Jada Pinkett Smith Reflects on Her Friendship with Tupac Shakur: What Broke Them Apart

Jada Pinkett Smith and Tupac
Jada Pinkett Smith revealed to Howard Stern on Wednesday, June 3, what broke her friendship with Tupac Shakur in the years leading up to his 1996 murder. Courtesy of Jada Pinkett Smith

All the feels! Nearly 20 years after Tupac Shakur's death, Jada Pinkett Smith revealed in a new interview with Howard Stern on Wednesday, June 3, what broke her intimate friendship with the late rapper before his 1996 murder.

"He was a revolutionary without a revolution if that makes any kind sense," Pinkett Smith, 43, dished on the SiriusXM radio show about Tupac, whom she met in high school at the Baltimore School for the Arts. "And that kind of energy transferred to a whole other thing."

The two stars quickly became best friends — and friends only, according to Will Smith's wife. "You know, it's so funny. Now being older, I have more of an understanding of what that was between us," she reflected of their platonic chemistry. "When you have two young people that have very strong feelings, but there was no physical chemistry between us at all, and it wasn't even just for me! It was him too. There was a time when I was like, 'Just kiss me! Let's just see how this goes.' When I tell you it had to be the most disgusting kiss for us both." 

She reasoned that they just were not meant to be. "The only way I can put it is that the higher power did not want it at all. If Pac and I had any kind of sexual chemistry, we might have killed each other because we were both so passionate. And you know, we loved deeply," she reflected. "It was hard enough with us just being friends. It was volatile relationship."

Together, the two went from rags to riches, literally. "I've had never in my life met a person like Pac. He had so much charisma. And he was poor," she noted of the Harlem native. "When I met Pac, he owned two pairs of pants and two sweaters… He used to tell me all the time. He was like, 'Jada, you're a superstar.' He didn't say it about himself."

She said they both made their ascent to fame together in the '90s. "It really happened for us both at the same time," she shared.

Only their paths diverged. "He went to jail," she recalled. "There was a lot of things that transpired once he went to jail. It was really when he came out. Jail was a very difficult experience for him, and of course, we were on two sides of the spectrum. Pac and I have always had very intense conversations… and we had a very hardcore disagreement."

Pinkett Smith revealed what broke their friendship in their final disagreement before his death. "I just wasn't in agreement with the direction that he was taking, and I told him that, you know, it was a destructive direction. A very scary direction," she said. "And he felt as though I had changed. I'd gone Hollywood. I'd gone soft. And looking back now, I totally understand where Pac was at the time… It was a mentality he started to come out of before he was murdered."

The Gotham actress said she dealt with immense emotion after his murder in Las Vegas. "I don't think I was guilty as much as I felt just sadness, for not having the opportunity to tell him that I loved him," she shared, getting emotional with Stern. "But, I know he knew that. It wasn't the first time that we had had a bad argument and stopped speaking. That was a constant in our relationship."

"It definitely taught me a lesson," she dished. "Which is life is too short. Do not let disagreements stand in between you and people that you love."

Pinkett Smith still thinks about her old friend, even reflecting on her friendship with Shakur on social media. Several years ago, the star shared a photo with her late friend kissing her on the cheek and embracing her in a throwback image. "You know, I love him," she told Stern on Wednesday. "You know what? He left a very strong and powerful mark. People are still inspired by him. So he did his work."

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