Former NBA Champion: Friend George Floyd’s Death ‘Destroyed Me’

Stephen Jackson, NBA veteran and longtime friend of George Floyd

Getty Stephen Jackson, NBA veteran and longtime friend of George Floyd

For NBA veteran and former champion Stephen Jackson, the death of George Floyd after an arrest by police in Minneapolis has hit especially hard.

“It just destroyed me,” Jackson told the “Today” show on Thursday, “and I haven’t been the same since I seen it.”

Jackson called Floyd his lifelong friend and said they would call each other, “Twin,” for their striking resemblance to one another.

During the arrest, one of the officers, identified as Derek Chauvin, was caught on a cellphone video holding his knee against Floyd’s neck for several minutes as Floyd lay, face-down, on the street. Floyd repeatedly said he could not breathe. The four officers who were at the scene have been fired.

Minneapolis has been the scene of violent protests since.

The video quickly spread, including to Jackson.

“I was thinking it’s just another video … another black man getting murdered by the police,” Jackson said. “And I didn’t really pay attention to it. As I clicked out of the message, I had 50 messages, and I clicked on one of them from my friend, Mike D, and it said: ‘You see what they did to Twin in Minnesota?’ And I jumped up, screamed, scared my daughter, almost broke my hand punching stuff because I was so mad.”


Stephen Jackson: Floyd’s Daughter was ‘Screaming’

Jackson played 14 NBA seasons for eight franchises. His best years came in Golden State from 2007-09, but he earned a reputation as a clutch postseason performer when he averaged 12.8 points in the playoffs for the Spurs in their championship run in 2003. That was Jackson’s third NBA season.

Now an analyst for ESPN, Jackson was known for his toughness during his career. But the video of Floyd’s death broke him up, he said. Jackson teared up when talking about hearing Floyd cry out for his mother, who died two years ago, while Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck.

“It hurt, because I knew that was a cry for help,” Jackson said. “I’m a black man, and I’m a strong black man, and I knew Floyd. That’s a cry for help. We don’t scream our mother’s name like that unless we know something is wrong and our life is in jeopardy … and we can’t control it.”

Jackson also said that when he called Floyd’s family, he could hear his 6-year-old daughter screaming in the background.

“She has to see this — the whole world has to see this — and she has to deal with it for the rest of her life,” Jackson said.


Jackson Hopes George Floyd Leads to Change

Jackson did express some hope that maybe there can be something good to come out of Floyd’s death, that maybe, after years of a steady stream of videos showing black men killed by police, something will change.

“We’re going to get change. This is not right. Some kind of way we have to figure this out,” Jackson said. “Because you don’t want — Americans, you don’t want us pulling the ‘you’ on you.

“You don’t want the people you’ve been brutalizing, the people you’ve been treating like trash, you don’t want them to turn around and do that on you. And that’s why America’s so scared of us. But we’re not going to do that. We come from a place of love. I’m going to get justice for my friend.”

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