Deion Sanders and the Jackson State Tigers will honor slain rapper Young Dolph by naming its entrance tunnel after the self-proclaimed “King of Memphis.”
The tunnel at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium will now be called the “Paper Route Tunnel,” in honor of the Paper Route Empire founder and CEO.
Rap and sports have a unique connection, and this is no different. Dolph pulled up on the Tigers for their 28-7 homecoming win over SWAC foe Alabama State. He then partook in a postgame celebration for the ages in the Tigers locker room.
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) October 17, 2021
Dolph’s attendance at JSU’s homecoming was one of the rapper’s final public appearances, before he was shot and killed in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, in November.
Dolph Shot And Killed In Memphis
Dolph was ambushed and shot to death as he bought cookies at a bakery he frequented. According to findings from the West Tennessee Regional Forensic Center, Dolph, born Adolph Thornton Jr., was shot 22 times in the hail of gunfire, in his left chest, left abdomen, right chin, right neck, right shoulder, both arms and multiple times in his back.
News of the attack spread fast, as many sent out well-wishes to Dolph and his family. Deion Sanders sent a special message to family of the rapper:
“I hope to God these rumors ain’t true about my friend, my brother and a man dear to my sons. Lord help us as a people to stop the hate, the violence and the hopelessness. When we realize we matter others will as well. Lord help us right now.”
Dolph’s death sent shock waves through the rap, sports and entertainment world. The senseless killing took away another Black man, who was a father, fiancé, son, brother, nephew and community philanthropist.
In a speech to his team after Dolph’s death, Sanders talked candidly about his fallen friend.
“We lost a warrior today, man. We lost a true dog. We lost someone’s father, someone’s son, someone’s man, someone’s friend, some of y’all’s homie in Young Dolph, man. The game right here of life is real, man. Not everyone’s happy about your success. Not everyone’s happy about your come-up. Not everyone’s happy about your prosperity and how you walk, talk — even you carry yourself. Even what we’re going here. Not everyone’s happy about that.
“So understand your environment and who you’re around and be cautious and be careful about that, man. Don’t take nothing and nothing around for granted. We lost a good man today, man. I knew him personally. Who had so much love and compassion — and the way he came in and embraced all y’all and treated y’all like was homies, man. So let’s have a small moment of silence.”
Tigers (@GoJSUTigersFB) QB Shedeur Sanders (@ShedeurSanders) played in cleats in the #SoulBowl that featured the late rapper Young Dolph who was shot and killed in Memphis on Wednesday. pic.twitter.com/ZBUIxyPWdJ
— Wilton C. Jackson II (@WiltonReports) November 20, 2021
Sanders And JSU Dedicated Season To Dolph
Sanders repeatedly stated the admiration he, his sons and team had for Young Dolph. In wake of his death, the team dedicated the remainder of the season to him. They didn’t disappoint either. Under the direction of Sanders and playing with a purpose beyond wins and losses the Tigers embarked on a historic season.
The program won its first SWAC title since 2007, posted its first-ever 11-win season and had an appearance in its first Celebration Bowl.
Sanders was named the Eddie Robinson Award winner given annually to the top coach in FCS (Football Championship Subdivision), and son Shedeur was named the Jerry Rice Award winner, given annually to the top freshman in FCS. During the magical run the team had its share of stars stop down in Jackson.
Dolph was one of those many stars, as the connection with rap music and sports continues to resonate.