James Harden Excused From Practice On Monday As He Mourns Death Of Childhood Friend Nipsey Hussle

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James Harden was excused from practice on Monday as the Houston Rockets star mourns the shooting death of his close friend, rapper Nipsey Hussle.

The Los Angeles rapper, whose real name is Ermias Davidson Asghedom, was killed on Sunday in a shooting outside the store he owns in the city’s Hyde Park neighborhood. As Rockets Wire reported, Harden was close friends with Ashgedom as the two grew up in the same neighborhood and attended Audobon Middle School together.

The two remained close as both found fame, with Nipsey Hussle attending a number of charity functions put on by Harden in the Los Angeles neighborhood where they both grew up. Harden was also known to play Nipsey Hussle’s songs frequently, and some of the songs even play before Rockets home games at the Toyota Center in Houston.

Police in Los Angeles are still investigating the shooting death of the rapper, who was shot along with two other people outside his store. As the Los Angeles Times reported, law enforcement sources said that the shooter was likely associated with a local gang and the motive was believed to be personal rather than a random robbery and shooting. The suspect, described as a black male, was still at large.

“At this point, we’re not even sure as to whether he walked up, rode a bicycle or drove up in a car,” said Los Angeles Police Lt. Chris Ramirez.

The rapper’s death brought an outpouring of support from celebrities and others in the music world. He was beloved in the Los Angeles community as well, leading a number of charitable projects and investing back in the neighborhood where he grew up with his clothing business.

As word of his death spread, hundreds of people gathered outside his store to mourn and leave flowers.

Nipsey Hussle was an avid basketball fan and was often seen at Los Angeles Lakers games, wearing Lakers jerseys during performances and in music videos.

It was not clear how any memorial services for Nipsey Hussle could affect the remaining days of the regular NBA season for James Harden. The Houston Rockets are traveling to Sacramento on Tuesday to take on the Kings and will be in Los Angeles on Wednesday to play the Clippers. The team does not play again until Friday, so the proximity to Los Angeles could allow Harden to attend the funeral for his childhood friend without missing any games.