After 15 years have passed after the death of the late great Tupac Shakur, his father, Billy Garland, sits down with XXL for an exclusive interview to speak about his son.
You can read part of the interview below:
It’s been 15 years since your son Tupac’s death. How do you feel when you look back?
Billy Garland: It still hurts. We’re talking about someone that is a part of you. Someone that you wish you had spent more time with as a father. Someone that you loved and… Fifteen years, it still feels like yesterday. To anybody out there, the last thing you ever, ever wanna do is lose your child. It’s the most painful thing in the world. Fortunately—I don’t know, fortunately or unfortunately—it’s a child that you see regularly. I walk down the street and see his picture on people’s T-shirts. I see magazines.
You hear him…
Every day on the radio. You know, I’m not the only parent who lost a celebrity son or daughter. But I’ve gotta be one of the few parents that have to see that and be reminded of that daily.
Does it amaze you? There are not too many celebrities who are that big, let alone rappers.
Yes, to a certain extent, because it was always my son. He was never “2Pac, the superstar.” You know, we played Monopoly together. And he tried to cheat. [Laughs] Yeah, in prison. Little, stupid stuff. You know, we ate sunflower seeds together. He had that ability to be down home, just as real as anyone else. He cared for people. That was his main thing. He really cared for people. I think that’s why he would get so upset when people tried to question his commitment, his love for Black women or Black men. The East Coast/West Coast, you know, that’s a fabrication. I don’t have to begin to tell you that. So when that was questioned, it bothered him. Because he would give his heart or soul. He was a giving person. He would give anything to people. He would go in a store. [If there was a] Black man who couldn’t afford a $1,500 pair of boots, he would buy ’em for him. Think that Black man would ever forget Tupac? That’s just the way he is. But I don’t think that he did it for that. He did it because he had it, and he didn’t. That’s the way he is.
Tupac passed at 25. A lot of people aren’t really developed into being a full adult at 25. Do you think that was the case with him?
He still had a lot of childish ways. When I’d visit him [at Clinton Correctional Facility] in Dannemora, I’d ask him about some of the instances—the immature things, the spitting at reporters. He’d say, “Pops, I know I was wrong.” He would say that. He wanted to calm down. He wanted to go watch movies, to stay at home more. He wanted to cool out more. You know, but you get caught up in it. You get caught up in being that which they think you should be. And then you start acting that way, unfortunately. But one on one, any given moment, he’s just a down-to-earth type of person to know.