Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown, the unstoppable running back who retired at the peak of his brilliant career to become an actor as well as a prominent civil rights advocate during the 1960s, has died. He was 87.
A spokeswoman for Brown’s family said he passed away peacefully in his Los Angeles home on Thursday night with his wife, Monique, by his side.
His wife, Monique Brown, announced his death on Instagram.
“It is with profound sadness that I announce the passing of my husband, Jim Brown,”
His wife, Monique Brownwrote
“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.”
“It’s impossible to describe the profound love and gratitude we feel for having the opportunity to be a small piece of Jim’s incredible life and legacy,” the Cleveland Browns, the only team he played for in the NFL, said in a statement.
“We mourn his passing, but celebrate the indelible light he brought to the world.”
One of the greatest players in football history and one of the game’s first superstars, Brown was chosen the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1965 and shattered the league’s record books in a short career spanning 1957-65.
One of pro football’s first superstars, Brown was a wrecking ball while leading the league in rushing for eight of his nine seasons with the Cleveland Browns.
He never missed a game, playing in 118 straight before his sudden retirement in 1965 — after being named Most Valuable Player.
Brown led the Browns to their last championship in 1964 before quitting football in his prime at age 30 to make movies. He appeared in more than 30 films, including “Any Given Sunday” and “The Dirty Dozen.”
A powerful runner with speed and endurance, Brown’s arrival sparked the game’s burgeoning popularity on television and he remained an indomitable figure well after his playing days ended.
Brown was also a champion for Black Americans and used his platform and voice to fight for equality.
“I hope every Black athlete takes the time to educate themselves about this incredible man and what he did to change all of our lives,” NBA star LeBron James said. “We all stand on your shoulders Jim Brown. If you grew up in Northeast Ohio and were Black, Jim Brown was a God.”
In June 1967, Brown organized “The Cleveland Summit,” a meeting of the nation’s top Black athletes, including Bill Russell and Lew Alcindor, who later became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, to support boxer Muhammad Ali’s fight against serving in Vietnam.