AVON PARK, Fla. — George Floyd was remembered as a “good guy” and a good player by his former coach and classmate at a Florida community college he attended in the mid-1990s.
“He was a good athlete, and a good person,” George Walker told WTVT. “I think for George, being in Avon Park was probably, trying to shift his lifestyle from being in a big city to a small town like Avon Park.”
Floyd, 46, died Monday after he was detained for questioning regarding a possible forgery in progress. Video of his death, caught by bystanders showed a Minneapolis police officer holding his knee to Floyd’s neck for more than five minutes as Floyd pleaded for air.
Floyd was 6 feet 7 inches tall and a forward-center from Houston who started as a freshman at South Florida Community College (known as South Florida State College since 2012) in Avon Park. Walker, was familiar with the Houston native from his days as an assistant at the University of Houston and recruited him to the central Florida college.
The coach’s wife, Gloria Walker, said the couple spent a good deal of time with the players away from the court. Floyd was one of them.
“We didn’t have a big enough budget with the school to really feed them often, so my husband and I, we took our money and would make family meals, and the kids just loved that,” Walker told WTVT. “When they came to South Florida, they would say to us, ‘We get a bedroom all to ourselves?’ They were very appreciative.”
Gerald Snell, who attended classes with Floyd, remembered “a very humble, a very soft-spoken gentleman.”
Snell said Floyd and George Walker would attend his church sometimes and would be asked to help out in several projects.
“They would ask me, ‘Did I know a lot of strong men,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, I got a whole team,’” Walker told WTSP. “So, we were replacing the pews in the church, so we came over one night and took all the old pews out."
Floyd received an award as the Panthers’ outstanding rebounder in 1994, The Tampa Tribune reported. The school no longer has a basketball program, according to the South Florida Community College website.
Snell said he was “just totally blown away” when he heard about Floyd’s death.
“This, this has to stop. Somewhere. It has to stop now," Snell told WTVT. "He was not someone who deserved this. He was a human being. Regardless of his skin color.”
“I didn’t think a person could get treated like that,” Walker told WTSP. “... You would think something like this would be in 1950."
Gloria Walker said her son recognized Floyd in an Instagram post of the video.
“My son was screaming through the phone, ‘That’s our George! That’s our George!’” Gloria Walker told WTVT. “Once we saw a close-up view of the video, we saw it was him. It saddens us. George was a good guy.”
Cox Media Group