ATLANTA - Fans celebrated the musical legacy of slain rapper Takeoff on Friday at a memorial service in Atlanta, near where the artist grew up, that drew Justin Bieber, Drake and other big names in the music industry.
Takeoff, part of the Grammy Award-nominated trio Migos with uncle Quavo and cousin Offset, was shot and killed earlier this month outside a Houston bowling alley. A woman and another man were also wounded in the shooting. No arrests have been made.
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said the day after the shooting that Takeoff, born Kirsnick Khari Ball, was "well respected," and there was "no reason to believe he was involved in anything criminal at the time."
Migos’ record label, Quality Control, mourned Takeoff’s death in a statement posted on Instagram that attributed it to "senseless violence and a stray bullet." Police have said nothing about the gunshot being stray.
Celebration of life for Migos rapper Takeoff in Atlanta
A view of atmosphere during a Celebration of Life for Takeoff of Migos at State Farm Arena on November 11, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Derek White/Getty Images)
The weather in Downtown Atlanta matched the somber mood of those who attending Friday's celebration of life for rapper Takeoff.
Organizers did not release a program for the event or allow media inside. Several fans leaving the event confirmed Bieber and Drake’s presence and said Offset and Quavo also talked.
Photos later released showed dancers, Gopsel singers, and Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens all honor the fallen artist.
Atlanta resident Jeffrey Wilson said the event was moving.
"His mother was up there, and I could see the tears in her," Wilson said. "I felt the kinship myself, like I knew him personally.
Migos broke out nearly a decade ago with the 2013 hit "Versace," which hit even greater heights in popularity through a Drake remix. The trio were largely raised by Takeoff’s mother in an Atlanta suburb.
Fans gather at State Farm Arena for Takeoff memorial
Tyler Williams drove hours from Montgomery, Alabama, on Friday morning with his 2-year-old son, Ashton.
"He probably won’t remember it," he said of his son. "But it’s something to have when he gets older, to know he was there."
Jenifer Loving, 22, stood in line with her infant son, Mateo, for more than an hour before the doors at State Farm Arena opened to fans who were able to get a free ticket. She said Takeoff’s death was heartbreaking in part because he was only 28 years old.
Migos’ music represented the creativity and culture of the Black community, she said, and she worried the group would be too saddened to make new music — at least for a while.
"It’s just something that you can play anywhere, and everybody will just come out and come around and dance," she said. "It’s how it brings people together. It’s how it makes the whole room just fill up with positivity."
Eric Hood, an Atlanta firefighter, said he was shocked when he heard about Takeoff’s death because of the three members of Migos, he was considered the most laid back.
Migos’ music was an "escape" for many people, he said, and he was hopeful the event would leave the rapper’s family and the rest of the group with lasting memories of him.
"I pray for them," he said. "I hope they continue to be uplifting, positive, influential members in the society and keep pushing forward."
"Takeoff been my favorite rapper for some years I'm not going to lie. I love him," said Atlanta resident Dallas Pringle.
Latreyvia Sharpe and her son Amir were the first in line.
"Yesterday was kind of bittersweet. It was his birthday he was a big fan of Takeoff and I was too," said Sharpe."
Dozens of fans lined up early at the arena, home to the Atlanta Hawks, despite rainy weather. A massive sign outside was lit up with the rapper’s image.
"Just to have lost Takeoff so suddenly, and the way that he was taken from us is tragic. So, I just came to pay my respects to someone who I've had a lot of respect for over the years," said fan Amber Burks.
Free tickets to the memorial service were available to Georgia residents, but State Farm Arena said well before Friday that the event had reached capacity and fans without tickets should not come downtown.
Takeoff's family is asking donations be made to the Rocket Foundation. The foundation supports programs to prevent gun violence.
The Associated Press contributed to this report