Brown was 'little kid in big body'

Teacher says 18-year-old had to break free from being around 'too many thugs'
Associated Press
Aug 24, 2014

Michael Brown Jr. was on the verge of starting college, eager to launch himself into the adult world. Instead, on Monday he'll be mourned at his funeral, more than two weeks after his fatal shooting by a white police officer— an act that ignited days of violent protests and reawakened racial tensions that still linger in the nation.

Brown, who was unarmed when he was killed, became an instant symbol of racial injustice as protesters flooded into the streets after his death. Civil rights leaders said the shooting in this predominantly black St. Louis suburb revived long simmering questions about police treatment of minorities across the country.

During more than a week of demonstrations — marred by Molotov cocktails and billowing clouds of tear gas — Brown's name and face were frequently visible on T-shirts and picket signs. Some also chanted: "I AM MIKE BROWN!"

Even as the details of what happened during the Aug. 9 confrontation remain unclear, a portrait has emerged of the 18-year-old Brown.

Family and friends recall a young man built like a lineman — 6-foot-3, nearly 300 pounds — with a gentle, joking manner. An aspiring rapper who dubbed himself "Big Mike." A fan of computer games, Lil Wayne, Drake, the movie, "Grown Ups 2" and the TV show "Family Guy." A kid who was good at fixing things. A struggling student who buckled down to finish his courses, don his green graduation gown with red sash and cross the stage in August to pick up his diploma.

"My fondest memory of Mike is seeing a big kid coming in with a smile on his face, his headphones on and a big can of iced tea ... and say, 'Hey, Coach K, What's going on? .... What do you need me to do this morning?'" recalls Charlie Kennedy, a Normandy High School health and physical education teacher. He says Brown was the kind of kid who'd hold court with "four or five kids around him, cutting up and having a good time."

Kennedy became acquainted with Brown while running a credit recovery program the young man was enrolled in that allowed him to catch up so he could graduate with his class. Brown, he says, could be led astray by kids who were bad influences but by spring, he became focused on getting his degree.

Kennedy also would bring in recording equipment Brown could use for rapping — he wanted to perform and learn a trade to help support himself. "His biggest goal was to be part of something," the teacher adds. "He didn't like not knowing where to fit in life. ... He was kind-hearted, a little kid in a big body. He was intimidating looking, but I don't think he ever was disrespectful to me."

Brown loved music even as a young child. Ophelia Troupe, his art teacher for five years in elementary school, remembers a reserved, polite little boy — he'd always respond "yes ma'am" or "no ma'am." He kept to himself but lit up when she'd play her son's beats — which make up the backbone of hip-hop and rap songs — in class as a reward if the students behaved.

"Michael was the one to say, "Be quiet so Ms. Troupe can play the beats,'" she recalls.

Troupe hadn't seen Brown for several years until they crossed paths at his high school graduation. After the ceremony, they hugged and he told her he'd like to be a rapper and asked if her son would work with him.

Slightly more than a week later, Brown was shot while walking down the street with a friend. Police have said a scuffle broke out with Officer Darren Wilson after he asked the two young men to move. Some witnesses have reported seeing Brown's arms in the air — an act of surrender. An autopsy concluded he'd been shot at least six times.

Ferguson police identified Wilson at the same time they released a video of an alleged theft showing Brown snatch some cigars in a convenience store just minutes before he was killed. In the video, Brown is shown grabbing a clerk by the shirt and forcefully pushing him into a display rack.

Brown's family angrily denounced that video as character assassination.

They've portrayed Brown as "a gentle giant," who liked to post photos on his Facebook page of himself with young relatives, a kid who tried football his sophomore year but abandoned the idea before his first game, fearing he might hurt someone.

"He was funny, silly," his father, Michael Brown Sr., recently said. "Any problems that were going on or any situation — there wasn't nothing he couldn't solve. He'd bring people together."

Tim Sneed, a 23-year-old neighbor of Brown's grandmother, says the young man was so low-key he seemed almost invisible. "When he came to my house you wouldn't even notice he was there," he says. "That's how quiet he was."

Brown had been staying at the apartment of his grandmother, Desuirea Harris, this summer. She said Brown was excited about his future.

"My grandson never even got into a fight," she says. "He was just looking forward to getting on with his life. He was on his way."

Brown was preparing to attend Vatterott College, where he planned to study to become a heating and air-conditioning technician.

Kennedy, his teacher, says Brown had to break free from being around kids who "caused him to be in the wrong place at the wrong time a lot of times. .... He had been around too many thugs."

After the two had many talks, Kennedy says, Brown became more serious and was the first one at school at 7 a.m. "Mike was getting ready to do something with his life," he adds.

As friends and family now prepare for Brown's funeral, a memorial stands on Canfield Drive at the site of the shooting. A sign reads: "Hands Up, Don't Shoot, Aug. 9, 2014, RIP Michael Brown."

Brown's great uncle, pastor Charles Ewing, who will deliver the eulogy, remembers a conversation he had with his nephew.

"He said, 'One day the whole world is going to know my name.' Isn't that something? Not knowing that this was going to happen, and that's what touched me — 'the whole world will know my name.' "

 

Comments

YoMamma

He looked like a real gentle person when he robbed the store! But I bet that was not his fault.

sugar

All actions have consequences, too bad we learn some too late.

Tyrion

"Little kid in a big body" bag. No still means no and freeze still means freeze.

ladydye_5

"Little kid in a big body" that shattered an orbital socket with one hit.

deertracker

That story has been debunked.

MiddleRight

Yes, right here.
http://abcnews.go.com/US/ferguso...
If this is "debunked" what photo are they showing the grand jury?
Please note this is from ABC News.

The Big Dog's back

Right wingnuts heads will explode showing them facts deer. Pop. Boom. It's started already.

Mystery_Cheese

So someone links an article where the information is from an "anonymous" source, and you link 2 more articles that are also from an "anonymous" source? I'd say both of you need to reserve your judgments about what happened until the court case starts revealing these unknown, but important details.

YoMamma

Don't let the details get in the way though!

The Big Dog's back

I'm sure am glad you right wingnuts have all the "facts". Why are we even convening a grand jury?

freespeech1

Um puppy poo the video showed him shove the store owner around. Wake up. Keep defending trash its what u libs do.

freespeech1

Hey puppy what about Dillon Taylor? Unarmed white man shot by black police officer! Wheres your outrage? Why didn't obummer send some whitehouse aids to that funeral?

http://www.inquisitr.com/1430653...

8ballinthesidepocket

Ever get a response from Puppy Poop? Guess what, not a single store was trashed, no looting, no gun fire, molatov cocktails, tear gas...NOTHING and we all know why!!

FalconBall

Good kids do stupid things.

Even the worst people have a good side.

The whole night changed the lives of far too many people and regardless of what anyone here may think we will never know what really happened to cause this horrible outcome for his family and the police officer and his family as well.

CommonsenseNow

Wise sentiment. Something i would say. Everyone has a good and bad side. The question is ... how bad is the bad?

knowitall

Y'all need to settle down and let the facts come forward before presuming innocence or guilt. The young man did a stupid thing. Did he deserve to get shot. Let the facts point all to the truth. Some of you are pretty callous in your comments regarding the dead man.

YoMamma

Just for fun. Let's say the facts come out and the shooting is found justified due to this fine mans actions. Will everyone who has condemned the officer eat their words? Just wondering.

getit right be4...

Did they eat there words with TM? Nope and I don't believe they will ever eat them.

The Big Dog's back

That's a stupid example. zim turned out to be a fine outstanding citizen, didn't he. How many times has he been arrested since then?

Julian

My question is this: if the officer is found justified, what does that say about our country?

Donegan

It might say that if a 6'4 300 pound guy that bust you up turns around and is going to mess you up some more, you are allowed to defend yourself. It may also mean the cop over reacted and killed a kid but all the facts are not out.
If you are referring to the racial aspect of this case it points out that race baiters will show up anytime they can get some mileage out of color and division. If this society was truly Color blind Al Sharpton ,Jesse Jackson and posters on here (Big dog, Coaster, Deer )would be out of a job and might have to find something constructive to do. So until we get rid of the morons and gullible who are easily whipped into a self righteous frenzy about something they know nothing about, This stupidity will continue.

lifetimeresident

6 foot 3? 300 lbs? I would shoot him or even a woman coming at me beating me up. Dont care about any color either. If I was a policeman.

Whiskey Tango F...

HATER! Beating up on black, overweight, women are we??? That's how bad the media twists words in our country to get a response. Go on google maps and see how far San Francisco is from napa and then read the head lines! Sad sad sad!

deertracker

All those screaming let's wait for the facts aren't waiting. I will not define him by one incident. There's more to all of us than that. Whatever happened it has been proven that at the time he was killed he was not resisting. Whiskey is correct. You youtubers just have to watch it.

Regardless of what happened the actions after the incident by the looters and the police is totally unacceptable.

Yes Yomamma, I think most will eat their words if proven wrong by a fair investigation. Will you eat yours if it deemed unjustified?

mimi's word

How about the drunk driver that kills someone or the drug addict that kills someone or the mental ill person that kills someone? doesn't their one act define them? They were drunk or high or ill and killed someone. Their actions put them in a postition to do what they did. Unfortunately his actions put him in a place for the wrong thing to happen.

deertracker

There you go again assuming facts not yet presented. The mentally ill person can be defined by their mental illness but the drunk driver was just being irresponsible. IF he put his hands up what does that tell you? Black men don't have to be doing wrong to end up dead by a cop.

mimi's word

I am not assuming anything. You said "I will not define him by one incident." I was asking what and how do you define the above single situations? Are those people not as responsible for the situations as well? I am tired of anything that happens it is always someone else's fault. And white men end up dead too. No one cares then though.

deertracker

You also said "unfortunately his actions put him in a place for the wrong thing to happen". What actions? Sometimes it is someone else's fault. Seemed like people cared when Burdine died. When Dunn was killed and Limberios too.

The Big Dog's back

deer, you are talking to right wingnut mimi?

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