George Floyd wanted only to provide for his 6-year-old daughter, Gianna, who was his pride and joy, and that's what led him to Minnesota, where he took his last breath while handcuffed as a since fired Minneapolis Police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
"His whole reason for being in Minnesota was to work and drive trucks, and he was doing that, he was doing great here," Floyd's childhood friend, former NBA player Stephen Jackson told reporters Tuesday. "He was turning the curve and then this happened."
Floyd, 46, died from “mechanical asphyxia” caused by "severe pressure" on his neck and back from Minneapolis Police Department officers pinning him to the pavement, a private autopsy by doctors hired by Floyd’s family determined.
Public outrage ensued when a video of since fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin placing his knee on Floyd's neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds went viral. For the last two minutes and 53 seconds of being pinned to the ground, Floyd was unresponsive, according to a criminal complaint released by the Hennepin County Attorney's Office. In the video, Floyd told officers several times that he could not breathe.
But Floyd should be remembered for so much more than what was captured in that now-viral video, and his death is so much more than a statistic or a headline, his family said.
"I don't have a lot to say, because I can't get my words together right now," Roxie Washington, the mother of Floyd’s 6-year-old daughter, Gianna, said to reporters as she choked back tears. "But I wanted everybody to know that this is what those cops took from," she said, before needing to stop for a moment.
"At the end of the day they get to go home and be with their families," she continued. "Gianna does not have a father. He will never see her grow up, graduate, he will never walk her down the aisle. If there's a problem she's having and she needs her dad, she does not have that anymore. I'm here for my baby. and I'm here for George. Because I want justice for him. I want justice for him because he was good. No matter what anybody thinks.
"He was good and this is the proof that he was a good man."
Unable to bring Floyd back and forced to carry on, all that's left for those who loved him is the pursuit of justice, his loved ones and their attorneys said.
"It's a circle, because it's held against that young African-American child when they don't have a parent, when they don't have a father," L. Chris Stewart of Atlanta-based Stewart Trial Attorneys said. "Now we're somehow less than equal because we're missing that dad. Well this is going to be the reason that Gianna is missing that dad. Through no fault of her own, through no fault of his. This helps that cycle and it has to end."
Jackson pointed to the fact that Floyd's death was recorded and asked why that is not enough in this case.
"Why is it not that simple when someone is getting ... murdered?" he said. "Why do we have to see her pain, why do we have to see a daughter get raised without her father?"
And so his fight in the wake of Floyd's death is two-fold: to be there for Gianna and to ensure the death of the friend who was like family be not in vain.
"There's a lot of stuff you said that he's going to miss that I'm going to be there for," Jackson said to Washington. "I'm going to walk her down the aisle. I'm gonna be there for her. I'm going to be here to wipe your tears. I'm going to be here for you and Gigi. Floyd may not be here but I'm here for her, I'm here to get justice and we're going to get justice for my brother.
"My brother's daughter has to live without him," he said. "Look at the tears. I'm through crying, I'm ready to fight, I'm ready to get justice for my brother."