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Alton Sterling Shooting by Baton Rouge Police Sparks Outrage, DOJ to Investigate

 Video of Police Shooting Death of Alton Sterling Stirs Outrage2:52

The U.S. Justice Department will lead a civil rights investigation into the death of a black man shot multiple times by police during a confrontation at a Louisiana convenience store.

Graphic cellphone video, recorded by a witness and by the store's owner, appears to show Alton Sterling, 37, being tackled and shot as two cops pin him to the ground before he is killed. Authorities said he was armed.

His death sparked protests against police brutality in Baton Rouge, and family members and the local NAACP branch called for an independent outside review of the police department.

Photos: Protesters Speak Out After Baton Rouge Police Shooting

"I have full confidence that this matter will be investigated thoroughly, impartially and professionally," Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said at a news conference Wednesday.

 Justice Department to Investigate Alton Sterling Shooting 0:27

Edwards, a Democrat, said the investigation into the use of unreasonable or excessive force will be assisted by the U.S. attorney's office and the FBI in the state.

The Justice Department confirmed opening the case, but it declined to comment further.

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said he would stand down as the federal investigation looks at whether any laws were broken.

Image: Alton Sterling
Alton Sterling. WVLA-TV

Edwards said he has "very serious" concerns after watching the cellphone video, which he said was "disturbing, to say the least."

Officials identified the officers Wednesday as Blane Salamoni, a four-year department veteran, and Howie Lake II, a three-year veteran, both of them white.

Officials wouldn't detail the "altercation" between the officers and Sterling or whether a Taser was used, but they said police body cameras, dashcam video and any other video from the scene would be part of the investigation.

Baton Rouge police said earlier in a statement that uniformed officers responded to a call after midnight Tuesday involving a black male in a red shirt who was selling CDs outside the Triple S Food Mart. Police said the caller claimed Sterling was acting threatening with a gun.

 White House: Obama is Aware of Baton Rouge Shooting 0:50

The officers "made contact" with the 5-foot-11 Sterling in the parking lot, and an altercation ensued, police said.

"Sterling was shot during the altercation and died at the scene," the statement said.

It wasn't clear whether both officers shot Sterling or which one fired the fatal shot. They have been placed on administrative leave, "per standard procedure," police added.

 Family Looking For Answers in Baton Rouge Officer-Involved Shooting 1:59

Sterling died from multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and back, East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner William Clark said. He wouldn't immediately confirm reports that Sterling was shot seven times.

The national president of the NAACP, Cornell Brooks, called the video hard to watch — but "far harder" to ignore.

"Get on the ground, get on the ground" is heard before two officers confront a man in a red T-shirt. One officer tackles the man, throwing him on the hood of the car and onto the ground. The second officer climbs on and helps hold him down.

Image: Memorial collage for Alton Sterling
A memorial collage at the scene of the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La. www.instagram.com/live_rich_clothing/

One officer appears to shout a warning: "He's got a gun! Gun!"

As a convicted felon, Sterling wouldn't be permitted to have a gun. But those who knew him said he kept one to protect himself from robbers.

A Sterling family attorney, state Rep. Edmond Jordan, said that whether Sterling had a firearm was irrelevant, because, at the moment he was pinned, the video didn't appear to show him wielding a weapon or pulling one out.

Related: Baton Rouge Store Owner Says His Video Shows Cops 'Murdered' Alton Sterling

Quinyetta McMillon, the mother of Sterling's 15-year-old son, said officers handled the incident "unjustly" and told reporters Wednesday that they killed a man who was "simply trying to earn a living and take care of his children."

"I, for one, will not rest or ... allow him to be swept in the dirt," McMillon said as her son sobbed behind her.

Sterling had recently been living in a transitional living center, according to The Advocate newspaper.

Abdullah Muflahi, owner of the Triple S Food Mart, provided his own video of the incident to NBC News. He called Sterling a friend who was easygoing and generous, and he accused the officers of having "murdered" Sterling.

 Protesters Take to Streets After Alton Sterling Shooting 0:40

State Rep. Ted James also called the shooting a "murder," saying in a statement that it "has made me question what it really means to be land of the free and home of the brave."

At Wednesday's news conference, officials said there was body camera video from the officers, but Baton Rouge Police Lt. Jonny Dunnam said it "may not be as good as we hoped for."

During the altercation, the body cameras became dislodged from the officers, but they remained activated, he added.

Mike McClanahan, president of the Baton Rouge chapter of the NAACP, said the officers should be arrested and that both Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. and Mayor Kip Holden need to step down.

"This is a new day," McClanahan said. "We will not have anybody who allows this type of action to take place."

 Police Chief: I am demanding answers 3:52

Both Holden and Dabadie said they wouldn't resign.

"Like you, I am demanding answers," Dabadie said.

At a vigil for Sterling on Wednesday night, Sterling's aunt, Sandra Sterling, called for peace.

"I'm mad. I'm so mad," she said. "But I'm not angry enough to hurt nobody. I'm not angry enough to go out in the street."

Ministers and other community activists echoed Sterling's plea and handed out voter registration forms.

"I want thank the community for acting accordingly, because this could have been worse," said the Rev. Keon Preston, a chaplain with the nonprofit Stop the Violence, who has seen two of his own relatives shot and killed in the last five years.

 Alton Sterling's Family Asks Baton Rouge to Stay Calm 0:45

But remaining calm doesn't mean people should remain silent, Preston said.

"We will not be silent," he said to cheers and a chorus of "amens." "We will continue to speak up, and our voices will be heard."

Muflahi, the store's owner, also appeared briefly at the vigil.

"We stand for Alton," said Muflahi, who was loudly cheered. "He would be so happy to see all this. Wish he was alive."

Another speaker, LaMont Cole, who represents the neighborhood on the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Council, called the officers "cowards" and declared that "they murdered this young man."

"It's time out for being politically correct," Cole said. But he also urged the community to protest peacefully.

"The investigation is in the hands of the Justice Department," Cole said, and "we will continue to demand that we get results, that we get them expediently."

"But I urge you — I beg you — to remain peaceful," he said.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s youngest daughter, Bernice King, was among those adding her voice.

"May his name and his brutal last breath shake up and transform systems," she wrote on Twitter.

 

 

 
Now PlayingNew video shows...
New video shows shooting of Alton Sterling 00:58

Story highlights

  •  Source says dash cam and body cams video not as clear as two videos already seen by public
  • Louisiana's governor says the U.S. Justice Department will lead investigation

(CNN)A second video showing the shooting death of Alton Sterling, a black man shot several times while being held on the ground by police outside a Louisiana convenience store, was posted online Wednesday as federal authorities took charge of the investigation and local officials asked residents to keep their protests peaceful.

The video, obtained by CNN, shows another angle and was recorded closer to the shooting by one of two white Baton Rouge police officers who were answering a 911 report of a man with a gun. It is the second of two bystander videos that show the encounter. One posted online Tuesday night quickly sparked local protests and drew national attention.
In the new 38-second recording, Sterling is already on the ground, on his back. One officer is kneeling to Sterling's left. The other officer appears to be straddling Sterling's legs. Sterling can be seen from the chest up and his lower legs are also visible. His left arms and hands are not visible; his right arm is by his side.
After gunshots are heard, the camera pans to the right then back to Sterling, who has a large blood stain on his chest. The officer who was on his legs now lies on the pavement above Sterling's head, his gun pointed.
The officer radios for an ambulance. As Sterling moves his left arm toward his face and then his chest, the other officer appears to remove something from one of Sterling's right pockets. Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. said Sterling was armed at the time he was killed and one witness said the officer removed a gun from Sterling's pocket.
Sterling, a 37-year-old man who sold CDs and DVDs outside the store, died of his wounds. The officers involved in Tuesday's shooting -- Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II -- have been placed on administrative leave. A source close to the investigation told CNN the officers were interviewed Tuesday night.

Officials pledge transparency

The second video emerged on a day in which Baton Rouge and Louisiana officials said the investigation into Sterling's shooting would be led by federal authorities.
The revelation also came as a vigil for Sterling was held outside the convenience store and city officials met with residents of Baton Rouge.
The U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division is leading an investigation into what happened. The U.S. attorney's office in Baton Rouge, the FBI and state police also will be involved in the investigation, Gov. John Bel Edwards said.
Tensions are running high in the city of 238,000 people as officials vowed to be transparent about how they handle the controversial case that has sparked vigils in cities around the country.

Searching for answers

Edmond Jordan, an attorney representing Sterling's family, said the first video of the shooting raises troubling questions.
"I think that the city is going to have to give us some good answers," Jordan, who is a Louisiana state legislator, told CNN. "And I don't know if they'll be able to."
Quinyetta McMillon, the mother of one of Sterling's children, teared up as she discussed the first shooting video. Her 15-year-old son stood beside her, sobbing.
 
Family of Alton Sterling breaks down at conference
 
 
 
 
Family of Alton Sterling breaks down at conference 02:45
"The individuals involved in his murder took away a man with children who depended upon their daddy on a daily basis. ... As this video has been shared across the world, you will see with your own eyes how he was handled unjustly and killed without regard for the lives that he helped raise," she said.
McMillon vowed to join fellow citizens of Baton Rouge in making sure those responsible are held accountable.
"I, for one, will not rest," she said, "and will not allow y'all to sweep him in the dirt."
A police incident report says Sterling was shot by one of the officers, but doesn't specify which.
Edwards called for calm and unity, saying he has "very serious concerns" after watching the video.
"The video is disturbing to say the least," he said.

The first video

At 48 seconds, the first video is longer and begins with the camera facing a car dashboard as the three men stand near the vehicle. A single pop is heard. Then someone yells, "Get on the ground."
Another pop follows.
The camera then pans up to two officers confronting a man in a red shirt. The man is Sterling, according to his family's attorney.
Still frames from the video that appears to show Alton Sterling being shot to death.
 
An officer pulls him over the hood of a silver car and pins him to the ground. Once he's down, the officer begins to assist a second officer in restraining Sterling.
Seconds later, someone shouts, "He's got a gun."
An officer can be seen drawing something from his waist and pointing it at the man on the ground.
More yelling follows, though it's hard to make out what's being said. Then there are two bangs.
The witnesses inside the car shout and swear. Three more bangs go off. A woman in the car starts crying.

More witnesses?

Investigators said they'll review multiple videos of the shooting, and they're canvassing for witnesses.
"If you have any information, we urge you to come forward," the police chief said Wednesday.
The owner of the convenience store where Sterling was killed said he's sure the shooting was caught on his store's surveillance cameras, though he hasn't seen it. Police took the video later Tuesday, he told CNN.
There also is police body camera footage of the shooting of Sterling -- even though the cameras were dislodged -- Baton Rouge police Lt. Johnny Dunham told reporters. The cameras continued to record, he added.
"That footage may not be as good as we hoped for," Dunham said.
Authorities haven't said what those police videos or other surveillance footage of the scene show.
A source involved in the investigation told CNN that none of it is nearly as clear as two bystander videos. The source also told CNN the witness who called 911 said Sterling was "brandishing a gun," not pointing it at someone.

The 'CD man'

Sterling was known as the "CD man," a laid-back guy who would sell tunes and DVDs outside the convenience store where he was shot, according to local media.
"Alton was a respected man. He was beloved in the community. He did not deserve the treatment and this excessive force that was exerted on him by the police department," Jordan, his attorney, told CNN.
Now Sterling's family is "grieving and mourning for an unnecessary loss of life," the attorney said.
"Alton was out there selling CDs, trying to make a living. He was doing it with the permission of the store owner, so he wasn't trespassing or anything like that. He wasn't involved in any criminal conduct," Jordan said.
Abdullah Muflahi, the owner of the Triple S Food Mart, said he saw the officers slam Sterling on a car.
"They told him not to move," he said. "He was asking them what he did wrong."
He said the officers then used a Taser on Sterling at least once before shooting.
Both got on top of him, and one ordered him not to move, Muflahi said.
The one closest to Sterling's legs yelled "gun," he said, and the shots followed.
After the shooting, Muflahi said an officer reached into Sterling's pocket and pulled out a gun.
Muflahi said he'd known Sterling for six years and never saw a confrontation between Sterling and anyone. Sterling never got into fights, he said. And the store owner said he wasn't aware of any incident Tuesday that would have spurred a 911 call.
"Just five minutes before," Muflahi said, "he walked into the store getting something to drink, joking around, (and we were) calling each other names."
Later, Muflahi said he didn't hear Sterling say anything after the initial confrontation.
"(Sterling) was really confused," Muflahi said. "He didn't know what was going on or why they were there."
He said Sterling never showed a weapon.
"The gun was never anywhere in his hand, nor his hand wasn't near, inside his pocket," he said.
Sterling has had encounters with law enforcement before.
In 2009, he was charged with carrying a weapon (a firearm) while in possession of a controlled substance (marijuana). He pleaded guilty two years later and was sentenced to five years in prison, with credit for time served and a recommendation of work release and drug treatment. Sterling had pleaded guilty to other charges in the past.
There's no evidence that officers who responded to the convenience store early Tuesday were aware of his criminal history.

Cause of death: 'Multiple gunshot wounds'

A preliminary autopsy found Sterling's cause of death was from "multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and back," East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner William "Beau" Clark said.
He declined to provide additional details about how many gunshot wounds Sterling sustained.
A full autopsy will be completed over the next 60 to 90 days, Clark said, pending toxicology results.
Salamoni and Lake, the officers involved, were placed on administrative leave Tuesday morning, police said.
Salamoni is a four-year veteran of the department. Lake has been with the force three years.

'He was handled unjustly'

At a news conference, the president of the NAACP branch in Baton Rouge called for the police chief and mayor to resign in the wake of the shooting.
"We're actually here today to speak to the culture of the Baton Rouge Police Department. This incident is only one incident in many," Michael McClanahan told reporters. "What we're going to do is root out the 1% of bad police officers that go around being the judge, the jury and executioner of innocent people, period, but more specifically, innocent black lives."
The officers involved should be held accountable, McClanahan said.
"I'm calling on anybody in this city with any backbone to go and arrest those two officers," he said. "If the system will work for anybody, let it work for them, too."
"I don't plan on resigning," police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. said. "We have done a lot of good in this community. We have worked very hard in this community. Do we have an issue right now? Yes. But we are working right now to bring the truth out."

'We ain't running from this'

People gathered Wednesday night at the site of the shooting to hold a vigil for Sterling.
Aaron Banks, lifelong Baton Rouge resident, was there.
"I'm feeling all sorts of emotions from this crime," he said.
Earlier, protesters took to the streets near where Sterling was killed after news of his death spread.
Members of Sterling's family were among them, Jordan said.
"Pretty much everybody who knows him knows he's a sweet person," his sister, Mignon Chambers, told CNN affiliate WVLA-TV.
"It wasn't right, and something needs to be done."
The protests were largely peaceful, according to local media.
Some streets were shut down, a few individuals spoke and those on the scene mostly played music and chanted.
"We ain't running from this," one man could be heard telling the crowd. "We gonna pray first, but we gonna stand tonight. We gonna stand tomorrow. And we gonna stand as a community."
 

In recent years, no company has been more associated with evil than Monsanto. But why?

Illustration by Benjamin Karis-Nix

The house was raised above the ground, like a mushroom or a white ray gun, its rooms radiating out like spokes of a wheel. It was 1957 and this was the “House of the Future,” a prototype modular house created by Monsanto, in collaboration with M.I.T. to help solve the housing crisis baby boom America was in the middle of. Not coincidentally, the house was made of plastic, one of Monsanto’s products at the time.

“They imagined fast subdivisions of this house, like Levittown,” says Gary Van Zante, curator of architecture and design at the M.I.T. Museum.

While that never happened, Walt Disney did select it as an exhibition at his new Disneyland. For 10 years, until it was torn down, the chemical giant’s creation stood peacefully in The Happiest Place On Earth, where millions of people marveled at it.

It is safe to say that if Monsanto’s pod house were erected there today, it would not be such a happy home.

Over the past decade, Monsanto has become a pop cultural bogeyman, the face of corporate evil. The company and its genetically modified organism (GMO) seeds have been the subject of muckraking documentaries (“Forks Over Knives” and “GMO OMG“), global protests, and assaults by everybody from environmental activists to “The Colbert Report.” Facebook and other social media are awash in memes (here’s a blog devoted to the topic) and hashtags like #monsantoevil. And it seems everyone, from your plumber to your mother, has an opinion about the company. This past year, when Monsanto bought a weather data company called the Climate Corporation for about $1 billion, David Friedberg, the company’s CEO, found himself bending over backwards justifying his decision to sell.  (As if the money wasn’t enough reason!) Friedberg told the New Yorker that even his father disapproved: “His first reaction was, ‘Monsanto? The most evil company in the world? I thought you were trying to make the world a BETTER place?’” (Friedberg also felt compelled to write a letter to his entire staff, laying out his rationale for Monsanto’s aptness as a new owner.) In short, you don’t need to have a degree in marketing and communications to see that Monsanto has a PR problem.

How did this happen? How did Monsanto go from the future of American innovation to a late-night punchline? Critics point to their role in GMOs, creating “frankenfood,” but Monsanto is not the only company that produces genetically modified organisms. And though it has a bad environmental record, so do lots of companies. Also, unlike, say, other corporate villains like General Motors (the antihero ofMichael Moore’s “Roger & Me”) Monsanto is not a consumer facing company, and its actual biotechnological workings are mystifying to the average person. Yet somehow it manages to serve as a focal point for popular fear and rage about everything from political pandering to globalization. Why?

The answer, of course, is complicated but numerous experts point to a fuse: the bungled launch of GMO seeds in Europe in the late ‘90s that progressed into a vicious war of disinformation that shows little sign of abating.

If you set aside for a moment from the usual debate about whether GMOs are bad or good, a curious fact emerges. For a rich and powerful company that seems to excel at nearly everything it does, Monsanto sucks in one important aspect: spin control.

Obviously, Willy Wonka got Monsanto treatment.1
Philosoraptor gets in on the anti-Monsanto action.2
Many memes reference a piece of legislation dubbed Monsanto Protection Act, which addressed issue of crops whose legality was challenged.3
Jesus: not a fan of Monsanto, at least according to Facebook memes.4
Even Xzibit gets pulled into the GMO fray.5
1
Obviously, Willy Wonka got Monsanto treatment.
2
Philosoraptor gets in on the anti-Monsanto action.
3
Many memes reference a piece of legislation dubbed Monsanto Protection Act, which addressed issue of crops whose legality was challenged.
4
Jesus: not a fan of Monsanto, at least according to Facebook memes.
5
Even Xzibit gets pulled into the GMO fray.
Let the Record Reflect

Before Monsanto became the face of industrial agriculture, it courted controversy in other ways — namely,as a chemical company. Founded in 1901, Monsanto was one of a handful of companies that produced Agent Orange, and its main poison, Dioxin. It sold DDT, PCBs, the controversial dairy cow hormone, rBGH, and the cancer-linked Aspartame sweetener.

Starting in the ‘80s, however, Monsanto shed its chemicals and plastics divisions, bought up seed companies, invested in bio genetics research, and ultimately reincorporated itself as an agricultural company. Its first GMO product, the patented Glyphosate-resistant, “Round-Up Ready” soybean, was approved by the USDA in 1994. But most Americans hadn’t heard of Monsanto until it tried to sell the seeds to Europe. That’s when things turned sour.

If you set aside the debate about whether GMOs are bad or good, a curious fact emerges. For a rich and powerful company that seems to excel at nearly everything it does, Monsanto sucks in one important aspect: spin control.

In 1996, the U.K. was reeling from the Mad Cow disease epidemic, in which the British Government insisted the highly dangerous disease posed no risk to human health, while people were dying. Brits had gotten a fast education in the modern farm system and were primed to be suspicious of GMOs’ supposed safety. Although the seeds were approved by the European Union, consumers rebelled in England. Grocery store chains pushed back, tabloids printed stories about “Frankenfoods” and environmental groups such as Greenpeace swung into action with high-profile campaigns. Even Prince Charles, a longtime supporter of organic farming, wrote a newspaper editorial opining that genetic engineering “takes mankind into realms that belong to God, and to God alone.”

This reaction caught Monsanto execs off guard. As Dan Charles writes in his book, “Lords of the Harvest,” Philip Angell, the head of Monsanto’s corporate communications at the time, bemoaned that the Brits were the “sad sacks of Europe” for their suspicion of GMOs. But Monsanto believed it could overcome the problem.

“The predominant attitude at the company was,  ‘If they don’t like it, if they try to block it, we can sue them,’” says a former Monsanto employee who asked to remain anonymous when speaking to Modern Farmer.

Monsanto responded with what was supposed to be a cleverly counterintuitive $1.6 million ad campaign that read: “Food biotechnology is a matter of opinions. Monsanto believes you should hear all of them.” The ads included the phone numbers of opposing groups, such as Greenpeace. But the advertisements struck their audience as glib and insincere.

Too little too late, Monsanto tried a different tack, engaging in a dialogue with stakeholders all over Europe. Monsanto’s then-CEO Robert Shapiro even apologized for the company’s condescension and arrogance at a Greenpeace meeting via video uplink in 1999. But the damage had been done. Monsanto emerged from the bungled launch of GMOs in the UK looking like a bully, and the image stuck.

The Terminator and the Rosy-Cheeked Canadian Farmer

And so, what started as a problem in England became fodder for a global conversation, in which environmental groups had the upper hand.

In 1998, Monsanto announced plans to acquire a seed company called Delta Pine and Land Company. Delta Pine had developed a patented seed that could only propagate once. “The Terminator,” as it was ingeniously dubbed by environmentalists, could not be saved and replanted by farmers, ostensibly forcing the farmers to have to buy fresh seed every year.

Summoning up negative emotional responses to “The Terminator” was a powerful PR tactic for environmentalists in the British GMO debate, and it only continued to be as the controversy caught on in the U.S. In fact, the seed proved such a hot potato that Monsanto never commercially introduced it. And yet, “The Terminator” continues to live on in anti-GMO rhetoric. In the 2009 documentary “David Versus Monsanto,” about a Canadian farmer who was sued by the seed giant (more on this later), “The Terminator” seed is presented as if it is a viable Monsanto product.

In 2009, Greenpeace activists held a letter to Monsanto's China CEO and a bowl of rice to protest in the lobby of a building where Monsanto has its office in Beijing.1
It's not just the U.S. that protests Monsanto: here is a scene from a May 2013 event in Chile, where the company was planning on introducing a new herbicide-resistant crop called Xtend.2
Gladys Roldan, 21, wears an anti-GMO t-shirt during one of many worldwide March Against Monsanto that took place in fall of 2013 in Los Angeles.3
Scenes from a 2014 protest, outside the Monsanto annual shareholder meeting in Creve Coeur, Missouri.4
1
In 2009, Greenpeace activists held a letter to Monsanto's China CEO and a bowl of rice to protest in the lobby of a building where Monsanto has its office in Beijing.
2
It's not just the U.S. that protests Monsanto: here is a scene from a May 2013 event in Chile, where the company was planning on introducing a new herbicide-resistant crop called Xtend.
3
Gladys Roldan, 21, wears an anti-GMO t-shirt during one of many worldwide March Against Monsanto that took place in fall of 2013 in Los Angeles.
4
Scenes from a 2014 protest, outside the Monsanto annual shareholder meeting in Creve Coeur, Missouri.

Environmental groups also capitalized on the public’s fear of the unknown, especially as it related to big emotional triggers of personal health and safety. A typical example, was Friends of the Earth’s 1999 mailing campaign, which read: “How Safe is the Food You Eat?…The scary answer is no one really knows.” This set the pattern for our current debate about GMOs: even as scientists argue in the New York Times and elsewhere that the technology has not been shown to be bad to humans, it is hard to escape the notion that these kinds of crops are too new to be properly vetted. Monster analogies graft nicely onto such gray zones.

By not understanding, at least at first, the emotional dimensions of the debate, Monsanto has been unable to shake its image. By its own admission Monsanto views its patented GM seeds similarly to the way the software industry views its proprietary technology. Like somebody buying a copy of Photoshop, Monsanto binds its customers to a terms-of-service agreement when they buy their “technology.” (It includes stipulations such as the inability to save and replant the seed.) In the past, if the company has learned those terms have been violated, they have sued, or threatened to sue, farmers. Monsanto even has a hotline that people can call to alert them to patent infringements.

Although this makes sense from a business perspective, it’s problematic from a public relations perspective. The “technology” they’re selling is seeds, which have rich cultural and even spiritual associations that Photoshop does not. Seeds have historically been a part of the natural world that belongs to everybody and nobody, like dirt or the ocean. The customers at liability risk aren’t corporate IT departments, but rather, farmers. (“The Daily Show” pilloried this in a bit last year entitled: “Aasif Mandvi learns that greedy farmers have threatened the livelihood of Monsanto’s heroic patent attorneys.”)

The pitfalls of Monsanto’s approach are most glaringly evident in the case of Percy Schmeiser, a rosy-cheeked Canadian farmer who was successfully sued by Monsanto in 1998 after he refused to pay the licensing fee for growing Round-up Ready Canola. Schmeiser claimed that the GM canola seed had blown onto his farm by mistake, and he wasn’t infringing on Monsanto’s patent agreement because he did not intend to use Round-Up on the Canola. Some of the crucial facts of the case remain hotly disputed: how much of Schmeiser’s farm was planted with the GM canola, whether he knew what exactly he was growing and whether his claim that he wasn’t going to use Round-Up was truthful.

But these murky areas get lost in the broad brushstrokes that color public opinion. Schmeiser was made into the poster child for the innocent farmer sued by big, bad Monsanto. For the past several years, he’s been a regular on the ant-GMO lecture circuit and as the subject of the documentary, “David Versus Monsanto” helped paint the company in an unflattering light.

Monsanto does not appear chastened by this Pyrrhic victory. A page on company’s web site describes the Schmeiser case in defiant terms:

“The truth is Percy Schmeiser is not a hero. He’s simply a patent infringer who knows how to tell a good story.”

Monsanto is clearly a company that undervalues the power of storytelling.

The World Needs Villains

The debate about GMOs’ safety, both in terms of potential dangers to the environment and to human health, is complex. Proponents say there have been no studies proving that GM is harmful. Opponents say there have not been enough studies to convincingly prove it’s safe.

“The whole debate has gotten so very, very polarized,” says Glenn Stone, an anthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis, who has written extensively about GM. The less analytical and more emotional the conversation becomes, says Stone, the more the anti-GMO movement needs “bad guys” to “appeal to those parts of the brain that get excited and run on fury and outrage.” Monsanto has clearly become that bad guy in what he calls the “rhetorical death struggle” that is the GMO debate.

Writing on Grist.org, journalist Nathanael Johnson concludes an impressively exhaustive series on GMOs, by suggesting that the fight is really more existential. He writes:

“Beneath all this is a fundamental disagreement about technology. At one end you have the… position, which suggests our innovations are hurting more then helping us. At the other end are the technological utopians who see restraints on innovation as intolerably prolonging the suffering that would end in a more perfect future.”

The discussion is important, writes Johnson, but very abstract. We need to have something concrete to attach it to, so we attach it to the debate about GMOs. And GMOs being abstract, still, we attach the debate to Monsanto.

Zeynep Arsel, an associate professor of marketing at Concordia University in Montreal, draws parallels to consumer backlash against Starbucks in the early 2000s.

“They also become this – I don’t want to say scapegoat, but icons [representing] broader social problems.” In Starbucks’ case, the company was blamed for mistreatment of farmers, bad environmental practices and neighborhood gentrification, with varying degrees of fairness. Similarly, says Arsel, Monsanto becomes “symbolically linked to a loss of small farming practices, political alignments and other abstract concerns.”

Perhaps, also, it’s not surprising that Monsanto’s shift into agriculture has made it a target for consumer rage. Food companies are particularly vulnerable to public relations headaches. Historically, companies like Nestle, Coke, and McDonalds have been frequent targets of consumer protests, boycotts and media floggings. (Remember “Super Size Me”?) Although Monsanto doesn’t sell breakfast cereal or hamburgers, it does sell the raw materials, in a sense. And as compared to, say, worrying about the health of the ocean when BP spills oil into it, people worry more about their own health and safety. The idea that our food might be adulterated or cause harm is an easy thing to get worked up about.

In a New York Times poll conducted last July, almost a quarter of respondents said that they believed that GMO foods were unsafe to eat or were toxic. And nearly 93 percent supported a GM labeling law. (Monsanto’s position has been that there is a lack of scientific evidence backing up those claims, and that mandatory labels would inaccurately put fear in the heart of consumers. It has spent millions to defeat various state-level bills and ballot proposals.)

Monsanto has made many attempts, since the initial launch of its GM seeds, to paint itself in a better light through advertising. In a few campaigns, they’ve used language about “sustainability,” and in others, they’ve taken the humanizing approach by showing pictures of smiling farmers or Monsanto employees. They’re also attempting to spread the message of new, non-GMO produce initiatives — arecent Wired article was titled “Monsanto Is Going Organic in the Quest for the Perfect Veggie.”

None of these seem to have made any difference, however, at least in the popular debate. Eventually, probably, Monsanto will relinquish its villainous place in pop culture to another corporation. It’s certainly trying: as Politico reported this past fall, they have shaken up their internal public relations office and upped contracts with outside image consultants. (The story also noted that Monsanto is still raking in money: it finished 2013 with a 25 percent increase in sales, netting the company $2.5 billion in profit.) As the Climate Corporation’s Friedberg noted in his all-staff email, tech companies have begun to assume the mantle of the evil corporations — many see Google’s motto (“Don’t be evil”) as more ironic by the day.

For the time being, the relentless march of Monsanto Facebook memes (“Not sure if trying to feed the world or poison it”) and anti-GMO sentiment only seems to be pushing Monsanto farther into the evil camp: States have been legislating around GMO labeling and companies like Chipotle are promising to drop GMO products. If Monsanto has any hope of shifting public opinion towards a brighter future, it’s going to have to find a way to deal with its image today. No one is lining up to live in the house Monsanto built.

As a website devoted to the news, opinions, and contributions of black people in America and around the world, TheGrio.com is interested in understanding what the past teaches us about our current political moment and how it helps us prepare for the future. In this spirit, TheGrio assembled a group of 25 contemporary academics, artists and activists to assess the most impactful African-American leaders in U.S. history. Each is uniquely suited through scholarship, experience, and commitment to black communities to assess the legacy of African-American leadership.

Each member of the expert panel was asked to complete a survey, which asked them to assess 170 black leaders. These leaders are individuals who worked in times as distant as American slavery and moments as recent as our own. The experts made independent rankings of each leader on the list. The expert jury also nominated leaders not included in the original list. An alphabetical list of all 170 leaders and all additional names is included at the end of this report.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE COMPLETE SURVEY RESULTS

Categories of Leadership

African-American leadership has taken many forms over the decades. Our jury of experts considered contributions from political leaders in four broad areas.

1. Elected and Appointed Political Leaders
2. Lawyers, Legal Advocates and Business Executives
3. Civil Rights, Political Organizations and Religious Leadership
4. Politically Relevant Intellectuals, Writers, and Artists

They have chosen the top five most impactful persons in each area. From these responses we have also compiled a list of the top 25 African-Americans in our nation’s political history.

Top Ten

Overall, our experts had widely divergent opinions about this extensive list of leaders, but they shared extraordinary agreement about the few individuals who have had the most impact in American history. According to our experts? these are the top 10 African-American political leaders in U.S. history in the order they were ranked:

1. Martin Luther King, Jr. 
2. Barack Obama
3. W.E.B. Du Bois
4. Thurgood Marshall
5. Malcolm X
6. Frederick Douglass
7. Harriet Tubman
8. Rosa Parks
9. Ida B. Wells-Barnett
10. Ella Baker

At first glance this list may not seem surprising. These names are widely regarded as some of the greatest African-Americans to have ever lived. There are some findings here worth noting.

It is fascinating to note that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is clearly the consensus choice of this group. King never held elected office. He was harshly criticized in his own lifetime both by the American public and by some members of his own community. Although he was still a very young man at the time of his assassination, his contributions shine forth as a signal, extraordinary legacy of leadership and achievement.

President Barack Obama is the only living leader included among the Top 10. He is ranked a very close second to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This result is nothing short of extraordinary given that President Obama is a relatively young leader who only became known to a national American audience in the past four years. Many of the experts on this panel have written critically of various aspects of his presidency. All of the experts on this list are deeply knowledgeable of the long trajectory of black struggle in America and the many personalities who have been part of it. His presence among these giants of black political history is indicative of the symbolic and substantive importance of his presidency despite his often-embattled administration.

There are four women among the Top 10. While Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks are women who are widely known and whose accomplishments are taught in American grade schools, both Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Ella Baker are less well-known figures for many black Americans. That these experts judged these women as significant contributors to black political efforts is an indication that they should be included in our broader curriculum of black history.

DO YOU DISAGREE WITH OUR RESULTS? CLICK HERE TO COMPLETE AN ABRIDGED SURVEY AND RATE AMERICA’S BLACK LEADERS

The span of black political leaders included in this Top 10 list includes those who struggled against slavery (Tubman and Douglass); those who were active during the nadir of race relations at the turn of the 20th century (Wells-Barnett and Du Bois); those who led the struggle for Civil Rights (King, Marshall, Baker and Parks); those who insisted on self-determination (X); and a contemporary elected leader (Obama). Such a broad sweep indicates that our experts believed there were many points in American history when leadership was necessary and when black Americans stepped up to provide that leadership. Top 25 Black Leaders

The list of the Top 25 leaders adds interesting diversity to the list of Top 10.

1. Martin Luther King, Jr.
2. Barack Obama 
3. W.E.B. Du Bois 
4. Thurgood Marshall 
5. Malcolm X
6. Frederick Douglass 
7. Harriet Tubman 
8. Rosa Parks
9. Ida B. Wells-Barnett 
10. Ella Baker
11. Booker T. Washington
12. Adam Clayton Powell 
13. James Baldwin 
14. Dred Scott 
15. Paul Robeson
16. A. Phillip Randolph 
17. Fannie Lou Hamer 
18. Marcus Garvey 
19. Jesse Jackson, Sr. 
20. John Johnson 
21. Mary McLeod Bethune 
22. Carter G. Woodson 
23. Nat Turner 
24. Harry Belafonte 
25. Charles Hamilton Houston
26. Langston Hughes

(There is a three-way tie for Belafonte, Houston and Hughes)

This list includes more living leaders: Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr. and Harry Belafonte.

The list also includes educators Mary McLeod Bethune and Carter G. Woodson, underscoring the extent to which education has been an important site of political contributions for black Americans. The list also includes artists Robeson, Belafonte, and Hughes, which underscores the importance of artistic and literary expressions within black politics. The list includes two additional women, Hamer and Bethune, reminding us that women have made critical leadership contributions to African-American politics. This list also includes two more black Americans who lived as slaves: Scott and Turner. Their inclusion signals the continuing importance America’s slave legacy.

Top Elected and Appointed Black Political Leaders

We asked our expert panel to choose the top leaders in each of four different categories of leadership. In the area of Elected and Appointed Political Leaders these individuals generated the most agreement.

Barack Obama
Shirley Chisholm
Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. 
Harold Washington
Colin Powell
Barbara Jordan
John Lewis

President Obama received nearly unanimous support as worthy of inclusion among the top leaders. No other candidate in this area generated as much agreement.

Shirley Chisholm and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. are somewhat surprising inclusions. Undoubtedly the heavy representation of New York based jury experts is likely responsible, in part, for their inclusion. Something else is likely at work here too. In the context of an Obama presidency, Chisholm’s unlikely and inspiring candidacy for the American presidency has renewed resonance, as does the ground breaking first that is the Congressional career of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.

Colin Powell is one of the few conservatives to make the lists of top leadership. Our experts judge his historic leadership positions in the American military and national government as worthy of recognition.

Harold Washington, Barbara Jordan, and John Lewis are all leaders with robust reputations for independence and courageous, outspoken advocacy on behalf of black community interests. They are also recognized as coalition builders who earned broad cross-racial support and respect as a result of their accomplishments. By choosing these leaders our expert panel is signaling an assessment of their capacity to be both fiercely independent and widely respected as the kind of skills necessary to make an impact on black political life.

The chart below shows the top leaders in appointed and elected office. There are two ties in this category. Therefore, seven names are listed.

Top Black Political Leaders in Law, Legal Advocacy and Business

We asked our expert panel to choose the top leaders in each of four different categories of leadership. In the area of Law, Legal Advocacy, and Business, these individuals generated the most agreement as worthy of consideration as most impactful.

Thurgood Marshall
Charles Hamilton Houston
Rosa Parks
Dred Scott
Madame CJ Walker
John Johnson
Homer Plessy

Our experts ranked Thurgood Marshall, Charles Hamilton Houston, and Rosa Parks as the most impactful leaders in issues of law and legal advocacy. Each was critically important in the struggle for integration in America. This is indicative of the continuing assessment that despite the challenges of the past 50 years, the battle to integrate America’s schools, workplaces, public spaces and government remains the defining effort of black politics.

Our experts also include famously unsuccessful litigants Dred Scott and Homer Plessy as among the most impactful leaders. Our experts recognize that failures can be as important successes in setting the tone and direction of black politics.

Our experts chose Madame CJ Walker and John Johnson as the most impactful business executives. Both of these business leaders made extraordinary political contributions. Walker remains one of the most generous individual contributors in the history of the NAACP. In many ways the legal work of the Marshall, Hamilton and others on this list was made possible by Walker’s contributions. Johnson’s black publishing empire had a similarly powerful impact in the modern political era when he magazines offered a primary platform for black political leaders to engage with African-Americans in a national forum.

It is notable that current Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is not included in the list of most impactful leaders – despite being the only African-American other than Marshall (who received 92% of votes from experts) to serve on the Supreme Court, and despite being a decisive conservative vote on many issues of social and political significance affecting black Americans.

Top Black Leaders in Civil Rights, Political Organizations and Religion

We asked our expert panel to choose the top leaders in each of four different categories of leadership. In the area of Civil Rights, Political Organizations and Religious Leadership, these individuals generated the most agreement as worthy of consideration as most impactful:

Martin Luther King, Jr. 
Malcolm X
Frederick Douglass
Harriet Tubman
Ida B. Wells-Barnett
Ella Baker
A. Phillip Randolph

The leaders on this list are most represented among the top 10 most impactful leaders overall. Six of the seven top leaders in this category were also chosen in the Top 10. Our experts believe that this is the area from which our most important leaders have emerged.

Both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X are ranked at the top of this list. Despite the many differences in their approach, style, and philosophy, our experts judge them to have made tremendous contributions. It seems that our experts believe robust disagreement among leaders is a point of strength for black communities.

No living civil rights leader was included among the top choices. This might be read as an indication that our experts believe the era of impactful civil rights leadership has passed.

The chart below shows the question top leaders in order. Again, seven are listed just for consistency with the first list and because this list also produced a tie.

Top Black Leaders: Politically Relevant Intellectuals, Writers, and Artists

We asked our expert panel to choose the top leaders in each of four different categories of leadership. In the area of Politically Relevant Intellectuals, Writers, and Artists these individuals generated the most agreement as worthy of consideration as most impactful:

W.E.B. Du Bois
Booker T. Washington
Oprah Winfrey
James Baldwin
Paul Robeson
Cornel West
Toni Morrison

As in the case of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X in the category above, our experts have chosen both W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington as the top leaders. Many observers of African-American history highlight the turn-of-the-20th century tensions between Du Bois and Washington as indicative of the diversity and contestation within black political thought. The experts have decided that both men and their ideas deserve recognition.

Three living African-Americans are included in this list: Oprah Winfrey, Cornel West and Toni Morrison. This is the largest number of living persons included in any top list.

It is also important to note that more additional names were added by our experts in this category than were added in any other. The wide variety of cultural, literary, and artistic contributions by African-Americans thinkers and artists led to a robust list of potential leaders. These individuals are the ones who our jury saw as making the greatest political (not artistic) impact in black America.

The chart below shows the top leaders. For consistency this list includes seven leaders. However, the distance between the scores achieved by the Top 5 and the rest is much clearer in this case.

Role of Black Leaders

We also asked our experts to assess the most important roles fulfilled by black political leaders in three different historical eras: (1) the decades before the 20th century, (2) the decades of the 20th century, (3) in our present moment

Our experts responded by rating the top three roles fulfilled in each epoch and their responses offer some important insights. In the years before the 20th century our experts believed that black leaders were primarily responsible for teaching and mobilizing black communities for action. This mobilization role was also considered primary during the 20th century, and was joined by role of affecting local and national politics as a critical responsibility.

In one of the most interesting findings in our survey, the experts suggest a new and critical role for black leaders in our contemporary moment. Mobilizing black people for action and affecting policy remain important, but our experts agree that building bridges to other racial communities is more important in contemporary America than it was in the past. Perhaps the perceived importance of this bridging role is part of the reason that President Obama is the sole living leader to make the Top 10

Rapper Phife Dawg, a member of rap pioneers A Tribe Called Quest, has died at the age of 45.

The musician had been struggling with ill health and diabetes for several years, and received a kidney transplant from his wife in 2008.

Born Malik Isaac Taylor in 1970, he co-founded the philosophically-focused rap group in 1985 with his classmates Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad.

Their biggest hit came in 1991, with the single Can I Kick It?

The band recently reformed to perform the song on Jimmy Fallon's US chat show, as they marked the 25th anniversary of their debut album People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm.

News of Phife Dawg's death emerged on Twitter, where producer and broadcaster DJ Chuck Chillout posted an RIP message in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Rolling Stone magazine later confirmed his death, although an official statement has yet to be released.

A Tribe Called QuestImage copyrightGetty Images
Image captionPhife (left) reunited with A Tribe Called Quest several times after their initial dissolution in 1998

Rapper Chuck D was among those paying tribute to the star, calling him "a true fire social narrator".

BBC 6 Music DJ Gilles Peterson said Phife and Q-Tip "complimented [sic] each other like Lennon and McCartney", adding "their albums changed my life".

EL-P from rap group Run The Jewels simply posted: "Rest In Peace Phife" alongside a video of fans chanting along to the rapper's verse in Buggin' Out.

Five Foot Assassin

A native New Yorker, Phife appeared on all five of A Tribe Called Quest's albums, acting as a punchy foil to the more mellifluous Q-Tip on tracks like Check The Rhime and Scenario.

He nicknamed himself the Funky Diabetic and the Five Foot Assassin - a reference to his diminutive stature - and his self-deprecating swagger became one of the band's trademarks.

Along with acts like De La Soul and Queen Latifah, the band were part of an overall movement that challenged the macho posturing of rap in the '80s and '90s. Their lyrics addressed issues like date rape and the use of the N-word in the track Sucker Niga, and avoided the hip-hop cliches of gunplay and expletives.

Musically, they fused jazz with hip-hop, often rapping over a drum loop and an upright bass - while 1991's complex, atmospheric The Low End Theory has often been ranked among the best hip-hop albums of all time.

A Tribe Called QuestImage copyrightGetty Images
Image captionThe band's hits included Bonita Applebum, Award Tour, Jazz (We've Got) and Scenario

Can I Kick It? was one of the band's more atypical songs - a gleeful barrage of nonsensical wordplay, based around a sample from Lou Reed's Walk On The Wild Side.

Despite the song's enduring appeal, Phife was not a fan. "It's hard for me to get into Can I Kick It? for the simple fact that I hated my voice back then," he told Rolling Stone. "It was high-pitched.... and I couldn't stand it."

Disagreements between Q-Tip and Phife eventually derailed the group and in 1998 they announced their fifth album, The Love Movement, would be their last.

Following the group's dissolution, Phife continued to battle diabetes, reuniting with the group for occasional live shows - partly to help cover the medical costs of his type 2 diabetes (often mis-reported as type 1).

He suffered renal failure in 2008 and received a transplant from his wife - but was back on the waiting list for a kidney four years later.

"It's a strain on me as far as going where I want to go, doing what I want to do," he said. "When I was on dialysis the first time, my stepson was playing basketball [and] I couldn't practice with him. I wanted to go out and run with him and things of that nature, but I didn't feel good."

"It's really a sickness," he added in Beats, Rhymes & Life, Michael Rapaport's candid 2011 documentary on the group. "Like straight-up drugs. I'm just addicted to sugar."

At the time of his death, Phife was working on a solo record, Muttymorphosis, which he described as "basically my life story".

A clip from the first single, Nutshell, was released last September, but the full track has yet to surface.

Reflecting on his career last year, the rapper said: "It's odd in a good way. I never expected it to be this big. I just thought we were going to be celebs in the hood. Like, honestly, within 25 years, when you go to places like Australia and Japan and Amsterdam and London and Germany and these people know [the songs] word-for-word, it's crazy."

An Ancient Egyptian city named Heracleion or Thonis was unexpectedly discovered near Egypt’s modern coastline. It was a surprising discovery as the city was dismissed as a legend or folklore.

 

 

 

 

1[1]The significance of Heracleion has been demonstrated by the finding of 64 ships, which is the biggest numberof ancient vessels ever found in one spot. In addition to these ships, 700 anchors were found on the sea floor!

Among the other antiques found at the archaeological site, following are the photographs of a notable few:

 Colossus of a Ptolemaic Queen

This is a 16 foot tall statue of a Ptolematic Queen found near the ruins of the temple. The statue is said to weigh about 4 tonnes.

Colossus of a Ptolemaic Queen

Head of a Colossal Statue

This is another huge statue of the god Hapi. The statue is 18 feet tall and made up of granite and diorite. The unusual finding is that the integrity of these holy statues is quite maintained even after being underwater for so many years.

Head of a Colossal StatueFrank Goddio, a French archaeologist, was in for a surprise when he went out to look for 18th century warships near the Alexandria coast. A huge statue face rising from the deep waters indicated that the archaeological team had gained more than what they had bargained for.

Colossal Red Granite

A lower portion of a grand red granite statue was also found here.

Bronze Oil Lamp

Amongst the other artifacts intact was an oil lamp made of bronze.

Bronze Oil Lamp

Intact and Inscribed Heracleion Stele

This Heracleion Stele resembles the Stele in the Egyptian museum in Cairo. The Stele was found mostly intact with the inscriptions undamaged by the weathering effect of water.

Intact and Inscribed Heracleion SteleGold Vessel

Gold VesselBronze Statuette of Pharaoh of the 26th Dynasty

Bronze Statuette of Pharaoh of the 26th Dynasty

The remains of this 12th century BC city were found in Abu Qir Bay 6.5 km away from the main coastline. 15000 years ago, Heracleion was an affluent township tragically covered by water.

The archaeological team found 64 ships, 700 anchors and several statues that are over 16 feet tall in the sunken city. This proves that the city was an important port town for Egypt’s market. Among the artifacts found in the city’s ruins are the remains of a giant temple.

Heracleion was said to be a rich and flourishing city before it was covered by the ocean, nearly 1,500 years back.

Statue of a Pharaoh

Statue of a PharaohStatue of a Pharaoh

The search yielded more than 300 small & big statues, artifacts, amulets and trinkets. The numbers of artifacts found indicate that the city’s sculptors made statues for local use as well as sold them to nearby regions.

Bronze Statue of Osiris

The Statue of the Goddess Isis


The astonishing discovery of Heracleion – Thonis has been a boon for the archaeologists. The resultant haul of the artifacts and statues will help them gain information on the religious and cultural beliefs of those times.

Franck Goddio.

 

By Antonio Morre

When President Barack Obama said that “more young Black men languish in prison than attend colleges and universities in America,” at the NAACP Democratic Candidate Forum several years ago, that information moved many listeners emotionally. Studies have since debunked that statistic, but this in no way means that the number of Black men who are incarcerated is not staggering.

According to U. S. Census estimates, there are around 18,508,926 Black males in the United States. According to The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Prisoner Statistics Program in 2013, out of that population—which includes both children and elderly males—an astonishing 745,000 are incarcerated, either in federal or local jails.

But even more astonishing is how the United States ranks against other nations. India, for example, boasts a population of 1.2 billion people—around four times that of the United States—and has only about 380,000 inmates in all its jails. To take it further, there are more Black men incarcerated in the United States today than the total prison populations of India, Argentina, Canada, Israel Lebanon, Finland, Germany, France and England combined.

 

Political motivations may have a hand in this, according to Nicole Porter’s article, “Politics of Black Lives Matter.”

Between 1965 and 1990, a period during which overall and violent crime rates tripled in Germany, Finland, and the United States, German politicians chose to hold the imprisonment rate flat, Finnish politicians chose to substantially reduce theirs, and American politicians generally enacted policies that sent more people to prison, along with lengthened prison terms.

These incarnation rates are also grossly out of proportion to the ratio of incarcerated women in America. While there is a total of almost 161,000,000 women in America of all races, the entire women’s prison population is only around 200,000, according to the Sentencing Project. To put that in starker perspective, while Black men are only about a tenth the size of the entire American female population, they are nearly 4 times more likely to be incarcerated.

Although President Obama’s original assertion about Black men in prison may be outdated, it does not change the overarching epidemic of black male incarceration in America. While 1.4 million Black men attend colleges, 745,000 are locked up (and many more on probation or parole). That ratio needs to change, or in the words of President Obama, “We have more work to do…”

 

 

 

Champion Cavs drink it all in after lifting Cleveland's title drought

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OAKLAND, Calif. -- As his last on-court television interview of the night wrapped up, LeBron James walked off the finally silent Oracle Arena floor where he'd put up a triple-double in the clinching Game 7.

He made a long, winding trek through barren concrete tunnels until he reached the Oakland Raiders' locker room in the neighboring O.co Coliseum, which had been transformed into a makeshift studio for the Cleveland Cavaliers to snap photos holding their newly captured Larry O'Brien Trophy.

There were three portraits James wanted to take, the same as after his other two championships: one with his wife, Savannah, and children (this was his infant daughter Zhuri's first); one with his lifelong friends Maverick Carter, Rich Paul and Randy Mims; and one with his mother, Gloria.

With each step, champagne squishing in his sneakers from the postgame celebration that was but a teaser for the rager that awaits the Cavs back in Cleveland, the best basketball player in the world verbally replayed the sequences of the most important basketball game of his life.

He started by focusing on a miss, a 5-footer in the lane with 1:25 to go and the game tied at 89, cursing himself for leaving it short after re-enacting the spin move that got him free to attempt it. Paul, walking alongside, steered James' mind back to the positive, bringing up the block -- to be forever known to Cavs fans as The Chasedown -- he had on Andre Iguodala the possession before.

"Iguodala is a bad m-----f-----," James snapped. "I had to go chase it down."

He raised both arms, just as he did when he pinned Iguodala's would-be layup against the glass with his right arm, and his 11-year-old son LeBron Jr. did the same (making it no wonder why he already has standing scholarship offers from both Duke and Kentucky, according to a source).

When the corridor eventually opened up to the Raiders' space, James sipped on a bottle of Moet and chomped on a cigar when Richard Jefferson approached. "Tell me, was that the most stressful game ever?" Jefferson said, finally a champion after 15 years in the league.

They both brought up Game 6 of the 2013 Finals, when Ray Allen hit his legendary shot. James shrugged. "It was close," he said.

Then he proceeded to replay the final sequences of that game, played three years ago this week, out loud the same way he had just dissected Game 7 against the Golden State Warriors, played an hour ago.

"Listen, we're down five, they got the ropes out with 20 seconds to go ..."

His stint in Miami made him a two-time champion, but it also made him feel unappreciated on his way out the door. Ever since James left the Heat, the way his exit was received there nagged at him.

"There were some people that I trusted and built relationships with in those four years [who] told me I was making the biggest mistake of my career."

LeBron James, on his secret motivation after leaving Miami

During last year's Finals, after tying up the series at 1 with an undermanned Cavs team, James hinted at it, saying, "I have some other motivation that I won't talk about right now. ... I hope we win so I can tell y'all."

They didn't win, and the Warriors took Games 4 through 6 and celebrated on the Cavs' floor. James didn't tell.

He held on to the secret motivation for 12 more months, declining to elaborate even when asked privately, allowing the intrigue to grow. Sunday, finally, it was time to tell the whole story.

"When I decided to leave Miami -- I'm not going to name any names, I can't do that -- but there were some people that I trusted and built relationships with in those four years [who] told me I was making the biggest mistake of my career," James told ESPN.com just outside the Raiders' locker room.

"And that s--- hurt me. And I know it was an emotional time that they told me that because I was leaving. They just told me it was the biggest mistake I was making in my career. And that right there was my motivation."

One could guess that one naysayer was Heat president Pat Riley, who in not-so-subtle fashion took a dig a James a year ago when he said his franchise was free of "smiling faces with hidden agendas."

James never saw his decision to return home as a mistake; he actually saw it as a legacy play, a chance to do something greater than what he could do in Miami by taking on what seemed like an impenetrable Cleveland drought.

"I knew what I was doing," James said. "I knew what I was doing, and I mean, tonight is a product of it."

What he was doing -- erasing a 52-year championship drought in Cleveland; averaging 36.3 points, 11.7 rebounds, 9.7 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks in the last three games of the Finals to help the Cavs become the first team ever to rally from a 3-1 series deficit and win the title -- was unprecedented. And his smile -- in the portraits he posed for -- genuine.

His vision complete. His decision validated. Even if the journey was harder than he expected.

"I didn't know it was going to happen this way, though," he said. "Oh my God! Down 3-1, versus a team that's 73-9, that lost one game in the playoffs at home ..." He was out of words.

Paul, his agent, approached James to show him a quote on his cellphone, freshly tweeted from Kyrie Irving's postgame news conference. "I watched Beethoven tonight," Paul said, reading Irving's words about James.

Irving, of course, was just as responsible for making the night a classic. He'd made the shot of his life just an hour before, a laser 3-pointer with 53 seconds left that broke an 89-89 stalemate and proved to be the winning points. It came over back-to-back MVP Stephen Curry's outstretched arms just ahead of the shot-clock buzzer, the type of cold-blooded dagger that lives forever in highlight reels.

"All I was thinking in the back of my mind was Mamba mentality," Irving said in a nod to an idol, Kobe Bryant. "Just Mamba mentality. That's all I was thinking."

For Irving, who watched the end of the Finals last year from bed as he recovered from knee surgery, it was a satisfying moment.

"Everyone had an answer for what the Cleveland Cavaliers needed to do," Irving said. "Now I just remember when we were down 3-1, I think [ESPN Basketball Power Index] was a 92 percent chance for Golden State to win it and us for 8 percent. Then it goes 3-2, then it goes 3-3, and now the odds change completely.

"I'm glad it happened this way, but I'm really thankful that we got to play against a great team like the Golden State Warriors that I can tell my daughter about."


Back in the Cavs' locker room was a case, a container that had been carrying a secret for the past eight weeks. It was a 4-foot-long golden puzzle that ultimately formed an image of the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

This was veteran James Jones' idea; he was looking for a symbol for the Cavs' playoff run, a way to form a collective spirit. In shades of the movie "Major League," the puzzle had 16 pieces, one for every victory it was going to take for the Cavs to win the title.

"We needed something to bring us together," Jones said. "Every guy was a piece. We assembled this team. So we had to assemble the puzzle." Jones imported this idea from Miami, where he and James were part of a ritual in 2012 when coach Erik Spoelstra had a secret black trophy, which every player on the roster signed at the start of the playoffs and on which each victory was marked with golden notches.

"Together, that's how you win a championship. Individually, we are all just a piece. Everyone had to have their role; everyone has to have their piece."

James Jones

For Cleveland's special secret trophy, there was another ritual. After each win in the playoffs, a different player would come forward to add his piece to the puzzle. During the Finals when there were constant cameras in the locker room, the players would kick the media out to keep it secret. Sometimes the honor went to the hero of the win. Sometimes it went to a player who needed a pick-me-up. Kevin Love slid his piece into place after he had to miss Game 3 with a concussion.

With the real trophy in the room and champagne flying, it came time for the 16th piece. All 15 players had placed their piece, leaving a hole in the middle. The last piece was in the shape of the state of Ohio. As cheers raged, coach Tyronn Lue placed the final piece into place.

The puzzle, the trophy, the journey was finished.

"Together, that's how you win a championship," Jones said. "Individually, we are all just a piece. Everyone had to have their role; everyone has to have their piece."


Carter, who manages James' various non-basketball businesses, marveled at a photo as he studied it on a cellphone. As bar taps were surely simultaneously being pulled back in Cleveland, there were tears falling down James' face in the moments after he'd finished leading the greatest comeback in Finals history.

In the middle of the chaos, Carter found James, and the pair hugged under the basket with "0.0" shining in red fluorescent lights on the game clock above them.

"Wow," said Carter, who was a high school teammate with James at St. Vincent-St. Mary in Akron. "That's a great photo. Wow. That moment was one friend feeling fantastic, exhilarated, exhausted and another friend just telling the other friend, 'Nobody in the world deserves it more than you.'"

Carter has been there for the entire ride with James and had the clothes on to prove it: a black Nike "Witness" T-shirt and a pair of LeBron's ninth Nike signature shoe.

"I wore this T-shirt to Game 7 in '13," Carter said, referring to James' leading the Heat over the San Antonio Spurs. "And the sneakers are, too; don't forget the sneakers. These are the 9s. I wore 10s last game. I wore championship sneakers [tonight]."

James added a pair of championship sneakers to the collection Sunday. It was a big night for Nike, its burgeoning battle with upstart Under Armour was personified by James against Curry. When James saw Lynn Merritt, a Nike vice president who oversees James and acts as a mentor to him, he reminded him of how he told him at the start of Cleveland's postseason run that the Cavs would need three great games out of him -- games when James was the "hero" -- and the championship would belong to them.

"I gave them back-to-back-to-back," James said with satisfaction.

Carter, back on the court, started to add up his friend's accomplishments.

"What's LeBron now? 3-4 in the Finals? Not bad," Carter said. "He's pretty dope."

What's next for James, Carter was asked, now that the monkey is off his back and the city of Cleveland is a winner again?

"It's LeBron James," Carter said. "What else is left? Do it again."


Mark "Cobra" Cashman, the Cavs' director of team operations, is one of just a couple of members of the franchise to share the locker room with James through both his stints in Cleveland. Having spent the past 15 years responsible for the team's equipment -- from bags to balls to uniforms -- his duties have expanded to become the team's unofficial director of fun, as he takes it upon himself to plan adventures to mix things up throughout the long season.

Sometimes it's as simple as setting up football targets outside the practice facility for the players to toss the pigskin through. Sometimes it's as silly as surprising someone by arranging to have a mascot visit their hotel room on the road. (Rowdy, the Dallas Cowboys' mascot, dropped in on James this season, while Mr. Met surprised assistant coach Jim Boylan.)

After Game 7, Cashman planned his coup de grace.

"There's another surprise that they don't know about," he said in the postgame locker room as the players drenched their jerseys in champagne and beer that Cashman will happily wash out in the days to come.

Ever since they won Game 6, the Cavs planned on leaving California on Sunday night, hoping to return Monday to a happy fan base in Cleveland. In the event of a win, the plane ride back would be a blast in itself. But Cashman wanted to up the ante.

"It's kind of the way the playoffs go," he said. "You always are planning for the next game, and you don't know if it's going to get there. So, it's hard. You kind of trick yourself into thinking it's going to happen, it's reality, versus there's still chance. So, that's hard. But there's a big surprise waiting for them tonight."

After being assured his secret wouldn't be revealed before the players found out about it, Cashman divulged the plan.

"We'll stop in Vegas for a little while," he said with a sly smile, explaining how he had buses waiting for the team at McCarran Airport that very minute, ready to whisk it away to the Strip upon its arrival. "We were always going to fly back [Sunday night] no matter what. A few of us kind of had a powwow after Game 6 and were like, 'What are we going to do?' So, the decision was, that's what we're going to do."

Vegas baby, Vegas.

"They'll enjoy it," Cashman said. "It will be a nice surprise for them."


Outside the training room, team athletic trainer Mike Mancias gripped a cigar as he received hugs and congratulations. Mancias started working for the Cavs in 2004, when one of his duties was to translate instructions from coaches to then-rookie Anderson Varejao, as they both spoke Spanish.

It was the second cigar Mancias would smoke over the weekend.

 

Mancias is one of the people James trusts the most. He's been his personal trainer for years. He followed him to the Heat and then came back to Cleveland with him. It was at Mancias' summer wedding in 2014 in Miami where Riley had hoped to meet with James and seal his re-signing. There was a signing that night; James acted as the witness for their marriage license.

This past Thursday night, the Cavs won Game 6 in Cleveland. James needed extra treatment, as he'd been kneed in the thigh. Mancias stayed late at the arena to do it, knowing the vital importance of the recovery time before Game 7.

A few hours later, Mancias was at a hospital to be with his wife, Heather, who was in labor with their first child. It lasted a brutal 26 hours, into Saturday. James and the Cavs flew in to San Francisco without him.

Finally, little Malcolm Ray Mancias came into the world. Mother and baby were fine. After they shared their moment with their son, Heather turned and said: "Go, go to Game 7."

Mancias took a charter with Cavs employees Sunday morning. He came to the arena right from the airport. Fifteen minutes later James arrived, and Mancias was there to stretch and tape him.

He'll never forget his first Father's Day.

J.R. Smith will never forget this Father's Day, either. He started weeping on the podium after the victory when talking about his family. When he got to talking about his father, he almost couldn't continue as he described the support he's gotten during difficult times in his career.

"I mean, my dad is easily one of my biggest inspirations to play this game," said Smith, who scored eight straight points in the third quarter to begin the Cavs' second-half turnaround.

"To hear people talk bad about me, it hurts me because I know it hurts him, and that's not who I am. And I know he raised [me] better, and I know I want to do better. Just everything I do is for my parents and my family.

"The cars are nice, the houses are nice, but none of this matters without them. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be here. I don't know where I would be, honestly. If it wasn't for them, if it wasn't for the structure and the backbone that I have, I wouldn't be able to mess up and keep coming back and being able to sit in front of you as a world champion."

Smith cheered up quickly. He struck a pose for pictures with a wrestling-style championship belt over one shoulder, a bottle of beer in one hand and a lit cigar in the other. Security guards tried to get him to put out the cigar, but Smith had no intention of doing so.

Within minutes, other Cavs had joined him. The visitors locker room filled with smoke. Timofey Mozgov towered above all, standing 7-foot-1 and blowing smoke straight toward the ceiling. When the Warriors played in Cleveland in January, Stephen Curry had joked that he hoped it still smelled a little like champagne from their title celebration there last year. The Cavs left the locker room at Oracle smelling of victory cigars.


Cavs owners Dan Gilbert, Nate Forbes and Jeff Cohen walked through the locker room with magnum-sized champagne bottles with their names engraved on them and a Cavs logo bedazzled with tiny gemstones. Gilbert is the majority owner, but these three have been friends for decades and act as a support system for one another. They're all also very superstitious.

When the Cavs came back for Game 5, there was a mix-up with the courtside seats, and there were only two. So Forbes ended up sitting behind the Cavs' bench for the first half and Cohen for the second half. The Cavs pulled out the victory, starting what would become the greatest comeback in Finals history.

They had all the necessary seats Sunday night, but Forbes was back in the same seat in the first half, and Cohen moved there for the second half and mostly watched on the scoreboard because he ended up behind Channing Frye.

Another minority owner, singer Usher, joined the Cavs for their celebration after the game.

Gilbert and his ownership group have spent about $850 million in salaries and luxury taxes over the 10 years since he bought the team. This season the team spent more than $160 million, the second-highest all time.

"For him to come back here and go through what he did, it's just pretty remarkable, and we're very proud of him, and we love our leader."

Kevin Love, on LeBron James delivering a title to Cleveland

As he prepared to leave the arena, James kissed his wife goodbye. She had playfully scolded him earlier when he took his daughter to his postgame news conference while he was drenched in champagne. First a shower then into the night, a three-time champion already on the lookout for a new challenge.

"I want to continue to be great. I want to continue to lead the 14 guys that I got on my team. I want to continue to lead this franchise. I got to continue to be great," James said. "That's it. I owe that to myself. I'm true to myself. I'm my biggest critic. All the other conversation that goes on out there, yeah, that's fine and dandy, but I'm my biggest critic. I owe it to myself to continue to be great."

His teammates, euphoric in the moment, had no thoughts of the future. They were finally content to be in the present and in James' presence.

"He protects every single one of us, and we are just very, very thrilled for our team," said Kevin Love, wearing a Stone Cold Steve Austin shirt but sounding warm and fuzzy.

"But for him to come back here and go through what he did, it's just pretty remarkable, and we're very proud of him, and we love our leader."

VERONA, N.Y. — Demetrius Andrade made it clear coming into Saturday’s title eliminator fight that it was a “make or break” moment for him.

The 27-year-old Providence, R.I., southpaw and former Olympian had fought less than 10 rounds in the last two-plus years due to legal problems. By all rights, he should have been rusty.

But Andrade came out on a mission against a tall, lanky and dangerous Willie Nelson, looking to show the crowd at the events Center at Turning Stone Hotel and Casino that physically and mentally, the layoff not only didn’t hurt him but actually helped him.

Andrade put on a boxing clinic, landing combinations throughout the fight as he dropped Nelson four times, including twice in the 12th round before referee Richard Pakozdi stopped it at 1:38 of the final round, keeping Andrade undefeated at 23-0 (16 KOs).

All three judges had scored it a shutout at the time of the stoppage.

“I’m still young, tall, black and handsome,” Andrade said. “I’m young enough and my reaction time is still going.  Willie Nelson is a true champion.  He pushed me to the limit where I had to figure out what punches to throw.  But I put the pieces of the puzzle together and got the knockout, baby.”

Andrade’s promoter, Artie Pelullo, said, “I thought he looked terrific. We all knew he had talent, but now he fought a tough guy in title rounds and went right through him.”

Andrade is the mandatory for WBC 154-pound champion Jermell Charlo, but they will not fight next, as Charlo must fight another mandatory, Charles Hatley.

Pelullo said after the fight he was going to talk to Showtime about Andrade taking on WBO 154-pound champion Erislandy Lara next, and then the winner would fight Charlo to unify the titles.

As for Nelson, who fell to 25-3-1 (15 KOs), he’s not sure where he’s headed, but retirement is not one of the options.

“He was tough.  I was forcing my shots too much. I felt like I was I was getting back into the fight, but he was crafty and mobile. I am ready for whatever is next and, despite what happened tonight, I am here to stay,” Nelson said. “My career won’t end like this.”

(Photo of Andrade, center, and Nelson, on the canvas, by Amanda Wescott, Showtime)

 

Kimbo Slice will be remembered for his improbable rise to popularity

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The exact time and place may differ from person to person, but the portal in which Kimbo Slice first became part of our collective consciousness was likely the same: YouTube, roughly a decade ago, prompted by a friend's instruction to type "backyard street fight" into the fledgling video site's search engine.

The results were raw, grimy and violent. Slice, born Kevin Ferguson, forced random tough guys with names like "Dreads" and "Chico" into submission with the loud popping of his bare hands. The fights, staged for cash throughout backyards and empty parking lots in Miami, produced unforgettable emotions for each viewer.

 

 

In fact, for many, there was a competing element to the emotions at play, alternating between excitement, fear and shame. Years before Billy Corben's documentary "Dawg Fight" shined a light on the culture of Miami street fighting, the character of Kimbo Slice provided an unforgettable introduction.

A little more than a decade later, following a meteoric rise as a professional fighter (running the gamut from sideshow to legit, and back again), Slice died on Monday in South Florida at the age of 42. Details of his death remain unclear.

Given his backstory, Slice's MMA run is nothing short of remarkable, progressing from backyards to the UFC in record time despite the fact that he didn't pick up the sport until his mid-30s. It's a testament to the reason why we couldn't take our eyes off him from the beginning: Slice was a legit tough guy who was born to be a fighter, and despite some of the bizarre moments that followed, he never stopped being true to that identity.

Born in the Bahamas in 1974, Slice battled poverty in Miami and was later homeless in his adult life after an injury brought an end to his college football dreams. He found work in strip clubs and eventually as a bodyguard in the adult film industry.

Everything about him felt alarmingly real. Slice's backyard fights brought a certain element of fear through the screen that's hard to explain and hasn't been seen since the days of Mike Tyson. While no one would mistake comparing the abilities of the two, they shared that unavoidable element of raw transparency as to who they really were.

It's hard to imagine Slice's trademark look -- or his combination of bald head, braided hair on the sides and mini ponytail in the back -- would have worked for anyone else. But he pulled it off (complete with his pioneering chest-hair designs) in part because we wanted so badly to believe it.

With his thick beard, gold teeth and chains, Slice was a comic book and action movie villain put together, yet it seemed he was never really trying to play that character. While other fighters have borrowed elements from pro wrestling in an attempt to add legitimacy to their toughness, Slice never filled the silence with unnecessary trash talk. In fact, it was because of his quiet demeanor that his tough aura felt so authentic.

Slice's legacy as a fighter, however, is complicated, if not unique. Many fans never looked at him as anything more than a joke -- or ratings bait -- who received headlining bouts simply because of his marketability. Yet it would be unfair to discredit the importance of his run -- particularly in prime time on CBS with Elite XC -- in terms of bringing MMA into the living rooms of the casual fan. It would also be unfair to suggest he was never promoted as anything more than an "attraction."

He rebounded from a potentially disastrous 14-second loss to late replacement Seth Petruzelli in 2008 and won back the respect of the MMA community by quickly transitioning into a real fighter, joining the UFC through "The Ultimate Fighter" reality series. His blue-collar work ethic endeared him to fans who could relate to the underdog element of his "everyman" run from the backyard to the UFC's Octagon.

But Slice's UFC career proved to be short-lived. So was his forgettable seven-fight run as a pro boxer, which prompted similar whispers of improper matchmaking that followed him at each stop of his MMA career.

Which brings up an interesting dynamic: For as celebrated as Slice was for how real his persona came off, he constantly fought off rumors that his actual fights were the opposite (despite nothing ever being proved). His final victory in February, over former backyard rival Dhafir "Dada 5000" Harris, was also overturned when he tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

But Slice's true legacy surrounds his unrivaled ability to attract viewers. He fought James Thompson on CBS in 2008 in front of 6.51 million viewers. One year later, his UFC debut, an exhibition fight against Roy Nelson on "The Ultimate Fighter" on Spike TV, peaked at 6.1 million. In 2015, he made a return to MMA with Bellator, twice setting company ratings records on Spike TV.

Slice will never be confused with an elite or title-contending fighter, but he made us care about his journey in a way that's remarkable for a guy whose public identity was carved in gritty bare-knuckled combat.

As his recent ratings might suggest, we never stopped caring, and considering his indelible mark on both pop culture and MMA in general, I doubt we ever will.

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Kimbo Slice dies at age 42

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Dan Le Batard discusses Kimbo Slice's deep roots in Miami, how he emerged from the streets to become one of the first viral sports stars by fighting in the streets, and what his legacy is in the sport of mixed martial arts. (2:38)

Professional mixed martial artist Kimbo Slice died Monday at age 42, Bellator MMA announced.

"We are all shocked and saddened by the devastating and untimely loss of Kimbo Slice, a beloved member of the Bellator family," Bellator president Scott Coker said in a statement, calling Slice "a charismatic, larger-than-life personality that transcended the sport."

"Outside of the cage he was a friendly, gentle giant and a devoted family man," Coker said. "His loss leaves us all with extremely heavy hearts, and our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Ferguson family and all of Kimbo's friends, fans, and teammates."

 

 

There was no word on the cause of Slice's death.

Slice had been hospitalized earlier Monday in Margate, Florida, for undisclosed reasons, according to Coral Springs police, who had been dispatched to his residence to prevent a potential gathering outside. They said no foul play was suspected.

"We lost our brother today," Slice's longtime manager, Mike Imber, said in a text message to The Associated Press.

Slice, birth name Kevin Ferguson, was a former backyard brawler and internet sensation. A heavyweight at 6-foot-2, 225 pounds, he had a 5-2 professional record with four TKOs.

He was signed to Bellator MMA and scheduled to headline Bellator 158 on July 16 in London against James Thompson.

He last fought at Bellator 149 on Feb. 19 in Houston. He defeated Dhafir Harris, aka Dada5000, in a three-round decision. The result was later changed to a no-contest by the Texas commission, after Slice tested positive for anabolic steroids and an elevated testosterone ratio.

Slice also previously fought for the UFC.

"He carried himself as a true professional during his time in our organization," the promotion said in a statement Monday night. "While he will never be forgotten for his fighting style and transcendent image, Slice will also be remembered for his warm personality and commitment to his family and friends."

Slice was born in the Bahamas on Feb. 8, 1974, but grew up in South Florida. He played middle linebacker at Miami's Palmetto High and showed the potential to play in college before Hurricane Andrew caused Palmetto High's season to be cut short and his scholarship offers vanished. He flunked out of college at Bethune-Cookman University and was homeless for a brief time. He worked as a limo driver, strip-club bouncer and bodyguard before rising to fame through his viral street-fighting videos.

He was not embraced by much of the MMA world as it attempted to go mainstream, with UFC president Dana White famously saying Slice would not last two minutes in the Octagon. However, due in part to his immense popularity, Slice's third professional fight, a fourth-round TKO against Thompson in May 2008, aired on CBS, making it the first MMA fight on prime-time network television.

In 2009, the UFC booked Slice as a contestant on "The Ultimate Fighter" reality series. He ultimately fought for the UFC twice, compiling a 1-1 record, before taking a leave of absence from MMA to compete in professional wrestling.

In 2015, Bellator signed Slice and promoted him in a main event against MMA pioneer Ken Shamrock. Slice won the fight via TKO in the first round, after nearly being submitted by Shamrock in the opening minutes.

Shamrock tweeted about Slice's death Monday night.

We battled inside the cage, warrior vs warrior. Outside the cage, we have loved ones. REST IN PEACE KIMBO SLICE. May God Watch Over You.

The two Bellator events Slice competed in, Bellator 138 and Bellator 149, set new ratings records on Spike TV.

Slice made his professional MMA debut on Nov. 10, 2007, for the now-defunct promotion EliteXC, knocking out Bo Cantrell in just 19 seconds.

He trained out of American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. The team also mourned his passing on Twitter.

The ATT Family and South Florida community lost a legend today. RIP Kimbo.

For all of his glowering in-cage swagger and outsized fame, Slice was extraordinarily honest about his fighting abilities. He acknowledged being an MMA newcomer with much to learn, never claiming to be anything but a big puncher providing for his family while constantly working to learn the sport's other disciplines.

"The guys who are holding the titles, heavyweight and light heavyweight, these guys are awesome," Slice told the AP in a 2010 interview before his second UFC fight. "I'm really just having happy days in the midst -- being among them, fighting on the undercards, just contributing to the UFC and the sport. That's really what I want to do. I'm not looking ahead to winning a title or anything like that. I'm just enjoying each fight as it comes."

Slice is survived by six children, and he credited his MMA career for allowing him to send them to college. One of his three sons, Kevin Ferguson Jr., made his MMA debut in March.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Kimbo Slice's death draws plenty of reaction on social media

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ESPN MMA writer Brett Okamoto looks back at the MMA career of Kimbo Slice, who died Monday at age 42. (1:32)

The mixed martial arts world lost one of its most iconic fighters when Kimbo Slice died Monday at the age of 42.

His loss obviously resonated throughout the MMA community. Here's a sampling of the reaction to Slice's death:

We battled inside the cage, warrior vs warrior. Outside the cage, we have loved ones. REST IN PEACE KIMBO SLICE. May God Watch Over You.

Prince, Ali, Kimbo, Jordan Parsons RIP
Like I said before make sure you tell everybody that's important to you that you love them everyday!

Be blessed on your new journey Kimbo. You inspired so many! With our short time in life,inspiration is King. My condolences to the Slice fam

Sad to hear about the passing of Kimbo Slice. Condolences to his family. 

There were also an outpouring of sympathy from elsewhere in the sports world:

 - Im glad I got to know you my friend. You were a badass SOB and extremely kind at the same time. U will be missed. 

RIP Kimbo my brother,we will miss you in the 305,only love4U. HH

Kimbo Slice. Smh. I Use To Sneak To Watch Your Videos In High School. Rest Easy.