George Floyd had moved to Minneapolis to turn his life around.
The 46-year-old father — who died Monday after a cop kneeled on his neck for several minutes during an arrest — left his Texas hometown in 2014 after a stint in prison for armed robbery.
“He was looking to start over fresh, a new beginning,” said Christopher Harris, Floyd’s lifelong friend. “He was happy with the change he was making.”
Growing up in Houston’s Third Ward, one of the city’s predominantly black neighborhoods, Floyd emerged as a talented athlete.
Standing at 6-foot-6, he was a star tight end for Jack Yates High School, where he earned the nickname “gentle giant” from classmates.
He then played basketball at South Florida Community College, before returning to Houston to make music with local hip hop group Screwed Up Click, Roxie Washington, the mother of Floyd’s 6-year-old daughter Gianna Floyd, told The Houston Chronicle.
In 2007, Floyd was charged with armed robbery in a home invasion in Houston, in which another man posed as a water department worker in an attempt to gain access to a woman’s residence, according to court documents.
When the woman realized he wasn’t actually a water department worker, she tried to close the door. That’s when five other men got out of a car that had just pulled up and forced their way inside.
According to charging documents, the largest man in the group, whom the victim identified as Floyd, “forced his way inside the residence, placed a pistol against the complainant’s abdomen, and forced her into the living room area of the residence.”
Floyd in 2009 was sentenced to five years in prison as part of a plea deal in the case.
Shortly after getting out, he made the move to Minneapolis in hopes of a better life, and landed a gig working security at a Salvation Army store.
He later started working two jobs, one driving trucks and another as a bouncer at the restaurant Conga Latin Bistro, where he was known as “Big Floyd.”
In a recent video, Floyd had pleaded with younger generations to make good life choices and stop gun violence.
Floyd was laid off amid Minnesota’s coronavirus stay-at-home order, shuttering bars and restaurants.
“He was doing whatever it takes to maintain going forward with his life,” Harris said.
On Monday night, an employee at a Minneapolis grocery store called cops after Floyd allegedly tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill.
But Harris said he couldn’t believe that his old friend would resort to forgery, saying “I’ve never known him to do anything like that.”
“The way he died was senseless,” Harris continued. “He begged for his life. He pleaded for his life.”
“When you try so hard to put faith in this system, a system that you know isn’t designed for you, when you constantly seek justice by lawful means and you can’t get it, you begin to take the law into your own hands.”
With Post wires