A major thing that has been on display in the aftermath of the shooting death of Nipsey Hussle was just how present he was in the music and sports world. The day before he was shot in front of his Marathon clothing store in Los Angeles, for example, Nipsey was courtside celebrating Texas Tech’s win in the Elite Eight. Nipsey was close friends with the father of a Tech player who invited Nipsey to the game and left tickets for him.
Hours later, he was gone.
While the NBA world mourned the loss of Nipsey over the course of the week, many shared personal stories about his work in the community and what his music meant to the players and their career. And that connection certainly extended into the college basketball world, especially with Bobby and Brandone Francis, the latter of whom will play for Texas Tech in the Final Four on Saturday.
The two spoke to Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo Sports about their relationship with Nipsey and how he came to sit courtside at Saturday’s Texas Tech win.
The Yahoo story is touching and explores the relationship between Nipsey and the father-son duo. Nipsey was late, and Bobby said he was “shattered” when he though he was going to miss the game. But he was just stuck in traffic, and when he finally got to the arena he made his presence known.
The way Hussle yelled for Brandone when he arrived at the Honda Center, you’d have thought it was his own kid playing for a Final Four berth. French fries in one hand and a drink in the other, Hussle announced that Texas Tech was “taking this” to anyone within earshot when he got to his courtside seat and only got more animated as the Red Raiders pulled in front.
When Texas Tech players spilled onto the floor in celebration at the final buzzer, Hussle patted a teary-eyed Bobby on the back and shouted, “Big Bob, we going to the Final Four!” He later caught Brandone’s attention and yelled across the floor to congratulate him.
“Brandon looked at Nipsey like his idol was right in front of his face,” said Steve Lobel, Hussle’s first manager and another friend of the Francis family. “I don’t know why he didn’t jump over the railing to hug Nipsey.”
The piece explores how Bobby helped Nipsey gain attention as an emerging artist and later, how Brandone discovering Nipsey on his own helped the two bond as father and son.
“Nipsey made me cool to my son,” Bobby Francis said. “He made me reputable. He made me honest. He made my son trust me. That conversation is what started the process of healing between me and my son.”
From that day forward, Hussle became more than a rapper to Brandone Francis. He was an idol, a big brother.
Hussle would send Brandone video shout-outs on his birthday and text or FaceTime with him sporadically. The rapper would also always ask how Brandone’s basketball season was going anytime he spoke with Bobby.
Bobby said his “heart felt like 1,000 pounds right down to my feet,” when he heard the news about Nipsey, made only more tragic that he was actually at the Marathon store on Sunday. The family is clearly struggling with the loss of a friend who was much closer to a member of the family, and it certainly puts a college basketball game into perspective given the impact that Nupsey had on the community.
Brandone’s quote about the week he’s had is particularly heartbreaking.
“It’s a little bittersweet moment for me being here,” he told Yahoo. “Probably one of the most special times in my life but at the same time I lost one of my favorite people.”