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Gun violence is one of the leading causes of death on an annual basis, resulting in tens of thousands of lives lost every year as a result of either suicide or homicide. In 2018 alone, the 38,390 deaths from firearm violence broke down to 51% being a result of self-inflicted and 74% being homicides involving firearms. Sadly, some of our favorite public figures are included in that latter group of victims that died as a result of fatal shootings.


While gangsta rappers like Nipsey Hussle, 2Pac and Brooklyn’s eternal king The Notorious B.I.G. each rapped about the dangerous lifestyles that ultimately took all three of their lives, in no way did either of them deserve to go out that way. Civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X surely didn’t deserve to die as political martyrs for the advancement of Black people, and it goes without saying that Tejano queen Selena was just getting started when she was slain by a woman who’s name never needs to be spoken again.

Read on for our tribute to famous folk who lost their lives due to gun violence, including soul legend Marvin Gaye, would-be Harlem rap king Big L and a list of other missed legends:



1. Marvin Gaye (April 2, 1939 – April 1, 1984)

Marvin Gaye performs on Soul Train. Source:Getty

Dying on the eve of his 45th birthday was sad enough, but the assailant being Marvin Gaye’s own father really made his loss feel ten-times more heartbreaking.

2. Big L (May 30, 1974 – February 15, 1999)

Big L In Chicago Source:Getty

The fame that guys like Cam’Ron, Ma$e and even on some levels Jay-Z enjoyed during their respective peaks is definitely owed to Big L not getting the chance to serve up some serious competition. Thankfully L’s memory is always help up as the icon he would’ve been.

3. XXXtentacion (January 23, 1998 – June 18, 2018)

XXXtentacion Source:Joe Chea

Living a fast life that ended on a controversial note in more ways than one, XXXtentacion’s loss is a painful one to grasp because he was so young when it happened. At 20, he should’ve had so much time to correct the errors from his young adulthood. 

4. Jam Master Jay (January 21, 1965 – October 30, 2002)

Run-DMC Portrait Shoot Source:Getty

Halloween ’02 was horrific for a reason that it shouldn’t have been, mainly because it marked the senseless death of Run DMC’s legendary DJ. Even though his murder is still unsolved, we hope the late icon gets his due justice. 

5. Malcolm X (May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965)

Malcolm X with Money Source:Richard Saunders/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The assassination of Malcolm X polarizes people even to this this day, having inspired a never-ending line of books, movies, biographical series and other forms of media that try to make sense of how a man with such vision could be slain in such a way.

6. Pop Smoke (July 20, 1999 – February 19, 2020)


Another young emcee to die before their career even got a chance to start, the 20-year-old Brooklyn rapper’s death gave the world a powerful lesson on what we have to be careful sharing on social media.

7. King Von (August 9, 1994 – November 6, 2020)

Compound Saturday Nights Hosted by 42 Dugg Source:Getty

The fatal shooting of Chicago rapper King Von late last year proved that gun violence, especially within the hip-hop world, is sadly far from being expunged completely. 

8. Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968)

Birmingham Press Conference Source:Getty

We honor him on his birthday for a reason, and to think that MLK Jr. could’ve possibly been celebrating his 92nd birthday with us in 2021 had it not been for his 1968 assassination is a dream that’s just too sad to dwell on for too long. 

9. The Notorious B.I.G. / Biggie Smalls (May 21, 1972 – March 9, 1997)

Notorious B.I.G. AKA Biggie Smalls Receives Billboard Music Award. Source:Getty

Biggie’s death is still one of the saddest moments from the ’90s overall, but his legacy has thankfully proved to grow bigger than even he probably would’ve imagined.

10. Tupac Shakur / 2Pac (June 16, 1971 – September 13, 1996)

Tupac Shakur At Club Amazon Source:Getty

Tupac Shakur, the prolific, powerful and oftentimes political poet of ’90s hip-hop, is easily one of the greatest losses the game has ever felt. There are no words to explain how much his presence is missed in music.

11. Nipsey Hussle (August 15, 1985 – March 31, 2019)

Grammy Awards 2019 Arrivals Source:WENN

A community man in every sense of the word, Nipsey Hussle became a certified West Coast icon well before his senseless murder. Through acts of activism around his neighborhood, the Crenshaw king did things that his people will forever be grateful for.

12. Selena (April 16, 1971 – March 31, 1995)

Estella Leak(R) wipes away tears during a memorial Source:Getty

Losing Selena is still a hard fact to process, even two decades and counting after her tragic murder. What’s comforting is that her estate is doing everything and then some to make sure no one ever forgets the Queen of Tejano music.