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From North Carolina to Minnesota: A look back at George Floyd's life

Alex Jokich
Updated: June 04, 2020 10:22 PM
Created: June 04, 2020 10:01 PM

5 Eyewitness News took a closer look at George Floyd's life — from birth to death — to learn more about the man whose name is being chanted around the world.

Floyd was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, in 1973 but called Houston home for most of his life. He grew up in the Third Ward, which is a predominantly black, impoverished neighborhood.

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"I watched his mama raise him right there in that house," said childhood friend Reginal Smith. "I watched him love his mama to death. His mama passed two years ago."

Floyd attended Jack Yates High School in Houston. He played basketball and was a star tight end on the football team. Floyd played in the 1992 state championship game at the Astrodome. 

"He was always towering over everybody, as a child through adulthood, but his character has always been the same," said high school friend Coach Chuck. "He really was a gentle giant. He really was about fairness and goodness for everybody, even at the expense of his own hurt, he still stood for that. He said, 'That's what means something.'"

In the 1990s, Floyd became a known rapper under the name Big Floyd, alongside DJ Screw and the hip hop group Screwed Up Click.

He ran into trouble with the law in his 20s and 30s, including theft in 1998 and drug charges in 2002 and 2005. He was charged in 2007 with armed robbery in a home invasion in Houston and was sentenced to five years in prison as part of a plea deal, according to court documents.

Friends said after serving time, he became an anti-violence advocate and decided to get a fresh start by moving to Minnesota in 2014.

"He was changing his life. He went to Minnesota. He was driving trucks," Stephen Jackson, NBA champion basketball player and longtime friend of Floyd, said in an Instagram post. "Floyd was my brother, man. We called each other 'twin.'"

Floyd's roommate in St. Louis Park, Alvin Manago, said he became a man of faith and mostly kept to himself.

"God-fearing, things like that," said Manago. "He just would read his little scriptures every once in a while. He had them by his bed."

 Floyd worked several jobs in the Twin Cities, most recently as a security guard at Conga Latin Bistro in Minneapolis.

"He's that type of person that if you need help, you can count on him," said his former boss Jovanni Thunstrom. "Very nice guy. My employees loved him. My customers loved him. He was very respectful and a hard worker."

Floyd was also a father of five, according to speakers at his memorial service Thursday.

His son, Quincy Mason, spoke in Minneapolis earlier this week, saying, "We deserve justice. That's all I have to say."

In an interview with ABC News, Floyd's 6-year-old daughter Gianna said she wants the world to know "that I miss him."

"My heart is broke for my baby. It's broke," said Gianna's mother Roxie Washington. "I mean that was his baby. He loved his little girl."

Floyd found love while living in Minneapolis. He met girlfriend Courteney Ross about three years ago. She said it was "love at first sight" and described him as funny, talkative and kind.

"He believed everyone in this world should get a chance. There's no throwaway people. There's nobody that doesn't deserve love. He always showed that," Ross said through tears.

Floyd's six siblings said he stood for peace and unity.

"He always saw the lighter, the brighter side of things, and he made you feel like you could just do anything, like you could rule the world even if you're going through something. That's just how he spoke to you," said brother Terrence Floyd. "That's how I could just sum it up. He was a motivator, peaceful motivator."

They hope his legacy will be one of change.

Floyd died at the age of 46 while in the custody of Minneapolis police officers.


Copyright 2020 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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