JUNE 10, 1996
Tupac and Lemika Early (niece of bodyguard Frank Alexander) on the set of “Gridlock’d.” In 1995, Lemika was in a terrible car accident that left her confined to a wheelchair and paralyzed from the waist down. When Tupac found out about Lemika’s story, he invited her out to California to meet him. Over the course of 2 days, Lemika and her family hung out with Tupac on the set of “Gridlock’d” and in the studio during a recording session.
”Why U Turn On Me” recording session.
Tupac in the studo / “Reincarnation” session.
Source: ‘Got Your Back’ by Frank Alexander
Typed by: Hellrazor
My niece, Lemika Early, had one idol in her life. Like a lot of young black girls, her idol was Janet Jackson..
She had Janet’s pictures on her walls, all of Janet’s records, and even a scrapbook filled with Janet memorabilia.
She loved and admired her completely. My niece was also in a wheelchair. In 1995, she and two of her friends were
in a terrible car accident, and from the age of fourteen on, Lemika was paralyzed from the waist down. At the hospital,
she learned about the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and she got the opportunity to make a wish.
The Foundation arranged everything. Lemika and her entire family were invited to come to Los Angeles in June of 1996.
The plans included the chance to spend a half hour with Janet and a trip to Disneyland for the whole family.
I can’t tell you how excited everybody was. It’s all they could talk about. My niece had never been outside of Chicago and
she was getting the chance to spend four nights and five days in L.A. My sister Beverly called me up and told me
the news. She’d gone out and bought the family new clothes and everybody was just waiting for the designated day
when they were gonna got on that plane.
I’ll let Beverly and Lemika tell you what happened.
“At the last minute, they called and said Janet Jackson wanted to change the plans,”
“I couldn’t believe it. They told us we were going to New York instead.”
“I said, ‘New York? What are we gonna do in New York?’ The kids already had their hearts set on California.
I’d already spent money on clothes, and with four kids, that’s a lot of money.”
Lemika was gonna be crushed. It’s bad enough she’s had to go through the accident, and lose the use of her legs,
spending the better part of two years in physical therapy. Now her wish didn’t look like it was going to come through, either.
“The lady told me, ‘Well, you can visit the Statue of Liberty,'”
“I said, ‘Hell no, we ain’t going to no
New York to visit no Statue of Liberty.’ We can read about it in a social-studies book. Janet Jackson pissed me
off. They said something about Janet had a favorite candy store in New York we could go to, I didn’t know what the fuck
they were talking about. All I know is, I have a five-year-old daughter , too, who had her heart set on going to
Disneyland, and it was turning into a big mess. This all came down at the last minute.”
“I was so disappointed,”
“I was her number one fan, and it meant a lot to be granted that wish.”
Working with Pac, I understand a celebrity’s busy schedule, but if you’re not game to do something, don’t say you’re
gonna do it. Simple as that.
Beverly told the lady she was going to talk to Lemika when she came home from school.
Lemika had to make the decision. All we knew for sure was, Janet Jackson might spend anywhere from fifteen minutes to an
hour with her, and was it still worth it to her?
She decided no, it wasn’t worth it. When the lady called back, Lemika told her she wanted to go to California.
That’s when they called me. I was working on the set of Gridlock’d, and Beverly filled me in on everything that happened.
When I went to work the next day, I told Pac the story. I’d never told him anything personal about my family before, and I shared
with him everything that had happened to Lemika. Then I told him about Janet Jackson’s actions.
We were inside the trailer, and I’ll never forget what he said.
“I hate that shit,”
were his exact words.
“What can I do?”
I hadn’t even asked him to help out yet, because they were still going to be able to go to Disneyland, and I knew he was busy.
But just like Pac, he was ready to take on more.
“Maybe we can just call my sister and my niece and you can talk to them.”
That alone would have been a nice gesture.
“Go ahead. Make the call.”
He handed me his cell phone.
I called Beverly, and told her Pac wanted to talk to Lemika.
“She wasn’t home from school yet, and I asked him if he could call back in twenty minutes,”
“He called back exactly twenty minutes later.””I was shocked,”
“I didn’t think I’d get to talk to Tupac, but Uncle Frank had pub.”
Everybody in the house was crying. I could hear it in the background. Lemika had been having a really hard time, and he
made her feel so much better.
“She was walking on clouds,”
As soon as Tupac hung up the phone with her, he asked me what size clothes she wore. I told him I didn’t know, and he told
me to call Yaasmyn at his office, and give her my sister’s phone number and have them send Lemika anything and everything
that she wants.
Mind you, he’d never met her, it was the first time they had spoken, and he was doing this out of the kindness of his heart.
My family was floored. But it gets better.
My family flew into California, and Tupac invited them, to the set of Gridlock’d. He told them to take all the pictures they wanted,
and he gave Lemika a blanket that belonged to him. He used that blanket every day on the set and she clung to it.
“I nearly caught hell when I washed it,”
“She had spilled something on it , and I put it in the washing machine. I thought she was never gonna forgive me.”
There was a whole crew of people. The kids each had a friend along, and her husband brought a buddy of his. Pac was so cool.
He wasn’t bothered at all. He even invited them to a barbecue at his house, and when he found out my brother-in-law, William,
played basketball, he ordered an entire basketball court down to the set. They took a million pictures. Believe it or not, it gets even better.
Tupac invited them all down to the studio the next day. He had some recording to do. At the studio, they got to meet Snoop Dogg,
Danny Boy, Kurupt, and everybody who was working for Death Row that day.
“It was my husband’s friend’s birthday,”
“And Tupac told us to order anything we wanted to eat, have whatever we wanted to drink, anything we wanted.”
Pac ordered about ten pizzas.
I have most of the time we spent in the studio on videotape, and every now and then, i watch the tape again. Pac’s got a joint dangling
from his lips most of the time, dressed casually in a button-down silk shirt and white pants. To watch him is to remember how damn
funny he was.
At one point, one of the runners, James, walked in wearing a tank-top jersey, and Pac starts clowning him about a Chinese-looking
tatto he’s got on his arm.
“Nigga’s gettin’ Chinese letters like he’s been somewhere, shit, you ain’t never left the block.”
Pac points to the tattoo and looks dead in the camera.
“You know what this says? ‘Two egg rolls with hot sauce, to go.'”
Everybody in the studio started cracking up, and you can hear my voice saying,
“Pac, you missed your calling. Shoulda been a comedian.”
A couple minutes later Pac hears Lemika calling me “Frankie,” and he starts clwoning me.
“Frank-E, Frank-E Knuckles. I’m gonna call him Frank-E, now, cuz the ‘E’ is for Extra Sexy!”
He starts singing to the tune of the Right Said Fred song, called “Catwalk.”
“Frank-E’s too sexy for some sleeves, too sexy for some pants…”
Man, he was funny that day, and everybody had a great time. He even put Lemika’s voice on one of the tracks.
“She gave Hanover Park, the area where she’s from, a shout-out,”
“We all couldn’t believe it. When it was time to leave,
he came outside with us and gave us all hugs, like we were family.”
Before they left, Tupac gave Lemika his driver’s license. It was just about to expire, his birthday is June 16, and he wanted to give her
something special. I didn’t know about this until about a year later, but before they all left the studio that day, Tupac told William I was
like a brother to him, and my family was his family.
“Everything he did for us came out of a love for Frankie,”
“He told me when we were at the studio, that him and Frankie were like brothers, and the love he had for Frank flowed over to us.”
I cried when I heard that, because I always felt like he had a special place in his heart for me, but until William told me what Pac said,
I didn’t know he ever voiced how he felt. Pac wasn’t that kind of man, and neither am I.
I still get choked up thinking about the love he showed my family. For everything you read about Pac in the tabloids, he had a beautiful heart
and he shared it with those he loved.
“This man was nothing like they say he was,”
“He couldn’t do enough for us. He had plans to donate a stereo system
to Lemika’s high school. He told her he was going to bring something back from Italy, and he told her just to hang in there and be strong,
that he’d never forget about her. He even said he was going to put her in his next video, and that it was going to be a children’s video.
I believe he meant it.”
Everything had worked out better than they could have hoped for.
“We weren’t even guaranteed a half hour with Janet Jackson, and Tupac spent two days with us, that we’ll never forget,”
I remember Beverly telling me that Lemika once spent an afternoon crying when she found out Janet Jackson collapsed onstage somewhere.
Before the Make-A-Wish incident, her fondness for Janet was deep. Now, the pictures she has on her wall have been replaced with pictures of Tupac.
Till this day, Lemika gets so mad when she hears something negative about Pac.
“Television only shows the bad side of him,”
“That’s not the Tupac I met. I got to know him as a person, and he was a beautiful person.”
Now, she has one final wish.
“I wish I could talk to him in heaven right now,”
“I’d tell him I love him, and I want to thank him for all the
kindness he showed me and my family.”
After they left to go back to Chicago, I realized if everyone on this earth had the chance to spend a couple days with him and see that side of him,
the public perception of Pac would have changed considerably. To be sure, he was complicated, but he was essentially a good person.
Now it’s too late…