Takeoff’s ‘Celebration of Life’ Draws Family, Friends and Fans to Memorial in Atlanta
On Nov. 11, 10 days after his murder, Kirsnick Khari Ball – better known as Takeoff, a co-founder of the rap trio Migos – was memorialized in a “Celebration of Life” at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta. The event was attended by friends, fans, family members and music industry peers. Fellow artists Drake and Justin Bieber were part of the service, with Migos members Quavious “Quavo” Marshall and Kiari “Offset” Cephus offering emotional speeches to the capacity crowd of 21,000 people.
Outside the arena, a large sign with a photo of the rapper in his signature sunglasses had the message “Celebrating the life of Takeoff” lit up in his name. The service was officiated by Senior Pastor Jesse Curney III (who also provided the eulogy) of New Mercies Christian Church with Bieber, Chloe Bailey, Yolanda Adams, Byron Cage and the New Mercies Choir performing as part of the memorial. Fan attendees were able secure a maximum of two free tickets each through Ticketmaster.
Mourners at Takeoff’s “Celebration of Life” were made to lock up their phones in Yondr bags before entering, as a strict no-photo or video policy was in place, and members of the media were not permitted to attend. Takeoff’s family asked that in lieu of bringing flowers or gifts to the celebration, donations should be made to the Rocket Foundation established to support programs preventing gun violence.
Lawrenceville, GA-born Takeoff was shot and killed at age 28 on Nov. 1 in Houston at 810 Billiards & Bowling. The shooting followed an argument that involved Migos’ Quavo, Takeoff’s uncle (Migos’ third member, Offset, is a cousin to Takeoff, and attended the Atlanta memorial with his wife, Cardi B). Though Atlanta police have identified several people of interest, so far no arrests have been made in Takeoff’s murder.
Thursday, the New York Post printed surreptitious photos showing Cardi B, Offset and Quavo being spotted for the first time after Takeoff’s passing, entering an SUV headed to a family. Prior to this, Migos was in a transitional period with Offset pursuing solo projects, leaving Takeoff and Quavo to release their collaborative album “Only Built for Infinity Links” this October. Before the “Celebration,” Quavo had not made any official statement regarding his nephew’s passing, but Offset did post a tribute on Instagram by changing his profile picture to one of Takeoff.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported this morning that many of the service’s fan attendees came to the State Farm Arena before its doors opened at 11 a.m. on the rainy Friday, and offered words of shock, sadness and familiarity about the late rapper. Other fans were snapped showing off bags of Migos’ Rap Snacks Wavy “Bar-B-Quin’ with My Honey” Chips.
Early in the afternoon, celebrants such as culture reporter NuFace snapped photos of the cover of the “Celebration” program, found at Vibe magazine, while DJ Akademiks and rapper Da Brat posted respectful videos from outside State Farm Arena on their respective Instagrams. Along with Mayor Andre Dickens presenting Takeoff with the Phoenix Award, the highest honor in the city of Atlanta, other notable guests in attendance were Cardi B (Offset’s wife), and fellow artists including Gucci Mane, Rich the Kid, members of City Girls, Cee-Lo Green, YG, Murda Beatz, Mustard, Lil Yachty, Teyana Taylor and hip-hop entrepreneur Russell Simmons.
The two remaining Migos rappers, Offset and Quavo, reportedly had the crowd in tears talking about Takeoff as family, with Quavo remembering their youth of getting in trouble listening to the Hot Boyz and performing at talent shows. NuFace was also quoted on Twitter as stating that Offset was hardly able to speak during his time on stage, offering little beyond “I love you brother, I’m sorry,” to his fallen nephew. Takeoff’s official obituary is as follows:
Kirsnik Khari Ball June 18, 1994-November 1, 2022
Kirsnick “Takeoff” Khari Ball, 28, of Atlanta left us on November 1, 2022, after an untimely incident took him decades before his time. Kirsnick (or Takeoff, as fans, friends and family alike all called him) was a most gentle soul, with a peace about him alongside a wise demeanor far beyond his years. Endearing and impressive both on stage and in private life, Takeoff commanded respect wherever his path took him from musicians, family, industry and peers alike.
What mattered most to Takeoff was his family and he was known to spread real love to all the lives of everyone who knew him. The beloved son of Titania “Treet” Davenport and Kenneth Ball, Takeoff (or Kirsnick) was the most loving grandson of Edna Marshall and most devoted nephew and artistic collaborator of Quavious “Quavo” Marshall. He is survived by siblings Ezekiel Davenport and Heaven Davenport, Aunt Kashara Reed and numerous cousins.
He was an amazing talent who led an extraordinary life; from being a kid growing up in Gwinnett County making music in his Grandma’s basement to performing worldwide on arena tours with hundreds of thousands of screaming fans paying witness to his lyrical prowess in any given year. He was a critical darling with press often touting him as a great lyricist and rapper of our time and a fan favorite. His deep bond with his Uncle Quavious Marshall known to the world as simply “Quavo ” carried them from childhood family members to profound musical partners in the super group Migos alongside childhood friend Kiari “Offset” Cephus. Migos changed music as we know it and shifted the style of rap for almost a decade after their first viral hit and their unique uses of adlibs and word play.
Takeoff’s contribution to the culture through Migos and beyond with his own solo album and recent critically heralded album with Quavo is a part of music history with chart topping hits, rave reviews, television moments, Billboard chart #1s, and billions of streams of music. Takeoff and crew went from internet viral up & comers in the basement to chart topping artists donning the cover of Rolling Stone and Grammy nominations.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Takeoff attended Berkmar High School in Gwinnett County and had been vocal that when they were all playing sports (Quavo and Offset) he was training to be a rapper. One sweet school days anecdote before the rap acclaim was winning the 4th grade spelling bee! All he ever wanted to be was a rapper- it was his singular goal and he achieved it in a monumental way. He always loved music, rapping, all things space and watching films and TV series. On a human level it was simple: When Takeoff smiled you just thought everything was going to be OK. He was a deep thinker and it would show up in conversations and veiled in rap lyrics. Takeoff’s biggest passion in life was music, and all he ever wanted to do was leave a mark and have a legacy that lasted for decades as he once told Complex magazine during an interview for a cover story.
His Mom Treet used to play him all the Hip Hop she loved and from the time he could crawl he would head to the speakers and pull himself up to dance and move to the bass. From a young child he was always intent on being a rapper with his favorites being Lil Wayne and all the Cash Money crew. His curiosity and love of rappers was immense and he’d keep up on every artist coming out from the underground to big stars, always grinding through Youtube looking at everyone’s videos. If you were an artist who had a video out then Takeoff saw it! He was a true and deep fan of Hip Hop and remained a student of it til his last day even when considered a master himself by so many.
Notable moments in his short but massively seminal career: over 17 billion streams, two albums debuted at #1 on Billboard Charts and remained in Top 10 for 21 weeks, global hit “Bad and Boujee” #1 breaking records worldwide,a global arena tour alongside Drake, two performances on the legendary Saturday Night Live aka SNL, a hilarious Carpool Karaoke with James Corden viewed over 61 million times, gracing the cover of Rolling Stone to headlining festivals worldwide. The impact of his group Migos remains profound. In the last many months of his life, Takeoff turned to writing and recording with Quavo to create their joint album “Only Built For Infinity Links” which came out to much critical acclaim and kicked off by a performance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. The campaign was just beginning and plans to tour and spread the music globally were in play.
There are no words or sentiments conveyed that could aptly encompass the love so many had for him and the impact he made on this world. Takeoff would want the world to see the light in what he created and keep lifting each other up and supporting the creations people put into the world. He’s now up with there with the stars he loved so much and remains in all our ethers on a daily basis living on through his music and the love he brought to so many.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to The Rocket Foundation: https://www.rocket-foundation.org/