[This article originally appeared in a 2011 issue of XXL.]

Bill Garland reconnected with his son just 10 months before bullets in Las Vegas separated them forever. Tupac’s father remembers.

Words: Vanessa Satten
Images: Michael Scott Slosar

There were several important male figures in Tupac Shakur’s life. But it wasn’t until he was 23 that he met his biological father. A member of the Jersey City branch of the Black Panther Party in the 1960s, Bill Garland met Afeni Shakur at a strategy officer’s meeting in New York City in 1969. The two had a short affair in 1970, which led to the birth of Tupac, on June 16, 1971—while Afeni was in jail for conspiracies to blow up New York department stores and subway police stations.

Living separately, but around the family for his son’s early childhood, Garland fell out of touch in the mid-’70s and stayed that way for 18 years, until ’Pac was recovering from being shot at New York’s Quad Studios in 1994. After ’Pac’s murder, two years later, Garland sued Afeni for half of the estate, citing, in the lawsuit, her false claim on the death certificate that ’the subject’s father was deceased. Garland lost the case, but a DNA test he took for the hearing confirmed his paternity.

Recently, approaching the 15th anniversary of his son’s death, Bill Garland, now 61, a member of the Jersey City Incinerator Authority and a father of six, visited the XXL offices to talk about Tupac.