Former NBA star Stephen Jackson spoke out tearfully on NBC's TODAY show Thursday about his longtime friendship with George Floyd, as the Minneapolis man's death over Memorial Day weekend continued to lead to widespread unrest throughout the city.
Jackson broke down when describing his grief hearing Floyd call out for his late mother during his fatal interaction with police. "It hurt. It hurt. 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 like that unless we know something is wrong and our life is in jeopardy and we can't control it."
"What's killing me the most about this whole thing, being a professional athlete so many people abuse your friendship and your kindness and he was one of those guys that genuinely supported me," Jackson said. "You don't have many people that genuinely support you without any motives."
Wednesday was the second night of violent protest since the death of Floyd, whom police were seeking to arrest outside a Minneapolis grocery store on a report of a counterfeit bill being passed. A bystander's cellphone video showed an officer kneeling on Floyd 's neck for almost eight minutes as he eventually became unresponsive.
Jackson said he learned of Floyd's death after he was sent a video of the fateful altercation, but didn't realize at the time it was his close friend.
"I clicked out of the video and I had 50 messages, 'Do you see what they did to your twin in Minnesota?' I jumped up, screamed, scared my daughter. I almost broke my hand punching stuff because I was so mad," Jackson said. "It just destroyed me. I haven't been the same since I saw the video."
The four police officers involved in Floyd's detainment, which stemmed from a report of a forgery, were fired Tuesday. The officer seen with his knee on Floyd has been identified as Derek Chauvin. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has called for him to be criminally charged.