'He'll never see her grow up': George Floyd mourned by children, family, friends and strangers
MINNEAPOLIS — George Floyd moved to Minneapolis from his hometown of Houston several years ago looking for a fresh start.
He got a job as a truck driver and security jobs at Conga Latin Bistro and the local Salvation Army and sent a portion of his pay to support his 6-year-old daughter Gianna.
“His whole reason to come (to Minneapolis) was to be a better father, be a better provider. He was doing his part,” former NBA player Stephen Jackson, Floyd's childhood friend, said Tuesday. “I’m through crying. I’m ready to fight. I’m ready to stand for my brother. I’m ready to get justice for my brother.”
The viral video of Floyd's death in custody of Minneapolis police officers has sparked outrage and protests across the nation.
Floyd's son, Quincy Mason Floyd, said during a press conference Wednesday that he was thankful for the love and support from across the globe for his father.
"No man or woman should be without their father. We want justice for what's going on right now," said Floyd, appearing distraught.
Family members said Floyd remained close to his children, even after leaving Houston.
“He’ll never see [Gianna] grow up, graduate. He will never walk her down the aisle. If there’s a problem she’s had and needs her dad, she does not have that anymore,” Roxie Washington, Gianna's mother, said.
Floyd, 46, was also loved in the Minneapolis community.
The day before George Floyd died, he was scheduled to meet with his friend Wallace White, to talk about getting involved with MAD DADS — Men Against Destruction Defending Against Drugs and Social Disorder, but he couldn't make it.
White watched the video on Facebook showing Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck as he said he couldn't breathe.
“That boy didn’t need to die like that. All the footage showed the man was not resisting him," said White, 56. "He was a gentle giant man. He was loved by everyone around here. He was a real quiet guy, liked to have fun."
In life, friends and family members said the 6-foot-4 Floyd never made an enemy.
“He didn’t like to argue, all that drama and stuff," White said. "He never threw around the fact that he was a bigger guy.”
Floyd's family attorney Benjamin Crump said Floyd also leaves behind a 22-year-old daughter in Houston.
“He was a really good person that everybody seemed to love," Crump told USA TODAY. "He was a gentle giant that when he came in the room he would light up the room. He was so exuberant.”
Crump said Floyd was born in Fayetteville, N.C., but grew up in Houston where most of his family still lives. Floyd was a standout high school athlete who played basketball for South Florida State College, his youngest brother Rodney Floyd said.
Saturday will mark the two year anniversary of their mother's death, which has only made the pain worse for Floyd's family, he said.
"We've all been down here struggling," said Rodney Floyd, who lives in Houston. “He was a great person and he always made everybody feel safe and secure around him."
Philonise Floyd said he has been feeling constant pain since his brother's death.
"I grew up with him. That was my oldest brother. I loved him. I'm never going to get my brother back," he told CNN. "I wouldn't want this for anybody else. I'm just tired of seeing black people dying."
Tera Brown, Floyd's cousin, told KHOU in Houston that she grew up with Floyd and described him as athletic, talented and liked to joke around.
"He was everybody's favorite everything," Brown said. "He was the favorite friend, he was the favorite cousin."
Christina Dawson, Floyd's ex-girlfriend, told USA TODAY that Floyd was a joy to be around.
"Happy, fun, goofy guy," Dawson said. "He loved to see people happy."
Floyd had become a popular fixture at Conga Latin Bistro. The restaurant shared photos of Floyd on its Facebook page with one post reading "RIP Sad, we will always remember you." Patrons and colleagues shared memories in the comments.
"He was one of those big teddy bears. This is a huge loss. I really do hope there will be justice for this," one user wrote.
Bistro owner Jovanni Thunstrom said in a Facebook post that the death of Floyd was "just plain murder."
"My employee George Floyd was murdered by a Police officer that had no compassion, used his position to commit a murder of someone that was begging for his life," Thunstrom wrote. "I will like to keep on writing, but my vision is blurry, from the tears coming out of my eyes. I am sorry, I usually don't cry."
Mark Emmert of the Des Moines Register contributed.