BELLFLOWER, Calif. — St. John Bosco cornerback Naijiel Hale considers himself a regular kid with regular struggles — and it wasn’t always easy to convey growing up.
There was a belief that he had it made as the son of Nathaniel Hale, also known as the late hip hop singer, Nate Dogg. People thought he had it easy and Hale admits growing up he had “two different lives.”
Being around his father on weekends, he spent plenty of that time in big houses and fancy cars. With his dad, Hale could pretty much get whatever he wanted. When he was with his mother during the week, his accommodations were much more standard.
Football came into his life at the age of eight. The artist formerly known as Snoop Dogg asked his mother if he could play. She didn’t give her permission at first.
Hale didn’t get the green light until dad stepped in.
“My dad loved (the idea) so he was like it was probably a good idea and I just started from there,” Hale recalls.
The success wasn’t immediate. Hale admits he struggled at first and he was still very much involved with his first love — basketball. However, the more he played, the more success he had in football.
“It was just in me,” Hale said about the game.
His dad saw it in him too. The two of them discussed what it would be like when Hale made it big in the game of football. His dad loved watching Hale play and he loved playing for his dad.
The game of football also allowed Hale to make a name for himself. He couldn’t get by on the football field just because his father was Nate Dogg. It allowed him to be more than just Nate Dogg’s son.
“Never Leave Me Alone”
Hale remembers the day. He was a freshman at Lakewood High School and it was the same day as his basketball banquet. He was over his grandmother’s house when he received a call from his cousin.
“I think your dad just died,” his cousin told him.
Hale’s father had been in the hospital after suffering multiple strokes.
Hale was in a state of disbelief — the singer known around the world as Nate Dogg was dead at the age of 41.
The date was March 15, 2011.
To this day, Hale never feels left alone. He still has his father’s music and at times, Hale feels his father’s presence.
“To this day I catch vibes as if he could be telling me something or just think about what would he say about something and take that into deep consideration,” Hale said.
The lyrics read:
Please let me know And if you wanna roll Just give me a call And I …I’ll be there
This is yet, another song of Hale’s father that he can go to in order to lift his spirits. It’s a song that allows him to not only remember his father but also think about his mom and all she’s done for him.
“It’s something smooth and I can always go to my mom if I have a problem or something,” Hale said.
If you talk to St. John Bosco head coach Jason Negro, he’ll tell you Hale has his days coping with the death of his father. He also has a strong support group around him that includes football and, of course, his mom.
“Ain’t No Fun”
While the lyrics may not be fit for this website, the song continues to be a popular one. It appeared on Snoop Dogg’s debut album and featured rappers Warren G, Kurupt, and Nate Dogg.
For Hale, it’s his favorite song by his father and on that no matter where he his or who he’s around, if he utters some of the lyrics, someone else will be there to finish it. The song started a path to Nate Dogg being one of the greatest collaborators of his generation.
His music will last forever.
Hale, meanwhile, is building his own legacy on the gridiron. He’s committed to the University of Arizona and considered one of the top cornerbacks in the country.
After his father passed, Hale initially contemplated giving up the game of football. After some deliberation and talking to family members, he decided to stick with it. Hale decided he could use the pain of his father’s death and turn it into motivation.
“I can take this and do what my dad would do if he was here and start making moves that my dad would want me to make and he would want me to keep playing because he (saw) the future,” Hale said.