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Ex-NBA player Stephen Jackson mourns best friend George Floyd: Video 'destroyed me'

Jackson said that when he was first sent the video he thought it was just "another black man getting murdered by the police," before realizing it was Floyd, whom he called "Twin."
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Former NBA player Stephen Jackson is used to people sending him videos showing black men brutalized by police. On Tuesday, he didn't immediately realize that the man in the latest video was his best friend.

"It just destroyed me. I haven’t been the same since I seen it," Jackson told Craig Melvin on NBC's "TODAY" show on Thursday.

Jackson said he called Floyd "Twin," after the two noticed their resemblance when they met in Texas.

"The first question we asked: 'Who's your daddy, Who's your daddy?' And it went from there," he said. "We always hung together, every time I went to Houston, it was my first stop to pick him up."

"Being a professional athlete, so many people abuse your friendship and your kindness, and he was one of those guys that genuinely supported me," Jackson said. "You don’t have many people that genuinely support you without any motives, and Floyd was that guy."

Since Floyd's death, Jackson has posted about his friend on Instagram nearly 20 times.

Jackson's girlfriend's mom sent him the video because "we talk about these type of things all the time," he said.

The footage showed a white Minneapolis police officer with his knee on Floyd's neck as Floyd pleaded, "Please, please, please, I can't breathe."

Bystanders begged the officer to remove his knee, before and after Floyd fell silent. The officer did not move for at least eight minutes, at which point paramedics carried Floyd away. He was later pronounced dead.

Jackson said on the "TODAY" show, "I’m thinking that it’s just another video she’s sending me — another black man getting murdered by the police." But then he saw he had 50 messages. The first one he opened read: "Did you see what they did to Twin in Minnesota?"

"I jumped up, screamed, scared my daughter and almost broke my hand punching stuff because I was so mad," Jackson said. "I’m the type of guy, I get a full face of tears when I see a homeless man on the street that I can’t help. So let alone my best friend on TV for the world to see getting killed over a fraud charge."

Jackson said he was especially upset to hear on the video Floyd calling out for his mother, who has been dead for two years, after begging the police officer to take his knee off his neck.

"Mama, Mama," Floyd cries shortly before falling silent.

"It hurt, man," Jackson said. "It hurt because I knew that was a cry for help. I’m a black man, and I’m a strong black man and I know Floyd. That’s a cry for help. We don’t scream our mother’s name like that unless we know something is wrong and our life is in jeopardy and we can’t control it," Jackson said.

Floyd also called out for his children, Jackson said. "I was talking to his daughter’s mother yesterday and the whole time I’m talking to her the daughter is screaming. She has to see this, the whole world has to see this and she has to deal with this for the rest of her life. It’s just not right."

Jackson said he hopes Floyd's death will be a turning point. "George Floyd's name is going to be remembered because we’re going to get change. Change is going to start with George Floyd," Jackson said. "This is wrong. I don’t stand for what’s wrong. I stand for what’s right, And I’m going to get justice for my friend."

The four officers involved in the incident were fired Tuesday night. Floyd's family is calling for them to face charges, and on Wednesday, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey called for swift charges against the officer who kept his knee firmly on Floyd's neck for about eight minutes.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the FBI are both independently investigating Floyd's death, with the U.S. Attorney's Office's assigning prosecutors to the probe. Minneapolis police said they are cooperating with the investigations.

The city saw a second night of volatile demonstrations Wednesday night, which escalated with a fatal shooting near the site of the demonstrations, widespread looting, fires and the deployment of tear gas.

Gov. Tim Walz late Wednesday called it an "extremely dangerous situation" and urged residents to leave the area. Mayor Frey on Thursday morning requested help from the National Guard.

Jackson said Floyd would "be happy that the people are fighting for him, but that’s not the way he would want them to do it."

"Floyd would want everybody standing together and fighting for justice, and that’s it. He’s not the type of person to promote violence," Jackson said. "What we’re seeing right now, this is not what Floyd would want."