Jim Brown, a Pro Football Hall of Famer who was an unstoppable running back and quit at the height of his brilliant career to be an actor and a prominent civil rights advocate in the 1960s, has passed away. He was 87.
A spokeswoman for his family said he died peacefully in his Los Angeles home on Thursday night with his wife, Monique, next to him.
Monique Brown posted on Instagram on Friday: “He was a football star, an actor, and an activist to the world. But to us, he was a loving grandfather, father, and husband. We are heartbroken.”
Brown was one of the first superstars of football. He won the NFL MVP award in 1965 and broke many records in his short career from 1957 to 1965.
He led the Cleveland Browns to their last NFL championship in 1964 and then retired at his peak to pursue acting. He starred in over 30 movies, such as The Dirty Dozen and Any Given Sunday.
Brown was a fast and strong runner who made the game more popular on TV.
He also used his voice and influence to fight for racial justice.
NBA star LeBron James said: “I hope every Black athlete learns about this amazing man and how he changed our lives. Jim Brown, we stand on your shoulders.”
In 1967, Brown hosted The Cleveland Summit, where he gathered the top Black athletes of the country, like Bill Russell and Lew Alcindor (later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), to back Muhammad Ali’s refusal to go to Vietnam.
Later in his life, he helped reduce gang violence in LA and created Amer-I-Can in 1988, a program to assist inner-city youth and ex-convicts.