Fresh off his Pictionary win with host Jimmy Fallon, Big Sean took to The Tonight Show stage to perform “One Man Can Change The World” off his third studio album, Dark Sky Paradise. The rapper dedicated the special performance to the “Best Grandma in the World,” Mildred Virginia Leonard, who he honors in the song.
“If anybody showed me that one person could change the person, one man change the world,” says Big Sean, “…it’s her.”
The Grammy-nominated artist has been open in the last few months about the loss of his grandmother, who died in late 2014. According to the rapper, his grandmother was a female black captain in WWII, one of the first female police officers in Detroit, and also held a master’s degree. He posted on Instagram back in 2014 that she supported him in “every aspect” of his life, including his decision to not attend college.
He ended the inspiring performance by saying, “Hey, look, I grew up in Detroit, Michigan with no major opportunities handed to me with me, my mom, my grandma, my brother. I remember my mom used to always tell me, ‘Man, you could be anything you want. You could create it, you could manifest it.’ So, I know if I can do it, you guys can do it 10 times over.”
My grandma passed away a couple days ago. I haven't said anything to anyone because honestly I feel like she's still here. I definitely can feel her consciousness. Im having a hard time accepting her death, but I must acknowledge my grandma's life, a true hero. She was a black female Captain in World War 2 (one of the 1st), got her degree at West Virginia State University, and her Masters degree at U of M. After school she became a police officer in Detroit, which at the time was very rare for women to be officers in Detroit. Then she became a caring teacher and counselor. She was the best grandma anyone could ever ask for. From the Sunday Dinners, home cooked meals, and how special she made us feel on our birthdays by baking us the cakes we loved most. She put her heart and more into anything she was involved in. She gave as much as she could to her family and the world! She completely made something out of nothing. When I was growing up, there were people interviewing my grandma about her life because she's done and seen so many amazing things. She supported me so much in every aspect and part of my life, even when I went against what was becoming traditional in our family, and didn't go to college to pursue music. She made a better life for me and the rest of my family, and I will forever be grateful I got to know and be loved by such an amazing woman! I'm so proud of her. She was truly a treasure to this world and everyone she came in contact with. She's the reason why I'm so passionate about giving back. Her spirit will live through her family. We miss and love u so much Grandma!