Before George Floyd became a figure of the civil rights movement, he was an athlete, a rapper and a father from Houston.
Floyd, who was killed while in the custody of Minneapolis police, was profiled Sunday on the front page of his hometown newspaper, The Houston Chronicle. Gabrielle Banks, one of the reporters who worked on the story, told Texas Standard host David Brown more about the man behind the story.
“This is just a person that had a complicated life like all of us,” Banks said. “Have a sense of who he was because he is going to be a lasting figure in American history.”
Floyd’s “complicated life” began at the Cuney Homes public housing complex at Houston’s third ward.
“He had a lot of loss in his life,” Banks said.
As a teenager, his father was not around, so Floyd’s younger siblings relied on him for support. In high school, he rapped and played football. During that time, three athletes on his football team were violently killed, and four or five people from the rap community died of various causes.
Despite early hardships, Banks said, “everyone described him as gentle, loving and he was a jokester. They told stories about him cracking people up.”
For a few years, Floyd struggled with addiction and had run-ins with the law. He was the father of three children and was not able to participate in the lives of his two eldest. But he wanted to support the youngest – his now-six-year-old daughter.
“[Floyd] was in love with [his youngest daughter]. He called her Buttercup and he wanted to be in her life. He wanted to have partial custody of her,” Banks said.
In order to do that, he needed to get clean, so Floyd entered a rehab program called Turning Point. That’s how he ended up in Minneapolis.
“He was a complicated, caring, loving person, who had some hardships in his life, and was a father and a friend and a son,” Banks said. “[Floyd] shouldn’t be reduced to a gentle giant or the victim of police brutality.”
Funeral services for George Floyd will be held in Houston this week.
Web story by Sarah Gabrielli.