The Notorious B.I.G.
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Among the spate of documentary specials about Biggie that aired in the 1990s after his death, his mother, Voletta Wallace, said time and time again that her son was an honor roll student. That her son Christopher, better known to the public as the Notorious B.I.G., was intelligent, warm and funny.

She wasn't trying to say that, because he was smart, he didn't deserve to die; rather, she meant that he was a person, a human being worthy of living. She was humanizing her son because to many he had become a symbol, the product of an American ghetto. Or another slain rapper taken by the streets.

A woman by the name of Lorna Pinckney, who says she was childhood friends with Biggie, wrote a Facebook post reminiscing about her friend on the anniversary of his death.

"When I was growing up in Brooklyn, there was this really smart kid that lived in the building next to me. He read like 2 or 3 grade levels above his grade and was pretty good with math. He was older than me and for some reason made it his business to look out for me and my younger siblings," Pinckney wrote.

She said that she and Biggie would trade comic books and that he morphed into an older-brother figure in her life. He made sure she was in the house before the lights came up. 

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"When we got older, I noticed he was in the street a bit more. I wasn't at the age of judging but one day asked him why he wasn't going to school anymore and his response was 'I don't know Lorn … it might be to late for me" I never forgot that. Then he made sure I got home … and would always make sure I got home and in the house before those street lights came on … lol. I miss his jokes, and smile. Who knew he would grow up to be one of the best MC's of our time. Life is crazy like that haha … to my homie Chris aka Biggie—thank you for always looking out."

Well written, Lorna. Thank you for sharing a piece of Biggie with the world.

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Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele is a staff writer at The Root and the founder and executive producer of Lectures to Beats, a Web series that features video interviews with scarily insightful people. Follow Lectures to Beats on Facebook and Twitter.