On Tuesday, actress Lauren London opened Instagram — the same app where she first connected with her partner, Grammy-nominated rapper Nipsey Hussle, more than five years ago — and shared a series of photos. There’s one of London embracing Hussle, a wide smile bringing out her dimples. In another, a grinning Hussle lifts his young son high in the air.
“I am completely lost,” London wrote in the post’s caption, her first public statement since Hussle, 33, was shot to death Sunday in South Los Angeles. “I’ve lost my best friend My sanctuary My protector My soul.... I’m lost without you We are lost without you babe I have no words.”
The emotional post came just hours after authorities announced the arrest of Los Angeles resident Eric Holder, 29, who is suspected of killing Hussle and injuring two others. LAPD chief Michel Moore told reporters Tuesday at a news conference that police believe the shooting was the result of “a personal matter” between Hussle and Holder.
In the aftermath of the shooting, amid the flood of tributes to Hussle from Los Angeles city officials, celebrities and fans, there were countless messages of condolence directed at London. The pair have been together since 2013 and share a son, whom they raised alongside a daughter and another son from previous relationships.
By early Wednesday, the 34-year-old’s Instagram post had nearly 3.9 million likes and more than 380,000 comments, with celebrities such as Alicia Keys, Jennifer Lopez and Janelle Monáe offering their support.
“Soulmates forever!” Keys wrote on Instagram. “We are all Sending you, your babies and your family the brightest most protective and loving collective unified light beautiful sister.”
Lopez commented that she was “praying for God to give you and your family all the strength you may need during this time.”
In another comment, Monáe wrote that Hussle’s “energy and spirit” will always be with London.
“We are all here for you sis,” the singer wrote. “Wrapping our arms around you and your beautiful family. We love you.”
For many social media users, London’s message reopened the wounds left by Hussle’s death.
Their relationship started with a direct message on Instagram.
“Our stories are very different,” London told GQ in February when she and Hussle were featured for this year’s Power Couple issue. “I did not slide into his DMs. My homeboy did ....”
In an interview last year with Boom 103.9 Philly, Hussle refused to reveal what the contents of the messages were, only noting that “they went a long way.”
Rewind to 2013. Hussle, who was continuing his slow but steady ascension in the rap world, had just dropped his eighth mix tape, “Crenshaw,” and was selling limited-edition copies for $100 each. London, then a series regular on the hit BET show “The Game,” wanted to buy the albums for her co-stars, GQ’s Mark Anthony Green reported.
London started following Hussle on Instagram. He followed her back. A “modern-day love story” blossomed, Green wrote.
In a GQ “Couples Quiz” video uploaded to YouTube last week, the pair revealed that they met for the first time in person at Hussle’s clothing store in South Los Angeles. The rapper was outside the store Sunday when he was shot.
“What did I think of you?” London asked Hussle, one of 30 questions she posed to the rapper as part of a challenge intended to see how well he knew her. (Hussle got 24 answers correct).
“I thought she was head-over-heels committed and ready to roll,” Hussle said in the video, prompting swift denials from London.
“I thought he was very tall,” she said, smiling.
Together, according to GQ, the couple was “redefining what a storybook romance looks like in 2019.”
But just a few years into their relationship, London told GQ she was faced with a life-altering choice between her family and her career.
The actress, a Los Angeles native like Hussle, had first appeared in music videos for artists such as Pharrell Williams and Ludacris before landing her breakout role in the 2006 film “ATL.” Following a successful run on the TV show, “The Game,” which ended in 2015, London was “handpicked” by director John Singleton to star in his new crime drama series, “Snowfall,” Hussle told GQ.
“She read, got the part, shot the pilot . . . did stunts . . . this was her dream role,” Hussle said.
Then London found out she was pregnant with Hussle’s baby. Without pressure from Hussle, London said she passed on the role. “Snowfall,” now on FX, is in its second season.
“Do I choose my soul or myself?” London said. “I went with my soul.”
The couple welcomed a son, Kross Asghedom, in 2016 — the newest addition to their family, which already consisted of London’s son with rapper Lil Wayne and Hussle’s daughter from a past relationship.
Beyond being celebrated for his music and his dedication to improving his community, Hussle was remembered as a loving father. In one photo shared Tuesday by London, Hussle and Kross were all smiles as they snuggled together.
Kross’s first words were “da da,” London said in the YouTube clip. As of early Wednesday, the video had been watched more than 7 million times.
On Tuesday, tributes to Hussle continued.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti described the rapper as “an artist who touched our city and the lives far beyond.”
“He was a tireless advocate for the young people of this city and of this world, to lift them up . . . by not being imprisoned by where you come from or past mistakes, but the possibility of what comes in the future,” Garcetti said during Tuesday’s news conference.
When Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook dropped 20 points, 20 rebounds and 21 assists in Tuesday night’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers, there was only one person on his mind, The Washington Post’s Des Bieler reported.
“That wasn’t for me, man,” Westbrook said after the game. “That was for my bro . . . That’s for Nipsey.”
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