Afeni Shakur Davis, the mother of late rap legend Tupac Shakur, died yesterday. She was 69.
According to the New York Daily News, police responded to Davis’ home in Sausalito, California, yesteray, after she had reportedly suffered cardiac arrest. Police said today that she was rushed to the hospital, where she passed away shortly before 10:30 p.m. local time.
Davis welcomed her son Tupac, in June, 1971. She was an activist and a member of the Black Panther Party, which heavily influenced Tupac’s politically charged music throughout his career. Davis and her son remained close throughout his upbringing in East Harlem, NYC, and the rapper even dedicated his 1995 hit Dear Mama, from his third studio album Me Against The World, to his mum. The song eventually landed at No. 9 on the Billboard Top 100 chart.
“There’s no way I can pay you back,” he rapped in the song. “But the plan is to show you that I understand/You are appreciated.”
A year later, he was murdered at age 25 in a contested Las Vegas shooting. After her son’s death, Davis took it upon herself to look over her son’s legacy. She also engaged in a bitter battle with Tupac’s biological father to keep a hold over his estate and assets.
In a memorable interview with Howard Stern last June, Tupac’s close friend Jada Pinkett Smith reflected on their humble upbringings. The two attended arts school together when they were teens.
“I’ve had never in my life met a person like Pac. He had so much charisma. And he was poor,” Will Smith’s wife noted of the Harlem native. “When I met Pac, he owned two pairs of pants and two sweaters . . . . He used to tell me all the time. He was like, ‘Jada, you’re a superstar’. He didn’t say it about himself.”
Though the two had a falling out — Pinkett Smith didn’t agree with the direction in which he was headed as he rose to fame — the actress said his sudden death taught her one invaluable lesson.
“Which is life is too short. Do not let disagreements stand in between you and people that you love,” she said. “I love him. You know what? He left a very strong and powerful mark. People are still inspired by him. So he did his work.”