Retired New Orleans police officer who saved Lil Wayne as a kid dies at 65

Published: Jul. 23, 2022 at 7:55 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A former New Orleans police officer who saved Lil Wayne after he shot himself in the chest as a kid, has passed away, Jefferson Parish officials said.

Robert Hoobler, 65, was found dead at his home in Jefferson Parish on Friday, said parish coroner Dr. Gerry Cvitanovich. The cause of death has not been disclosed.

Many fans thought the story was apocryphal until 13 years ago when it was confirmed by the ex-cop.

Robert Hoobler (Courtesy: Times-Picayune)
Robert Hoobler (Courtesy: Times-Picayune)

Hoobler met Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. -- who later would become known to the world as Lil Wayne -- on the afternoon of Nov. 11, 1994. At that time, Carter was 12 years old. He had left school early that day and went home to eat, and found a 9mm pistol in one of the bedrooms of his family’s apartment.

According to police reports, the gun had been left there the previous day by a friend of the family who had gone to watch a football game.

Carter picked up the gun and fired a bullet into his chest. He called 911 and crawled to the front door, bleeding as he waited for help.

Hoobler was heading to work an off-duty security detail when he heard the dispatcher on his police radio say there was a boy with a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the Hollygrove neighborhood who needed help.

Hoobler went to Carter’s apartment, knocked and heard a faint cry say, “Help me. I’ve been shot.”

Hoobler kicked in the door and found Carter in a bloodied T-shirt and jeans and called for dispatchers to send an ambulance. None were immediately available, so Hoobler picked up Carter and carried him with another officer to the back of his cruiser and drove him to a hospital.

“Everything happens for a reason,” Wayne wrote in an Instagram post Monday morning. “I was dying when I met u at this very spot. U refused to let me die. Everything that doesn’t happen, doesn’t happen for a reason. That reason being you and faith. RIP uncle Bob. Aunt Kathie been waiting for u. I’ll love & miss u both and live for us all.”

Hoobler recalled the incident in a 2009 interview. He remembered speaking to Carter during the trip to the hospital to keep him awake. When they arrived, Hoobler and another officer put Carter on a gurney and rushed the child to the emergency room.

Hoobler said an ER nurse later told him, “If y’all had waited (for an ambulance) … he would have died.”

Instead, Carter’s life was saved that day by the emergency room staff, and he grew up to become one of the world’s most prominent rap artists, one who has sold more than 120 million records worldwide. He has won five Grammy awards and is chief executive officer of Young Money Entertainment.

“I’m proud of what he’s done,” Hoobler said of Lil Wayne in his 2009 interview. “But I would’ve done the same for the guy no one ever heard about again.”

Lil Wayne never forgot what Hoobler did for him. He and others from his neighborhood gave Hoobler the nickname “Uncle Bob.”

While accepting an award in 2018, Carter recalled recently speaking to Hoobler and thanked him for refusing to let him die.

When nationwide sentiment toward police soured after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis officers in 2020, Lil Wayne said Hoobler’s role in his life made it impossible for him to regard all cops as only capable of brutality.

“My life was saved by a white cop,” the artist said on an episode of his radio show. “So … you have to understand the way I view police.”

Lil Wayne and Hoobler met a few more times over the years. TMZ reported that Lil Wayne offered to employ Hoobler as an administrator for his company. He also claimed that he was willing to financially support Hoobler and his loved ones for life, but Hoobler did not accept the offer.

Hoobler’s law enforcement career came to an end in 2012 when he was fired by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office over shocking a man with a stun gun during an arrest.

According to reports, Hoobler tased Leron Anderson in November 2011 after arresting him on Cohen Avenue in Gretna on an attachment for violating a protection order issued against him.

The sheriff’s office said Hoobler was terminated after Sheriff Newell Normand viewed video from the scene.

Hoobler was charged with malfeasance in office, and spent a year on probation after entering a plea deal. He was later pardoned from the conviction.

Hoobler later lost both legs as the result of a severe vehicle accident. He dedicated his time off to caring for his wife Kathleen, who died last year, and their grandchildren.

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