NABJ Sports Task Force’s Ray Richardson Remembers George Floyd As Honest, Hardworking

I was compelled to share this with you after the disheartening news over the past three days regarding George Floyd.

Like many of you, I was angry that another African-American had become an unjustified fatality at the hands of the police, or in this case a knee. I wasn’t aware until the 5 o’clock news Tuesday that the ‘George Floyd’ who had died Monday evening on a street in south Minneapolis was the George Floyd I knew.

George was one of my clients in the CDL truck driving training program I helped run for two years at the YWCA St. Paul (2017-19). What I remember most during his time in our program was how respectful and dedicated he was to getting his Class A License.

Every two weeks, I would give $25 gas cards to our participants to help them get back and forth to the truck driving school we partnered with. George was always so appreciative of the gas cards and other resources we provided in the program. He often talked about how he had moved from Houston to get a new start in Minnesota. Our CDL program had become one of his lifelines to make a better way for himself.

George got his Class A permit and had started his behind-the-wheel training, but he didn’t finish the work to get his Class A License. He told me he had to miss some training time because he needed to work to improve his income. I re-scheduled George twice to resume his behind-the-wheel training, but each time he was unable to finish because of his work schedule.

I remember George being upfront with me about his situation. He was apologetic that he couldn’t finish. I told him “Do what you gotta do.” The fact that George talked to me about his need to work left me with everlasting respect for him. He could have disappeared and just left our staff hanging, but he didn’t do that.

I’ll always remember George for the way he showed appreciation for the opportunity to get a Class A License. There were the chats we had about basketball and when he was a power forward at Yates High School in Houston. George was also a standout tight end on Yates’ football team. The first time I saw George, I knew he must have been an athlete. He was a muscular 6-foot-4 and looked like he could still power his way to the basket.

I wasn’t surprised to see in TV reports that George had been working steady as a security guard at the Conga Latin Bistro restaurant in downtown Minneapolis. George gave up his CDL training to be a dedicated employee.

It’s so sad that the dreams George had for a better life in Minnesota, and the plans he was making, have come to a wrongful end. It’s also painful that my last image of George is seeing him lying on a street with a knee on his neck.

That is not the way I will remember George. My memories of this good guy will always be much better than that.

Ray Richardson has been an NABJ member since 1986 and is a founding member of the NABJ Sports Task Force.

Ray Richardson is an on-air personality and sports reporter at KMOJ-FM in Minneapolis. Also serves as a job developer for Urban League Twin Cities, a community service organization in Minneapolis. The Chicago native has been a sportswriter for 40-plus years with the Chicago Defender, Phoenix Gazette and St. Paul Pioneer Press. Covered the NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball and college football and basketball. Richardson is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and a founding member of the NABJ Sports Task Force.