Rap legend and "BIG3" founderreflected on his relationship with the late director during an interview with CBSN on Wednesday, calling him his "mentor" and "teacher." Ice Cube made his acting debut in Singleton's 1991 film "Boyz n the Hood."
The rapper achieved widespread fame as an artist with N.W.A. in the '80s, before launching his successful solo career. Now, he's also known for his work on the silver screen, starring in films like "Friday," "Barbershop" and remakes of "21 Jump Street." But the rapper said Singleton took a chance on him and helped ease him into his acting debut.
"I felt like I was working with a champion," Ice Cube told CBSN. "I felt like I was working with master. He was out, you know recruiting me being part of 'Boyz n the Hood' even though I didn't know I could act. I just think about and reflect that I wouldn't be here sitting today if it wasn't for John Singleton."
Ice Cube praised Singleton for casting many blossoming black actors and actresses, including Nia Long, Regina King, Angela Bassett, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Morris Chestnut.
Singleton died on April 19 following complications of a stroke. Los Angeles city council president named May 21 to be "John Singleton Day" to honor his life and legacy.
"You could go on and on and on with his impact on our lives and we're forever grateful," Ice Cube said. "We're all part of his team, we're all his students."
Ice Cube also shared the inspiration behind his three-on-three basketball league, BIG3, which is now in its third year. Despite running into several roadblocks, he believes his league has found the "right formula" to be popular among basketball fans.
"Just being a fan of basketball," he said. "Just sick and tired of seeing my favorite players retiring and like, poof, they vanish. We've been watching some of them since junior high school, college, pros and then they're gone, so I'm like, why not have a league where these guys can still play and modify it to where they can still play it at a high level."
The league features several former NBA stars, who are hoping to extend their careers and potentially find a path back to the NBA. Some of the most recognizable names include Gilbert Arenas, Lamar Odom, Nate Robinson and Carlos Boozer.
"You get to see some of the big matchups, big guys getting at it from different eras in some ways which is cool," he said. "You're seeing guys are still trying to get into the NBA. It's just great for the fans."
Bottomline, if you're an NBA fan — this could be a way to get your basketball fix in the summer, Ice Cube said. Starting June 22, watch the BIG3 kicks off on CBS and CBS Sports Network on Saturdays and Sundays.