Tupac’s Mom Afeni Shakur Started an Annual Birthday Ritual for Him After His Death

As hip-hop creeps closer and closer toward its own 50-year anniversary, legends like Tupac are celebrated on their birthdays. Though the rapper died in 1996 at age 25, June 16, 2021 marks what would have been his 50th birthday. Before her death in 2016, Afeni Shakur found multiple ways to honor her son Tupac, and one of them included a yearly tradition with lasting effects.

Tupac Shakur at the 1996 MTV VMAs
Tupac Shakur at the 1996 MTV VMAs | Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Afeni Shakur planted roots for Tupac each year

Tupac fans are taking time to wish the late artist happy birthday, and it’s worth reflecting on his family ties. His mother Afeni Shakur protected and maintained his legacy up until her death in May 2016, and even started a foundation in his name.

In 2004, Jasmine Guy published Afeni Shakur: Evolution of a Revolutionary. Guy was one of Shakur and Tupac’s trusted confidantes, and she spent one-on-one time with Afeni to create the memoir. When she visited the rapper’s mom in her Stone Mountain, Georgia home to conduct one of her interviews, Shakur spoke about the special birthday tradition they observed for Tupac.

Shakur pointed out to Guy where she planted trees for her grandchildren, her niece, and Tupac. “Nzingha wanted a pine tree. So, that’s her tree right there. That one is Imani’s. And Leeki [Malik], he wanted a fruit-bearing tree. This one’s his and look … there’s some fruit. We plant a tree for Tupac on his birthday every year. Either here or on the farm,” she explained.

At the time, Shakur owned a farm in Lumberton, North Carolina where she grew produce and gave it away to the locals. She spent some of her childhood in the town, and in later years, came back and bought property. Sadly, Shakur lost the house in a fire in 2007.

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Tupac trees are still standing in Georgia

Following Afeni Shakur’s death in 2016, her daughter Sekyiwa took over most of the estate’s business, including the home in Georgia. Though it’s unclear whether any of Tupac’s family members live in the house, it’s reasonable to believe the trees are still standing.

Shakur was a beloved member of the community. After the Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts shut down, the new owner pledged to keep the rapper’s memory alive on the property. That included keeping its memorial “Peace Garden” intact. Shakur set plants in the earth herself when it first opened. one of several places in the country where there are pieces of flora dedicated to Tupac.

Jada Pinkett Smith paid tribute to Tupac on his birthday

Jada Pinkett Smith, who was close to both Tupac and Afeni Shakur, also paid homage to her dear friend for his birthday. She posted one of the poems he gave to her titled “Lost Soulz” on social media. Pinkett Smith praised his skills as a wordsmith and reminded fans that he was also a prolific poet.

She captioned her post by writing, “Tupac Amaru Shakur would’ve been 50 midnight tonight! As we prepare to celebrate his legacy … let’s remember him for that which we loved most … his way with words.” To celebrate, fans can stream Tupac’s music on Spotify and Amazon, or get into the spirit by planting a tree.