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George Floyd (1973–2020), whose death in Minneapolis sparked U.S. protests

by Legacy Staff

George Floyd, a resident of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, died Monday, May 25, 2020 at the age of 46 while in the custody of Minneapolis police officers, which sparked nationwide protests against police brutality. He was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and grew up in Houston, Texas, where he graduated from Jack Yates High School in 1992. He was a member of the basketball team and the state title-winning football team there. At the time of his death, he worked as a security guard at Conga Latin Bistro.

Arrangements for funeral services in Houston are being made by Fort Bend Memorial Planning Center, which has announced a public visitation will be held Monday, June 8 from noon to 6 p.m. at the Fountain of Praise, 13950 Hillcroft Ave. A private funeral will follow on June 9.

The Minneapolis Spokesman-Recorder reports that a public Minneapolis memorial service will be held Thursday, June 4, from 1 to 3 p.m. at North Central University, 1400 Elliot Avenue. In addition, the Fayetteville Observer reports that a public North Carolina memorial service will be held Saturday, June 6 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Cape Fear Conference B Headquarters, 10225 Fayetteville Road, Raeford.

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Floyd’s uncle Selwyn Jones told the Rapid City Journal that Floyd is survived by three children, and that the six-foot-seven “gentle giant” had been a star football and basketball player in high school.

“He was everyone’s favorite everything,” his cousin Tera Brown told TMX.news.

Floyd was a longtime friend of NBA champion basketball player and ESPN analyst Stephen Jackson.

“Floyd was my brother, we called each other twin,” Jackson said in an Instagram post on May 26. In another, Jackson said: “If he needed me, I was there for him… I think he was closer to me than some of my own family.”

Floyd’s partner Courteney Ross told KARE-11 News in Minneapolis: “He was not only the man I loved, but the man I admired. He taught me how to be a better person.”

His childhood friend Christopher Harris told NPR: “If he had a stamp and it had his signature on it, it would be his smile. It literally lit up a room.”

“I want people to know that George Floyd was a caring person,” his Yates High School football and basketball teammate Jonathan Veal told KWTX News 10 in Texas. “His personality and his heart for others was equal or greater to his physical stature, and he always had a heart to give back.”

Floyd is also being mourned by friends from Houston’s hip-hop scene. “He believed in people,” rapper Trae the Truth told Rolling Stone, “to a point it seemed he believed in people more than he even believed in himself.”

“Everybody loved Floyd,” his employer Jovanni Thunstrom of Conga Latin Bistro told KARE-11. “We all have good memories of him.”

See tributes from those who remember George Floyd, and share your condolences, in the Legacy Guest Book.

Update: June 9, 2020

At Floyd’s Minneapolis memorial service, his brother, Philonese Floyd, spoke about how others loved him, saying his brother was “like a general.”

“Every day, he walks outside, there would be a line of people … wanting to greet him, wanting to have fun with him.”

Floyd’s nephew, Brandon Williams, told a story that got to the heart of who Floyd was. After LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers won the 2016 NBA championship, Floyd was so excited that Williams told him it was as if Floyd himself had won.

“We laughed about it, and he said, ‘You know how I feel about LeBron. I did win the championship.’ So, every time we would talk, I would ask him, ‘Hey, how are you doing man, you good?’ And he would say, ‘I feel like I won a championship.’

“And that kind of stuck. It was this inside thing we had. I know with him being the strong person that he was, and seeing everyone coming together, rallying around him and extending all this love and support to our family, we are thankful and grateful, and I know, more than anything, with everybody grieving and hurting, he would want us to feel like we won the championship.”

Floyd’s Minneapolis funeral ended with eight minutes and 46 seconds of silence in his memory.

At Floyd’s visitation and funeral in Houston on Monday and Tuesday, speakers included former Vice President Joe Biden in a pre-recorded video and the Rev. Al Sharpton in person, as well as Floyd’s family members.

Philonese Floyd remembered his brother as a neighborhood role model: “He was the first person who everybody looked up to in our neighborhood because he was the first one to get a scholarship to go and play basketball or football when he wanted to do.”

Floyd’s younger brother, Rodney Floyd, talked about the movement that has arisen from his brother’s death: “If he was told he would have to sacrifice his life to bring the world together, and knowing him, I know he would’ve did it.”

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