An extra jersey hung in the lockers belonging to Clippers reserves Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell on Sunday afternoon inside Staples Center.
Jerseys had been customized hours earlier with the name “Hussle” on the back and were quickly delivered to a locker room that, like many across the NBA, was mourning the death of local rapper Nipsey Hussle.
Hours after the Grammy-nominated artist was shot and killed outside his clothing store in South Los Angeles, news of his death reverberated across the league, beginning in the city’s downtown arena. The Clippers played a video tribute before Sunday night’s tipoff against Memphis, and Williams and Harrell each wrote messages on their sneakers in black marker.
“It’s just rough,” said Williams, who has made music throughout his career and knew Hussle personally. “I haven’t even been able to digest it all.”
Though he said he was not as close with Hussle as teammates Williams and Wilson Chandler were, Harrell said he admired Hussle’s work in the South L.A. community where he was born and raised. Hussle was regarded highly not only for his music, but also for his civic work: He donated shoes to students, helped fund local school improvements and was involved with the Destination Crenshaw arts project.
“I’ve seen the stuff that he did for the city of Los Angeles and the uplift that he brought to the community,” Harrell said. “It’s just tough, man.
“… For his life to be taken from where he was basically born and raised, it’s just tough, man. It’s a sad day. We really got to come together as people and stop just promoting all this violence. There’s a better way to go, there’s a different way to go than just to be able to take somebody’s life. His fiancee, his kids, he’s not going to be there for them and it’s just tough.”
The Lakers’ LeBron James, Miami’s Dwyane Wade and Golden State’s Stephen Curry were among the dozens of NBA players to post tributes to Hussle on social media.
“So so SAD man!!” James wrote. “DAMN man this hurt.”
“People like Nip are never just what they do for a living,” Chandler tweeted. “So much more man. Dropped a lot of gems. Touched a lot of [people]. He’s one of the most genuine [people] I ever crossed paths with. Lost an amazing soul today. Same [people] you fight for will kill you sometimes. That’s a real lesson.”