Vernon Forrest 38-year-old former two-division champion, who rose to stardom when he became the first boxer to defeat Shane Mosley, was shot to death Saturday night. Forrest’s untimely death caused intense reaction within the close knit boxing community, one that is still coping with the violent deaths of two other former champions.
The Crime is what police are calling an attempted robbery in Atlanta. Police Sgt. Lisa Keyes stated in an on e-mail Sunday that Forrest was shot several times in the back on a street just southwest of downtown. There are no suspects at this time.
What is known is that the 1992 Olympian was in the company of his 10 year old godson when he stopped at a gas station, to put air in car tires, when a man approached him and asked him for money. When Forrest pulled his wallet out, the man grabbed it an ran. Forrest, followed in pursuit, according to Forrest’s manager, Charles Watson.
The man was armed, as was Forrest. Shots were exchanged, though when the man turned a corner, Forrest
gave up chase and turned around to walk back to the gas station. What Forrest didn’t see was the man returning, at which point firing 8 bullets into Vernon Forrest, all to the back. According to Atlanta police, the shooter along with a second person then left the scene in a red Monte Carlo. Forrest was pronounced dead at 1:29 am EDT by the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Fulton County medical examiner Michele Stauffenberg confirmed, the case was a homicide and that the autopsy showed Forrest died from “multiple gunshot wounds involving the torso and thigh.”
Yet another lost to senseless violence.
HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg, who had helped put on eight of Forrest’s fights had this to say,
“Maybe Vernon’s lasting legacy will be for Americans everywhere to rise up and end this kind
of senseless violence.”
While the murder of Vernon Forrest will be mourned in the Boxing world, and he will be sorely missed by his fans, he biggest void lies amidst the most lasting of his legacy. According to friends and family close to Forrest,
while he may have made his living as a Boxer, his true passion, and earthly calling was to tending and caring for disabled and mentally challenged children. Forrest’s passions began with his desire to help the mentally challenged.
Longtime publicist Kelly Swanson describes Forrest as “a caring humanitarian who always stood up for
what he believed to be the fairness of life…It was truly his calling,” she said of his work with children.
“When he wasn’t boxing, this was his full-time job. … When they would see him, they would just light up, and some of them couldn’t even talk. Vernon was very much involved. He’d have some of the kids over to his house on Sundays. They were part of his family.” Swanson said.
In taking care of those he felt needed it most, Forrest lay the planning and funding for charity and assistance to those without. He helped to create and establish Destiny’s Child, Inc (D.C.I.) a group home that provides housing and assistance to mentally challenged adults. The home also provides 24-hour supervision by trained mental health professionals.
Vernon Forrest, nicknamed ‘The Viper’ will undoubtedly be remembered for many things. Perhaps his impressive Professional Boxing Record, Perhaps the food poisoning that potentially cost him an Olympic gold medal. Among his many achievements titles and medals, Vernon Forrest achieved in 38 years what many will never achieve in a given lifetime.
While he may be missed in the arena, he will no doubt be mourned among the children andadults who he offered solace and understanding. Years after Vernon Forrest’s titles go to new faces, some who go on to be champions as he did, one thing will remain just as he left it. A legacy of inspiration, to the people who watched him give back, a place of understanding to those he aided and a even amidst tragic circumstance, a story, a sad one no less.
Vernon Forrest was willing to give to the man who ultimately killed him. The road to his death began with an act of kindness. It’s not everyday you find one who makes his living with his fists and gives back with his heart. Vernon Forrest: a true people’s Champion, dead at 38. Remembered, always.