Penny Hardaway called on the city of Memphis to “do better” after his friend, rapper Young Dolph, was shot and killed on Wednesday at a local cookie shop.
Young Dolph, whose real name was Adolph Thornton Jr., was a rap star who surprised Memphis basketball fans when he performed at Memphis Madness at the FedEx Forum in 2019, where Hardaway was beginning his second season coaching at his alma mater.
According to local police, gunmen fired at Thornton, 36, after he’d entered Makeda’s Homemade Butter Cookies on Wednesday afternoon.
Hardaway shared his condolences and a picture with Thornton on Thursday on Instagram.
“I’m really hurt behind the situation,” Hardaway said. “[Memphis] born, in the city all the time, giving back to his community … giving back to Hamilton High School, giving back to the city, to get murdered like that, it just, it doesn’t sit well with me, man. We have to do better. This is a guy that was coming back to his community, to give back to our community, from our soil.”
Thornton had held an annual turkey giveaway and had a nonprofit to help people in need.
His love for Memphis basketball was strong. At the BET Hip Hop Awards in 2019, he predicted the Tigers would cut down the nets under the former Orlando Magic point guard.
“It’s gonna be dope,” he told a reporter on the red carpet at the event. “I can’t even wait until the season starts. We going straight to the Final Four, straight to the championship.”
Hardaway is not the only college coach grieving over the loss of Thornton, who was the city’s 274th homicide in 2021.
Jackson State football head coach Deion Sanders expressed his sadness over the loss of Thornton, who was popular within his team. Thornton recently led a postgame locker room celebration with Jackson State players after a win as one of his songs played in the background.
Sanders tweeted that the rapper’s family was in his prayers.