Former NBA player Stephen Jackson on Thursday expanded on his longtime friendship with George Floyd, the man who died in police custody Monday in Minneapolis, in an emotional interview on NBC’s "Today" show.
Jackson, who played for seven teams over a 14-year career that included a championship with the San Antonio Spurs, referred to Floyd as his twin in an Instagram post. He told "Today" they were both from the Houston area and connected immediately when introduced by a mutual friend. He said he’d stop to see Floyd whenever he was back in his hometown.
“Being a professional athlete, so many people abuse your friendship and your kindness,” Jackson said. “He was one of those guys that genuinely supported me.”
In the interview’s most poignant moment, Jackson described how he realized Floyd was pleading for his life in the video when he was screaming for his late mother.
“I knew that was a cry for help,” he said. “I’m a strong black man and I know Floyd. 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. … We’re going to get change. Some way or other, we’ve got to get this figured out.”
Jackson concluded with a request that the protests that have erupted following Floyd's death not escalate into further violence.
“Honestly, he would be happy that people are fighting for him, but that’s not the way he’d want to do it," Jackson said. "Floyd would want everybody standing together and fighting for justice, and that’s it. He wouldn’t want to see innocent people get hurt. He used to baptize people."
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