very best of our humanity. Men like that aren’t supposed to end their days riddled with bullets in the very streets they labored to uplift.

Yet, a decade later and we’re here again, attempting to comprehend how someone who could have easily abandoned the old neighborhood for greener pastures, as opposed to attempt to transform the world they were bred in, ends up the target of a callous and brutal death. Nipsey Hussle had become more than a mixtape legend. By all accounts he was a ‘hood apostle, not merely preaching, but walking in a message of economic empowerment and health. He was set to produce a documentary on the late naturalist Dr. Sebi. He acquired properties, among them the very property where, as Hussle remembered it, the owner of Master Burger didn’t seem too keen about the people who patronized his business actually being anywhere around the area of that business. “Now, he’s our tenant. He pays us rent every month,” said the late rapper. He hired ex-cons to work at his businesses, giving them a second chance they likely would have never found anywhere else. It was said, the week of his murder he was scheduled to meet with civic leaders and members of law enforcement to hash out solutions to curbing gang violence.

No matter what Billy Joel may croon, they were too young, yet, clearly too good for this wretched world. A champion in and out of the ring, a star on and off the stage. Both carved legacies that transcended their respective vocations and when all is said and done, those legacies will likely eclipse those endeavors. A friend to the disabled who so happened to be a world champion. A pillar of his community who so happened to be a rapper. Yet, no matter how great and righteous their work, there will never be peace. Losses such as these leave a bottomless void of heartbreak for the many who knew and loved them and even those who admired them from afar. As for society at large, particularly the part of the world in which they endeavored to serve and would meet their end, the part of the world they called home, it is an indictment of our unworthiness, a haunting fulfillment of the prophetic word, “that a prophet is without honor, save for in his own home.”

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  1. Lucas McCain 05:40am, 04/08/2019

    I have to admit I had a predisposition to like Nipsey Hussle because at least he paid homage to the previous generation, with his parody of the name Nipsey Russell, famous for his TV work but with a old-time comedy career before that.

  2. Chooglin' On Down To New Orleans 01:59pm, 04/07/2019

    Lucas McCain… Like most people I guess, I love the music that I listened to while I was growing up and when I was young, that was in the 70’s and 80’s. I do like some 90’s tunes and even a few made in this century, at least the early part of this century. haha. I have an eclectic taste in music, and kept all of my old cassettes, (remember those) and vinyl from back in the day that range from Waylon Jennings to The Stones to Brick and The Isley Brothers. I prefer what is termed “classic rock” these days over all music though. Sorry, but being as fair as possible, the “new stuff” out there is total crap. I can only imagine what some of those musical acts sound like live.

  3. Lucas McCain 10:56am, 04/07/2019

    Chooglin’  Very few listeners “keep up” with pop music just for the sake of it, unless they are getting paid as journalists or trying to make it with the younger crowd.  No shame in the oldies, but that doesn’t mean new stuff is no good!

  4. Chooglin' On Down To New Orleans 06:53am, 04/07/2019

    Never even heard of this “Nipsey Hu$$le” until a few days ago. Like everyone except Charles Manson and Hitler though, a guy or gal dies and suddenly they achieve sainthood. lololol.  I HATE rap so that could be the reason why I am not familiar with this guy or that other rapper, Tekashi SixNine. A short time ago I kept seeing this SixNine character’s name mentioned online. What a poor misguided fruitcake that clown is.  Can’t comment on Mr. Hu$$le, don’t know anything about him, seems like he had a lot of fans though. Cases like Vernon Forrest I can assure you happen in Atlanta and its surrounding counties every single day. Crime is TERRIBLE in the city of Atlanta and even in the entire metropolitan area.  Must have had 6 people hit by cars and left to die on the streets in Atlanta and its surrounding counties in the last year or so. How heartless is it to hit a pedestrian and leave them there injured or dead?

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