MEMPHIS, Tennessee (AP) – Two days before he was shot down while buying cookies at his favorite bakery in Memphis, Tennessee, rapper Young Dolph visited a cancer center where a relative had received treatment.
The 36-year-old, who grew up on the streets of Memphis, was in town to hand out turkeys in a church and elsewhere prior to Thanksgiving. He stopped by the West Cancer Center in the Memphis suburb of Germantown on Monday, where he spent time with the clinical staff and thanked them for the compassionate care given to a relative, the center said in a statement.
Homecoming like this had become common in his life, which ended Wednesday when he was shot several times inside Makeda’s Cookies, a popular bakery owned by a black family and known for tasty cookies and banana pudding. The rough southern city where Young Dolph grew up helped him create the material that nurtured his influential career in the hip-hop world – and in the end, his life was taken from him.
“Our staff was deeply touched by his sincerity and efforts to spread such gratitude,” the cancer center said in a statement. “During his visit, Dolph explained that he would soon dare to donate turkeys to the Memphis community at a number of community centers across the city before Thanksgiving – which is yet another testament to his gracious heart.”
Police continued to search for suspects in the killing, who shook Memphis and shocked the entertainment world as yet another senseless act of gun violence against an African-American man. Police on Thursday released photos taken from surveillance video showing two men leaving a white Mercedes-Benz and shooting Young Dolph before fleeing.
Since his killing, social media has been filled with messages of respect and love for the rapper, whose music discussed drug trafficking, street crime and his crack-addicted parents along with hard-earned lessons on strength and endurance in the face of difficult circumstances. His legacy as a fiercely independent artist and businessman was cemented in the hip-hop universe.
His acts of charity galvanized his reputation in Memphis, a city that deals with poverty, gun violence, and disproportionately high prison rates for blacks. In 2020, Young Dolph donated $ 25,000 to Hamilton High School for new sports equipment at his alma mater.
Earlier this year, he visited children the day before Easter in St. James Missionary Baptist Church. There he met Pastor Rodney Herron, who asked him to return to the modest church to hand out turkeys to families before Thanksgiving.
The rapper happily agreed and had plans to hand out the food on Friday. Despite his death, the event will continue, Herron said.
“This is a nice young man, he was down to earth,” Herron said. “I am desperate because I knew what the young man was doing for society, how far he wanted to go in society. … He came back to where his heart was, and he always gave. ”
Herron said Young Dolph had discussed buying a local community center. Herron said he will push to rename the center after the hip-hop artist.
The rapper was also scheduled to attend a holiday event for children of jailed parents in a church in December, said Tameka Greer, CEO of Memphis Artists for Change.
“His generosity knew no bounds,” she said in a statement. “The young Dolph did not deserve to die, nor do the children, young people and adults who lose their lives every day due to gun violence.”
Young Dolph, whose real name was Adolph Thornton Jr., began his career handing out CDs on the street. He later released several mixtapes, starting with 2008’s “Paper Route Campaign” and several studio albums. He collaborated with other rappers Key Glock, Megan Thee Stallion, TI, Gucci Mane, 2 Chainz and others.
“The streets know me, everyone already knows who I am,” he said in a 2014 interview with VICE. “Really respect real, so if you can make Memphis love you, you need to have something real there. Memphis does not just support anyone. “
Like the Los Angeles rapper Nipsey Hussle, who was killed in 2019, Young Dolph pursued an independent approach to the music industry. His Paper Route Empire label retained control of his music.
Fans are lowered to the cookie shop, where a memorial to balloons and stuffed animals steadily grew in front of the store’s clad windows. Makeda’s Cookies issued a statement saying its owners are devastated by the death of Young Dolph, who recently appeared in an Instagram post promoting the store.
When Marquize Brand, a 31-year-old Memphis native, smoked a cigarette outside the store, he said he used to visit the cake store as a boy with his grandmother and still does today. Brand said he was disgusted by the killing of the rapper.
“It’s really sad that the worst is going to happen and you’re trying to do the best you can with the best heart,” Brand said. “I heard stories about how good Dolph was at people. Why get rid of good people?”
Associated Press reporters Ryan Pearson of Los Angeles and Joshua Housing of Munster, Indiana, contributed to this report.
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