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"It becomes a hate": LeBron James speaks out on friend Nipsey Hussle's death

LeBron James talks Nispey Hussle death

Basketball superstar LeBron James is speaking out about the recent loss of his friend, rapper Nipsey Hussle, to murder in Los Angeles last month. Hussle was shot and killed outside his clothing store in South Los Angeles on March 31. Police have arrested 29-year-old Eric Holder and charged him with murder. 

"It's another tragedy in the inner city, urban community, and it's just unfortunate," James said in an interview with Jim Hill of CBS 2 Los Angeles, struggling to remain composed. "It's so unfortunate when you look at a guy who believed in what he believed in, talked about how he wanted to give back to his own community, actually gave back to his community, and actually stayed in his community." 

Aside from being a Grammy-nominated rapper and musician, Hussle was a fixture in the South Los Angeles community, where he was born and raised. Last year, he opened a STEM center and co-working space called Vector 90 where young people could attend classes. He hoped to help bridge the gap between disadvantaged kids and Silicon Valley. Prior to his death, the 33-year-old rapper had written a letter to the police commissioner expressing a willingness to hold a meeting about ways to reduce gang violence. 

"To see his life taken away from him in his community by someone that come from his community, it's one of the most unfortunate events that's happened in American history," James said. 

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LeBron James wears a t-shirt with the likeness of slain rapper Nipsey Hussle during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors, April 4, 2019. Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

James was further incensed by the injustice of Hussle's life being taken by a suspect who appeared to envy his success. Police believe Hussle was shot after a "personal dispute" with Holder, whom they described as an aspiring rapper and member of an L.A. street gang.  

"We always talk about, like, when you become someone, you tap into that gift, and you know what your gift is and then you give back, and you continue to give back, and you continue to give back, and you continue to put on for where you come from, and to see it taken away by someone who didn't have the same drive, and didn't have the same ambition, that didn't have the same motivation, but comes from the same place you come from. It's what we have to deal with in our own inner cities," James said.    

"We go to school with these guys," James said. "We play Little League football and basketball with these guys. And because of their motivation not being as much as ours, it becomes a hate, it becomes a 'you made it, you left me here.' They start to really hate you for that."

For LeBron James, who signed with the Los Angeles Lakers last summer and had been a friend of Hussle's, the rapper's death touched a personal nerve. James, too, has focused on giving back to the community he grew up in; his Family Foundation opened the $8 million I Promise Academy public school for low-income students in Akron, Ohio last year. 

The outpouring of grief for Nipsey Hussle spread through the community last week. Fans gathered around his clothing store for a vigil, artistic murals have appeared around Los Angeles to commemorate his life, and a memorial service to celebrate his life will be held in the Staples Center on Thursday. 

Holder pleaded not guilty during his first court appearance in Los Angeles last week. He was arraigned on one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon. If convicted as charged, he faces a possible maximum sentence of life in state prison.

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