Robert Hoobler, the New Orleans police officer who saved Lil Wayne’s life, dies at 65.
The New Orleans cop helped save Lil Wayne’s life when the future rapper shot himself at age 12. Known as Uncle Bob by the rapper, Robert Hoobler was found dead in his Old Jefferson home on Friday. No official cause of death has yet to be revealed, but according to his grandson, Daniel Nelson, Hoobler had suffered from health issues for years after a car accident. He also struggled with diabetes, for which doctors had amputated his legs.
Hoobler’s friend and former coworker at the police department, David Lapene, said Lil Wayne’s account of Hoobler saving his life 27 years ago is “one of the best stories that depicts Hoobler as a person.”
“He was always people forward,” says Lapene. “He took care of the public just as much as he took care of the cops.”
Lil Wayne, born Dwayne Carter Jr., was handling a 9mm pistol in his mother’s apartment in Hollygrove on November 11, 1994, when he shot himself in the chest. Whether or not it was an accident varies depending on the rapper’s different versions of the story.
Hoobler, off-duty at the time, heard the police radio report and drove to the scene, as did five other officers. Because no ambulance was available, the ranking officers ordered Hoobler to rush the boy to the hospital.
Officer Kevin Balancier backed a police car into the apartment driveway and opened the door. Hoobler carried the future rapper to the back seat and laid him across his lap as they sped to the closest emergency room at Ochsner Medical Center. One officer blocked traffic at major intersections on the way.
“Stay awake, son. You’re going to be fine. You’ll see,” Hoobler spoke to Lil Wayne during the trip and shook him to keep him conscious.
Once they arrived, Balancier opened the door for Hoobler, who put Dwayne on a gurney before medical personnel wheeled him away. Hoobler then went to the hospital restroom to wash off what blood he could. Much of his shirt was now tinted a dark red.
Lil Wayne has recounted the story more than once in interviews. In one account, the rapper said that as a Black man, he never knew racism because of Hoobler — Uncle Bob — a white man who helped save his life.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Lil Wayne says in his Instagram post following Hoobler’s passing. “I was dying when I met u at this very spot. U refused to let me die.”
Hoobler worked at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office in 2009 after retiring from the Police Department. In 2012, he was fired and charged with malfeasance in office for shooting a man with a stun gun whom he was arresting. Hoobler took a plea deal and served probation, later receiving a pardon because it was his first offense. He later worked at Rock & Roll Towing in Kenner, Louisiana.