Floyd had previously left prison after a 2009 armed robbery conviction and several previous arrests. But those who knew Floyd say he had turned his life around.
Floyd moved from Houston to Minnesota with a Christian work program. He wanted to attain certification as a truck driver and complete drug rehab, where he met White. Over the years, he worked several jobs in Minnesota—as a Salvation Army security guard at Harbor Lights Center, as a truck driver, and in security at Conga Latin Bistro. He lost that job when the restaurant shut down because of COVID-19.
White says Floyd was about to start working with him at Men Against Destruction—Defending Against Drugs and Social Disorder (MAD DADS)—in an outreach job like White’s: teaching safety skills for the coronavirus pandemic and signing people up for job training, housing help, and mentoring.
Floyd met the president of the Minneapolis MAD DADS chapter when he volunteered there to help feed the homeless. White expected to see Floyd last Sunday for an event he’d signed up for at MAD DADS, but Floyd didn’t show up. The next day, Floyd died.
In Houston, before moving to Minnesota, Floyd got involved with Resurrection Church in the Third Ward, a historically black area known for social activism.
At the time, Justin Bouldin, now a pastor in Sanford, N.C., was completing an 18-month church-planting residency with Resurrection Church in Houston. He met Floyd in August 2015 at a 3-on-3 basketball tournament Resurrection hosted. Floyd had already been helping the church for years in his neighborhood, trying to be a bridge to the ward’s housing project known as “the Bricks.”
Bouldin sat down next to the 6-foot, 6-inch Floyd—a former high school and college athlete—and introduced himself. He soon realized “Big Floyd” was one of the keys to accessing the neighborhood: “He was what we call in the church ‘a person of peace’ ... He was that guy who gave them that all-access pass to the neighborhood.”
Floyd often helped at the church: He set out chairs, unloaded equipment, and lugged the baptistry trough to the yard and filled it with water. Bouldin remembers Floyd saying about the church and its outreach: “We need more of this here ... especially for the youth, man, like real bad.”
Bouldin saw Floyd form deep relationships with church leaders and encourage others in his neighborhood: “There was evidence of God working in his life ... He had a genuine, authentic desire to follow Jesus in his everyday life and was trying to figure out how to do that.”
Ronnie Lillard, a Christian rapper performing under the name Reconcile, talked about Floyd during a livestreamed discussion Friday from Legacy Disciple, a Christian ministry. Lillard said he has hope for the future of race relations: “I pray his death would not be in vain.”
P.T. Ngwolo, Floyd’s former pastor in Houston, agreed: “[Floyd] has an influence even now to bring people to Christ ... We can’t love God without loving our neighbor.”