John Singleton remembered as ‘a huge treasure’

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LOS ANGELES — Oscar-nominated film director John Singleton was being remembered this week for capturing the soul and spirit of his native South Los Angeles in the gritty “Boyz n the Hood,” and other films he wrote and directed.

Singleton died April 29 after being removed from life support at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

“John passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family and friends,” according to a statement released by the family’s publicist. “We want to thank the amazing doctors at Cedars-Sinai hospital for their expert care and kindness and we again want to thank all of John’s fans, friends and colleagues for all of the love and support they showed him during this difficult time.”

Singleton’s family announced earlier that they had made the “agonizing decision” to remove him from life support. By early afternoon, Singleton had died at age 51.

According to various media reports, Singleton suffered a stroke earlier this month at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he had gone complaining of leg pain.

Singleton, who also directed “Poetic Justice,” “Higher Learning,” “2 Fast 2 Furious” and the 2000 remake of “Shaft,” grew up in South Los Angeles, attended USC and produced the A&E documentary “L.A. Burning: The Riots 25 Years Later.”

He also co-created the FX series “Snowfall,” about the 1980s crack cocaine epidemic in Los Angeles. Its third season is scheduled to begin later this year.

But it was Singleton’s directorial debut with “Boyz n the Hood,” for which he also wrote the screenplay, that defined his career. Singleton received Oscar nominations for best director and best original screenplay. He was the first African American ever nominated for the best-director Oscar, as well as being the youngest-ever nominee in the category.

Thomas Schlamme, president of the Directors Guild of America, said that with “Boyz n the Hood,” Singleton “exploded into Hollywood, our culture and our consciousness with such a powerful cinematic depiction of life in the inner city.”

A floral wreath was placed on Singleton’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame the day after his death.

Ana Martinez, the producer of the Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremonies, said, “We lost a huge treasure.” “John Singleton was a great director. … He was only 51 years old. It was a great loss. … He opened the door for many young filmmakers, men, women, African-American filmmakers.”

Ellis Baird, who called himself a Singleton fan, was there as the floral wreath was placed by Martinez.

“‘Boyz n the Hood’ is my favorite John Singleton movie,” he said. “It was good at that point in time. It was a good story to tell. He was a talented man and I really liked the movie.”

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters referred to Singleton as a friend for more than two decades.

“John was passionate about our community, and whenever there was a need in South Los Angeles, I could count on John to be there,” Waters said in a statement. “He would regularly visit with me in my office and I will cherish the many memories we shared over the years.

“There is perhaps no other filmmaker in history that has so artfully chronicled the story and spirit of South Los Angeles as John Singleton,” Waters added. “I am among the millions of people around the world who are mourning the loss of this iconic and once in a generation creative talent. I extend my heartfelt sympathy to his parents, children, relatives and friends.”

U.S. Rep. Karen Bass took to Twitter to comment on Singleton’s death.

“John Singleton made sure to tell our stories on the big screen in an authentic way that only someone from where he’s from could tell, all the while ensuring that our community benefitted,” Bass tweeted. “By doing so, he changed Hollywood forever, as well as South L.A.”

In a statement released by her office, Bass added: “John made sure that his films depicting South Los Angeles were filmed on those actual streets with members of that actual community holding starring roles and when he became successful, John made sure that it was the community that benefitted both culturally and financially.”

“John grew up in South Central L.A. with a love of cinema that showed itself early on,” his family’s statement said. “He went on to become one of the most lauded graduates of the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

“Within months of graduating, John returned to South Central to shoot his debut feature, ‘Boyz n the Hood.’ The movie, which was unusually shot in sequence, masterfully captured a story of friendship, youth and the peril of hard choices in a community marred by gang violence.”

The family noted that Singleton took pride in providing opportunities to new talent, including Tupac Shakur, Regina King, Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson.

“One of the greatest ever to do it,” King wrote on her Instagram page. “Thank you God for blessing us with this gift better known as John Singleton. Having trouble finding enough words to share just what you mean to me. Will always love you John! Your spirit will forever shine bright.”

“Like many African Americans, Singleton quietly struggled with hypertension,” the family’s statement said. “More than 40% of African-American men and women have high blood pressure, which also develops earlier in life and is usually more severe. His family wants to share the message with all to please recognize the symptoms by going to Heart.org.”

Singleton is survived by his mother, Sheila Ward; his father, Danny Singleton; and his children Justice, Maasai, Hadar, Cleopatra, Selenesol, Isis and Seven.

The family said details about memorial services will be provided at a later date.

Contributing writer Kristina Dixon also contributed to this story.

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