Fans share memories of late Memphis rapper


Young Dolph’s favorite color was blue, and the color appeared on FedExForum Thursday in support of the “Celebration of Life” event in his honor.

Young Dolph, whose first name was Adolph Robert Thornton Jr., was shot dead in Memphis on November 17. Fans gathered on Thursday to celebrate the life and legacy of one of their favorite Memphis rappers.

Melissa Edwards, 26, wore a powder blue crew-neck sweatshirt with matching Jordan 1s. Her shirt read, “Black men deserve to age,” the phrase coined by Dolph’s life partner Mia Jerdine during the campaign she launched in August.

“I know it was his favorite color,” Edwards said. “He loved that all his chains were adorned with blue diamonds. His watches, his grilles. That’s why I chose to wear blue today.”

Although Dolph is widely known for his music, his friends, family, and fans have detailed his impact in Memphis beyond his hit songs.

Melissa Edwards wears a "Black men deserve to grow old" sweatshirt.  December 16, 2021.

YOUNG DOLPH LIFE CELEBRATION:Young Dolph is remembered for his generosity, his commitment to Memphis, as a “man after the heart of God”

YOUNG DOLPH SERVICE DAY:November 17 is now Adolph ‘Young Dolph’ Thornton Jr.’s day of service in Tennessee, Georgia.

Young Dolph fans, left to right, Trashawn Featherson, Jernise Gilcrest and Jeremy Gilcrest came to

Jeremy Gilcrest, 30, attended the memorial service with his cousin and wife. He remembers listening to old Dolph music on CDs and attending a show early in his career where the rapper threw money into the crowd.

“Most of his music was motivating. Every time I listened to it it got me going. Every morning. Everything I wanted to do, it got me going,” Gilcrest said of his favorite song, “Rockin ‘ “.

Many fans seemed to have had personal experiences with Dolph, who grew up in the community of Castalia Heights.

Tay Curry, 38, a resident of Castalia for 25 years, remembers seeing Dolph at a barbershop in East Memphis.

Tay Curry has said he'll see Dolph around 240 and in hair salons.  He said he will remember Dolph as an active member of the Memphis community.  December 16, 2021

“I am here to celebrate his life, his music, the impact he has on the city,” he said. “You kinda always see Dolph. If you drive on 240, you’ll see his camouflage car driving down the street. You see him in South Memphis, Castalia, the barbershops, right in town.”

YOUNG DAUPH AT MEMPHIS:Adolph ‘Young Dolph’ Thornton, Jr. Avenue: Memphis Street Renamed After Rapper Unveiling

HOW YOUNG DOLPH RECEIVED:Young Dolph’s legacy lives on in community outreach and turkey giveaways

Kimmi Randle wears a tie-dye sweatshirt with Dolph's face on it.  Randle said Dolph gave him a congratulatory FaceTime call after his recent kidney transplant.  December 16, 2021

Kimmi Randle, 28, said her favorite memory of Dolph, a friend of her brother’s, is when he gave her a FaceTime to congratulate her after her kidney transplant.

“Young Dolph meant a lot to me just because he knew him personally and became a fan,” she said.

Teon Hollowell, 37, worked in the hospitality industry and remembers running a Hilton hotel where Dolph stayed in Memphis. Due to understaffing, Hollowell had to work at the front desk, for which she said Dolph applauded her.

Teon Hollowell donned an ornate blue outfit.  Hollowell met Dolph while working at a hotel he stayed at while in Memphis.  December 16, 2021

“He was just a really nice person,” she said. “Just a versatile man giving props to a woman of color working in leadership. He really supported that.”

Hollowell, from Orange Mound, also encouraged people their age to do more good in the community. “We need more people in our age group [giving back to the community], and he was an example of that, ”she said.

Astrid Kayembe covers southern Memphis, Whitehaven and Westwood. She can be reached at [email protected], (901) 304-7929 or on Twitter @astridkayembe_.

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