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April 29, 2013
Recollections and a nickname are what Naijiel Hale has to remember his father, the rapper Nate Dogg whose untimely passing more than two years ago serves as motivation for the 2014 cornerback.
"Skybox" was the moniker given to the Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco standout by his father and it serves as a reminder that in death as in life, dad is watching from above.
Hale, who uses @YoungNateDogg as his Twitter handle, said the nickname keeps him connected to his dad and that he knows his dad is watching out for and protecting him.
"I know I'm making him happy," Hale said. "When he was around he always told me, (Naijiel's) nickname was Skybox for him, and he said if he was alive or dead he would be watching me play in the league in the skybox.
"That's why I go by Skybox. People know me by that. That was my nickname playing for Snoop coming up. I just basically go off that every day. Before our players come in, I just say skybox or whatever to get some motivation."
Hale is not the only son of a famous rapper shining on Los Angeles high school football fields. Cordell Broadus is a 2015 wide receiver from Diamond Bar, Calif., whose father is Snoop Lion, aka Snoop Dogg.
The two fathers collaborated in the music industry. The sons are on the same 7-on-7 team -- the Snoop Dogg All-Stars -- and are surefire Division I football players. The fathers made music in sold-out stadiums. The sons will be playing football in them.
Since Hale plays on arguably the state's best football team heading into next season, it's almost assured his recruitment will pick up even more.
Broadus still has two years of high school remaining and already his recruitment has taken off. USC recently offered the 6-foot-3, 186-pound prospect who also has offers from Cal, Duke, Oregon State, UCLA and Washington.
Snoop Lion is an accomplished rapper, but he's also an involved father and there's no doubt he's doling out advice to his son -- who's listening to every word.
"I'm blessed and happy at the same time," Broadus said. "I'm just a sophomore and I'm getting this much recognition. I want to give a big thanks to my quarterback because without them this wouldn't be possible because they're throwing me the ball and also my O-linemen.
"I have two years to think but I've been thinking about it a little bit. I want to go where it's best for me and that could be East Coast, West Coast, the South. It could be anywhere. I'm just waiting patiently to figure out where I want to go.
"My dad just tells me not to worry about things too much. He tells me to stay humble and keep working. That's the main thing."
Hale and Broadus go through their daily lives as the sons of famous rappers but both say they don't think about it much. It's a story line, something interesting for fans, but they're so used to the fame, the lifestyle that it's become commonplace. They really are just normal kids, teammates like everyone else.
When the Snoop All-Stars played in a recent 7-on-7 tournament in Las Vegas, Snoop Lion was on the sidelines with a security detail, signing autographs and taking pictures. During his son's game, though, he was cheering on the team and badgering the refs a little, too.
Just like any concerned parent.
This has been life for Broadus, so having a famous father is not a big deal. It's all he knows.
"I just do my own thing," Broadus said. "I don't give it attention at all. I'm just working and bonding with my team right now trying to get ready for this season, so I'm not really interested in that attention at all.
"That's been going on for a while. I'm used to it. I've been Snoop Dogg's kid for many years but I'm trying to go in my own lane and make a name for myself with this football thing."
The same goes for Hale although the circumstances are a little different since his father has passed away.
Getting recognition and publicity is sometimes easier, Hale said, because his name is forever tied to Nate Dogg. That said, he embraces it. The St. John Bosco standout will forever be the son of a rapper, but he's also trying to make his own way in the world.
"It can get tough at times but overall it's easier," Hale said. "It helps me get more publicity than I would get and I really don't look at it like that too much. I just go off who I am and I don't brag about it or anything. I don't even know how some people find out. It's just who I am."
That's just who he is, nothing more. A kid trying to play big-time college football while remembering the lessons his father taught him.
"There were many speeches I got," Hale said.
"He always told me when he was gone everything was going to belong to me and my brother and how we hold it down and react to it is important. I take that into serious consideration and I'm living through that. I'm doing what he would do and what he would want me to do."