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'He gave hope to an entire community' | Young Dolph's charity efforts and compassion remembered by educators, mentors

The slain rapper never forgot his roots in south Memphis, providing food, clothing and inspiration to his community.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Across the Bluff City, Memphians are remembering and reflecting the loss of a native son - rapper Young Dolph - shot and killed Wednesday afternoon inside Makeda's Cookies on Airways Boulevard.

The 36-year-old and Hamilton High School graduate - whose real name was Adolph Thornton Jr. - never forgot his background in the 901, giving back to those in need, especially in recent years.

"Young Dolph stayed connected to his roots here in Memphis and we want all of our kids to stay connected to their roots in Memphis," Memphis Athletic Ministries President and CEO Jonathan Torres said. 

RELATED: Fans leave memorials where rapper Young Dolph was killed Wednesday

"He was an entrepeneur, he have hope to an entire community," Former Hamilton High School Principal Michael Bates added.

Bates posted a lengthy Facebook tribute last night to Young Dolph, who taught the rapper in middle school, when he was known as Adolph Thornton Jr.

"He actually did what we wanted to do and he never changed," Bates added.

“Mr. Bates, there is an Adolph Thornton here to see you” As always I welcomed him in! To the world 🌎 he was YOUNG DOLPH,...

Posted by Michael Bates on Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Bates kept in contact with the rapper in later years at Hamilton, where Young Dolph graduated, then spoke in March 2020, telling those assembled: "be true to yourself, be you, true to your family, do onto others."

"He was always pushing kids to look to mentors and to look to those who would push them in the right direction," Torres added.

RELATED: Rapper Young Dolph remembered for giving back to his South Memphis community

He fondly remembered Young Dolph's Thanksgiving turkey giveaways in recent years, where the rapper provided food and served as a role model.

"He was always pushing kids to look to mentors and to look to those who would push them in the right direction," Torres said.

That's why those who worked closely with Young Dolph are remembering the life he lived but also grieving Young Dolph's unfinished legacy.

"It was a huge loss in the sense of, we know what's he given, not only financially but in support and encouragement for our kids," Torres said.

"Scores of young people, I look at the lives he changed in that community, he's made some millionaires in an area that's typically impoverished," Bates said.

RELATED: Reactions pour in about shooting death of Memphis rapper Young Dolph

One Memphis woman, inspired by Young Dolph's charitable giving, launched her own effort in his honor.

Brittney Roberts worked with and knew Young Dolph's mother. She created a social media campaign Wednesday night to buy and donate turkeys to Memphians in need.

As of Thursday morning, Roberts told ABC 24 news she's already secured around 100 donated turkeys and raised hundreds of dollars to buy even more.

"He was a legend, literally, like he was the king of Memphis ultimately, yeah. So many people are donating, giving back in need. The responses are overwhelming, most definitely,” she said.

In honor of Young Dolph's own turkey drives in years past, Roberts is coordinating with volunteers to deliver the donated turkeys she's received house by house.

RELATED: Memphis Police release pictures of suspects in murder of rapper Young Dolph