Kimbo Slice, famed professional mixed martial arts fighter who rose to notoriety via backyard fights posted on YouTube to become one of the sport’s most well-known names, died Monday (June 6) at the age of 42, according to Bellator MMA.
Scott Coker, president of Bellator MMA, confirmed Slice’s death in a statement:
We are all shocked and saddened by the devastating and untimely loss of Kimbo Slice, a beloved member of the Bellator family.
One of the most popular MMA fighters ever, Kimbo was 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. 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.
Born Kevin Ferguson and a high school football standout, Slice rose from homelessness in the late 90s to become one of the Web’s first true viral sensation via backyard fight videos. He soon became a rising professional star of MMA.
Slice had been hospitalized at Northwest Medical Center in Margate, Florida earlier earlier in the day. ESPN reported that a cause of death was still unknown, though a heart attack has been mentioned as the reason for his hospitalization.
In 2009, Slice was a contestant on season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter. The UFC released a statement about him shortly after his passing:
UFC is saddened to learn of the passing of Kevin Ferguson, known to fans around the world as Kimbo Slice.
Slice will forever be a part of UFC history as a contestant on season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter in 2009, and for having fought twice inside the Octagon at The Ultimate Fighter Finale and UFC 113. He carried himself as a true professional during his time in our organization.
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.
UFC offers its sincere condolences to Slice’s family, friends and teammates at American Top Team.
Hip-hop fans and artists reacted online to the news, with Big Boi reacting with shock at the breaking news.
“What?” the Atlanta rap veteran tweeted. “#RIP #KimboSlice sheesh.”
The Game told TMZ that Slice was an inspiration.
“I just remember watching him in the backyard, y’know–that was my favorite memory of Kimbo.”
“Just being an African American and coming from the hood,” Game said. “I think that Kimbo Slice is one of those stories that gives people hope.
“Even from the backyard on YouTube, you can be successful and become a household name. My condolences to his family and his kids and everything. But just another one of those stories, another one of those people that made it, turned nothing into something and became just huge.”
“It’s sad, it’s tragic when stuff like that happens and people die too early,” Game added. “Kimbo was 42; i’m 36 and it’s like ‘damn.’ And Prince was 50, and Michael Jackson was 50 and Whitney Houston–it’s like, how much longer do you really have? The lesson that it teaches you is just to hold to life and your loved ones and let everybody know you love ’em and live your life to the fullest because you never know.”
Watch The Game discuss Kimbo Slice’s impact on the community.
And check out Big Boi’s reaction to the news of Kimbo Slice’s passing.
— Big Boi (@BigBoi) June 7, 2016
— Big Boi (@BigBoi) June 7, 2016