The death of a close friend was not what former pro-basketball star Stephen Jackson was expecting on May 25th. Shortly after the news broke of George Floyd’s killing, Jackson went public with the information that Floyd was a “twin” to him.
When he had initially viewed the video, he didn’t immediately recognize Floyd, thinking he was just “another black getting murdered by the police.”
After taking a second look, Jackson came to the crushing realization of the man’s identity. “I haven’t been the same since I seen it,” Jackson told an NBC correspondent on the Today Show.
What initially started off as just “another black getting murdered” has been anything but that. Following the Minneapolis tragedy, thousands upon thousands of Americans have participated in protests — both peaceful and violent — over the course of the past few days. President Trump himself has threatened to bring in the military should the violence continue.
“Floyd would want everybody standing together and fighting for justice, and that’s it. He’s not the type of person to promote violence… What we’re seeing right now, this is not what Floyd would want” Jackson said.
It is quite a defining statement from Jackson, has spoken passionately about the necessity of change: “We need justice, we demand it… we’re going to get it… it has to stop,” he told CNN.
As one of the current leading faces in the public eye, Jackson’s early life had its ups and downs. Born in Port Arthur, Texas, Jackson’s half-brother Donald Buckner died due to head trauma at age 25 after being jumped.
It was an event that shaped him, as Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh alluded to: “You can’t tell me seeing his brother die that way hasn’t had an effect. To me, it’s why he is always coming to the help of his teammates.”
Jackson’s success on the basketball court was nothing short of spectacular, as after leading his high school to a state championship his junior year, he was drafted 42nd overall in the 1997 NBA draft by the Phoenix Suns.
His 18-year professional career includes over 12,000 points, a playoff run with the Golden State Warriors in 2006-07, and a world championship in 2003 with the San Antonio Spurs.
It is his outspokenness that has made Jackson a profound leader in the current protests. At a quick glance, one could possibly confuse Floyd and Jackson as related.
“I’m here because they’re not gonna demean the character of George Floyd, my twin,” Jackson told a Memphis gathering. “When was murder ever worth it?” he continued “But when it’s a black man, it’s approved.”
Jackson has become a voice that the Black community can rally behind. He is an example that a Black person killed by the police is not just another random victim; they are somebody who matters.
Jackson has become the example of a community member directly involved with the victim; he did not bring himself to a “victim” level, he brought the victims up to his star level.
As he continues to share the words and feelings of his true friend’s death, it is certain that this relationship will serve as the bridge between police victims and true celebrity power. Stephen Jackson is doing something that has rarely been seen before.
As more celebrities and athletes continue to share their support with the Black community, Jackson stands as the pillar uniting all classes.
This is not about status anymore. This is about family, community, and standing up for the rights of the oppressed. As Jackson’s daughter said herself, “Daddy changed the world.”