On 20th anniversary of Tupac's death, a look back at his days in Baltimore
BALTIMORE (WBFF) -- On September 13, 1996 rapper and poet Tupac Shakur died in a Las Vegas hospital, after being wounded in a drive-by shooting six days before.
He was 25-years-old.
FROM THE ARCHIVES: FOX45 takes at look at Tupac Shakur's time in Baltimore; this story originally aired on September 13, 2013.
While no one remembers exactly how Tupac Shakur ended up auditioning at Baltimore School for the Arts, his performance as Walter Lee from Raisin in the Sun was unforgettable.
As the new school year started, Donald Hicken saw for himself just how talented Tupac was, especially as a rapper.
"Rap was a relatively new phenomenon and the kids were writing these raps at night and then bringing them in and sharing them," said Hicken. "This was in the days before social networking so they couldn't share them any other way. In homeroom in the morning they would sit in a circle on the floor and take turns reading, or reciting, or performing what they had written the night before. He was very involved in that."
Becky Mossing was in that class, a safe haven for students to offer expression.
"It was the most amazing thing to watch him put ideas and phrases together like that, you knew he was special and that he was going to go somewhere with that," said Mossing -- and those memories of a friend still come to mind.
"I think about who he was when we were here together, the kind of kid he was, that to me is far more important than any of the things that transpired after."
For three years Tupac attended the Baltimore School for the Arts. For former teachers and friends it's here in Baltimore where many say he was shaped as an artist.
"The environment I think really nurtured him artistically on a lot of levels," said Hicken, who noted that Tupac was also an extraordinary actor.
"I had great plans for him, for his senior year," said Hicken. "He was heartbroken about it, he didn't want to go. In fact he teared up a little bit when he came into my office to tell me he was leaving."
Even though teachers had secured a host family for Tupac to live with his senior year the teen decided to stay with his own family and move to California.
As Tupac's career began to take off he would still come back and visit.
"He was trying so hard to maintain the relationships with people who loved and cared about him," said Mossing.
For Mossing, who returned to Baltimore School for the Arts as a teacher, its not the day Tupac died she holds onto, but rather the memories of her high school friend --- the teen she quietly watched stare off into the woods of her parents' backyard and wondered what he was thinking.
"I didn't ask, it wasn't for me to disturb," said Mossing. "I do remember that you could see those wheels turning in his head, writing a poem, thinking about his life, I don't know."