The legendary Jim Brown has passed away at the age of 87.
Brown, who was the first-ever African-American announcer for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), is one of the greatest athletes in the history of American sports. The former Cleveland Browns running back led the National Football League (NFL) in rushing yards in eight out of his nine professional seasons and is the only back in league history to average 100 rushing yards per game for his career.
On Friday, it was announced that the NFL Hall of Famer passed away Thursday night at his Los Angeles home alongside his wife, Monique. A spokesperson close to the family told the Associated Press which was later confirmed by the Cleveland Browns. It is believed that Brown died of natural causes.
“It is with profound sadness that I announce the passing of my husband, Jim Brown,” Monique Brown shared on Instagram. “He passed peacefully last night at our LA home. To the world he was an activist, actor, and football star. To our family, he was a loving and wonderful husband, father, and grandfather. Our hearts are broken…”
Brown, who helped organize the infamous “Cleveland Summit” in 1967 to support Muhammad Ali’s fight against serving in the Vietnam War, became an accomplished actor and prominent civil rights advocate throughout his early career. Later in life the NFL star worked to help decrease gang violence in the Los Angeles area and eventually founded the Amer-I-Can program, which was set up to help disadvantaged inner-city youth and ex-convicts.
Brown eventually took his talents to mixed martial arts (MMA) in 1993 to provide color commentary alongside Bill Wallace and Kathy Long for UFC’s first pay-per-view (PPV) card in Denver, Colorado. In doing so, Brown became the first-ever African American announcer in UFC history.
“Bill, I’ve been around the toughest fighters in the world in Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, Mike Tyson,” said Brown at the beginning of the UFC 1 card (h/t MMA Junkie). “I’ve been around the greatest NFL players, the tough guys – Dick Butkus, Sam Huff, all of those guys. But I tell you, they could not last in this ring.”
Brown is survived by his wife, Monique, and their two children. He also has three other children from a previous marriage.