Robert Hoobler, the New Orleans police officer who helped save Lil Wayne’s life when the future rapper shot himself at age 12, has died at age 65, his friends said Saturday.
Hoobler was found dead Friday in his Old Jefferson home, they said. For several years, he suffered from lingering health issues after a car wreck and a struggle with diabetes led doctors to amputate both legs, according to his grandson, Daniel Nelson.
David Lapene, a friend and former coworker at the Police Department, said Lil Wayne’s account of Hoobler and officer Kevin Balancier saving his life 27 years ago is “one of the best stories that depicts Hoobler as a person.”
The rapper, born Dwayne Carter Jr., was handling a 9 mm pistol in his mother’s Hollygrove apartment on Nov. 11, 1994, when he shot himself in the chest. Whether it was an accident depends on when the rapper tells the story.
Hoobler heard the police radio report and, although off duty, drove to the scene, as did five other officers. No ambulance was available, so the ranking officer ordered Hobbler to rush the boy to a hospital.
Pendulum backed a police car into the apartment driveway and opened the cruiser’s door. Hoobler carried Dwayne to the back seat and laid the badly wounded youth across his lap.
Speeding to hospital
One officer blocked traffic at major intersections, and as Dwayne groaned and bled all over Hoobler, Balancier sped to Ochsner Medical Center, the closest emergency room.
Hoobler spoke to Dwayne during the trip and shook him to keep him alert: “Stay awake, son. You’re going to be fine. You’ll see.”
When they arrived, Pendulum opened the door and let Hoobler out. Hoobler put Dwayne on a gurney, and nurses and doctors wheeled him away.
‘Always people forward’
Hoobler went to the restroom at the hospital to wash off what he could. Most of his shirt was tinted dark red.
Lil Wayne has recounted the story in interviews. In one, the Black rapper said he never knew racism because of Hoobler, a White man whom he called “Uncle Bob.”
“He was always people forward,” Lapene said. “He took care of the public just as much as he took care of the cops.”
After retiring from the Police Department, Hoobler started working at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office in 2009. He was fired and charged with malfeasance in office in 2012, for shooting a man he was arresting with a stun gun. He took a plea deal and served probation, and later received a pardon due to being a first offender.
More recently, he had been working at Rock & Roll Towing in Kenner.
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