The Truth About Tupac Shakur's Friendship With Jada Pinkett Smith

On an episode of Red Table Talk, actress Jada Pinkett Smith opened up about her friendship with rapper Tupac Shakur, who was one of her closest friends until the rapper's death, reports Cheat Sheet. She mentions their "complex relationship" — a very tight-knit friendship formed while they were at college. But although their relationship was completely platonic, Shakur could be possessive over Smith.

It all started when they met each other at students Baltimore School for the Arts in Maryland in the 1980s, and quickly became friends (via Biography). Shakur wrote poetry and music, and Smith starred in one of Shakur's early music videos. Tupac described his time at the Baltimore School for the Arts as "the freest I ever felt."

In a 2021 Instagram video, Smith shared that Tupac wrote her lots of poems and letters, many of which were never published. Although she keeps most of their communications private, on what would have been Shakur's 50th birthday, she posted an Instagram video of an early draft of a special poem given to her by the rapper.

'It was about survival'

In the Instagram video, Jada Pinkett Smith showed an original concept poem for the song "Lost Souls," which he wrote while incarcerated at Rikers' Island. The poem starts off, "Some say nothing gold can last forever and to believe this I need no proof."

While at school, Smith was a drug dealer, according to Biography, and Tupac Shakur's family had struggled to find stable housing throughout his upbringing. Smith described their struggles, saying, "It was about survival, and it had always been about survival between us," according to Cheat Sheet. Smith says that Tupac could be possessive of her, and played an "older brother" role in her life.

Jada Pinkett Smith is known as an actress, director, and producer, who has most recently starred in "The Matrix Resurrections" (via IMDb). As the producer of Red Table Talk, she frequently shares vulnerable moments from her past with her daughter, Willow Smith, and her mother, Adrienne Banfield-Jones, also known as Gammy, according to IMDb. And when she talks about her relationship with Shakur, Smith can't hold back tears.

An anchor for each other

Smith has talked about Shakur numerous times on episodes of the show. In one 2019 episode of Red Table Talk, she said that he felt that she was his main source of stability during their college years, telling her, "You're the only stability I got, I can't afford for you to put that attention elsewhere." "For him," she said, "it was, we were an anchor for each other. Anytime he felt like that anchor was threatened, oh my God."

Jada Pinkett Smith also discussed their relationship in depth in a 2018 episode of Red Table Talk. She said, "We were pretty much inseparable from the day that we met. When I heard about Pac passing away, I was actually in New York, and I was supposed to be flying to see him. I remember my knees buckling, and Will having to catch me. I was just in total shock."

She continued on, saying, "I've had a lot of loss. So many of my close friends gone, they didn't make it to 30, they didn't make it past 25. A lot of people try to talk about my relationship with Pac and figuring that out. That was a huge loss in my life. Because he was one of those people who I expected to be here."

New beginnings

She then said in the episode of Red Table Talk, "My upset is more anger...Because I feel that he left me. And I know that's not true, and it's a very selfish way to think about it, but I really did believe that he was going to be here for the long run. And so when I think about it, I get really mad. I get mad at God, I get mad at him, I get mad at everybody." Willow Smith, her daughter, added that the current generation considers Tupac "a god."

Jada Pinkett Smith then said that "Loss is a part of life." She went on to say that loss made her feel grateful for the time she had with Tupac and others she's lost, and to find an appreciation for her teenage years. Smith closes out the Red Table Talk session by saying, "Here's to new beginnings, here's to loving friends and family and loved ones that we have lost. Here's to the journey."

Tupac Shakur was shot and killed on September 13, 1996, at just 25 years old, leaving behind a legacy as a brilliant rap artist and actor, according to Biography. Shakur has sold over 75 million albums worldwide, cementing his place among the best-selling artists of all time.