June 16, 1971
He was born on June 16, 1971. Although he was born as Lesane Parish Crooks, the following year his parents renamed him after an 18th-century Peruvian revolutionary. He studied acting, poetry, and jazz. He performed the Mouse King in the ballet “The Nutcracker” and he admired Shakespeare, saying, “I love Shakespeare. He wrote some of the rawest stories. I mean look at Romeo and Juliet.”
There are many stories about him, some good, some bad. Fans admired the way he expressed himself and how he addressed social issues through his words, going as far as calling him a “symbol of resistance and activism against inequality.” Others point out not so good stories about him and how he was a negative example for children.
But, there is one story that many people didn’t know about him.
It began with another family, the family of Army Sgt. Abdul-Hakim Torres. Torres’ 11-year-old son, Joshua, had Muscular Dystrophy that led to a Cardiomyopathy (Enlargement of the heart). Wanting to make his son’s last moments happy, Torres contacted the Make-A-Wish Foundation to arrange for one of Joshua’s favorite stars to hopefully come and visit him. Unfortunately, because of the time and travel constraints, they were unable to help.
Joshua was having trouble keeping his head up, and time was beginning to run out. He had just returned from the hospital, but he felt weaker.
Desperate, his mother called the local radio station for help. She also asked Joshua for five names, hoping the radio station would be able to contact at least one of them and have them call Joshua. Out of those five names, there was only one name that took the radio station’s call for help.
It was Lesane Parish Crooks, now known by his rapper name, “2Pac” or Tupac Shakur.
Joshua had admired Shakur and would listen to his music, picking up the messages behind his music, and often sharing them with his friends and his sister, according to his father.
The radio station asked Shakur whether he could make a phone call to Joshua. Within thirty minutes, Shakur was on the phone with Joshua. They talked for about 15 minutes. Shakur noticed Joshua was having difficulties, told him to hang in there and “keep ya head up” which was Joshua’s favorite song.
Before they ended their phone call, Shakur asked whether there was anything else he could do for Joshua.
Joshua asked whether there was anyway he could visit him. That was a big request with so little time, Shakur would say he was unsure but he would check his other prior commitments. He told Joshua he would really try. Joshua said he would wait for an answer.
Within a couple of hours there was a knock on the family’s door.
Tupac Shakur had made a last-minute flight via jet from New York to Aberdeen to visit Joshua.
Sgt. Torres would say, “I was really shocked that he stopped what he was doing, got in the jet and came down here to visit my son.”
According to Sgt. Torres, Shakur “arrived and spent over an hour beside our son holding him and comforting him as much as possible and expressing lots of sympathy for our son Joshua. Mr. Shakur talked to my wife and I and expressed his sympathies followed by hugs and departed.”
There was no television cameras, no live broadcast by the radio station, no publicity at all.
According to witnesses, Shakur simply held Joshua’s hand, talked to him, and cried with him.
Not even an hour later after Shakur had left, Joshua was gone.
Sgt. Torres called Shakur and told him of Joshua’s passing, saying, “When I told him Josh passed away, he was like, ‘Aw, man.’ He was pretty emotional.”
The Torres family would write, “We have lots of respect and feel very close to Mr. Shakur for dropping everything on his agenda to fly down from New York to visit our beloved son Joshua. We can never thank him enough for all that he did. He sent our son some memorabilia’s and flowers upon hearing the news of our son.”
“We know that some of the public look at Mr. Shakur as a negative example,” Sgt. Torres would say, “however there is a positive side to him that is definitely greater than the public see or hears.”
Shakur was so affected by Joshua, even in the limited time he was able to spend with him that he would rename his publishing company’s name from Ghetto Gospel Music to “Joshua’s Dream”.
Sgt. Torres would say, “No one can ever know the other side of Tupac. He sat with my son at his bed and cried for 45 minutes.”
“Keep Ya Head Up”
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