• Iran, Russia, Turkey say will jointly enforce Syria ceasefire

    Iran, Russia and Turkey will establish a trilateral mechanism to observe and ensure full compliance with the ceasefire in Syria, prevent any provocations and determine exactly how the ceasefire will work, the three nations said in a joint statement. Concluding the Syria talks in Astana, Tehran, Moscow and Ankara also said they supported the willingness of the armed opposition groups to participate in the next round of negotiations to be held in Geneva on Feb. 8 and the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 2254.

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Our galaxy’s weirdest star, KIC 8462852, is even weirder than previously thought, showing changes never observed before in a star like this.

To quickly recap, last year it was announced that the object experienced dramatic and rapid changes in brightness, which led to the wild speculation that the object was surrounded by an alien megastructure. New observations have shown that there are no aliens around it but the mystery has deepened further still, as historical data suggests that the star has inexplicably dimmed by 14 percent in just over a century.

Researchers Josh Simon and Ben Montet, using observations by NASA’s Kepler space telescope, discovered that KIC 8462852 faded slowly and then suddenly during the four years it was studied.

“Our highly accurate measurements over four years demonstrate that the star really is getting fainter with time,” said Montet, from Caltech, in a statement. "It is unprecedented for this type of star to slowly fade for years, and we don’t see anything else like it in the Kepler data.”

A pre-print of the research was released in August, and is now published in the Astrophysical Journal. In it, the scientists compared KIC 8462852 to 500 similar stars also observed by Kepler. Although they saw a small fraction getting fainter with time, none had dimming episodes as intense.

KIC 8462852, which is also known as Tabby’s star, faded about 1 percent in the first three years of the study, before suddenly dropping another 2 percent more. It then remained stable for the final six months.

“This star was already completely unique because of its sporadic dimming episodes. But now we see that it has other features that are just as strange, both slowly dimming for almost three years and then suddenly getting fainter much more rapidly,” Simon, from the Carnegie Institute of Science, continued.

The six months of dimming in 2012 could be explained by the breakup of a planet or comets, but the apparent long term fading must be something else. And we still don’t know what caused a dramatic change in brightness reported last year.

“It’s a big challenge to come up with a good explanation for a star doing three different things that have never been seen before,” Montet added. “But these observations will provide an important clue to solving the mystery of KIC 8462852.”

For every 100 black women not in jail, there are only 83 black men. The remaining men – 1.5 million of them – are, in a sense, missing.
17 missing black men for every 100 black women
“Missing” men
Among cities with sizable black populations, the largest single gap is in Ferguson, Mo.
40 missing black men for every 100 black women
North Charleston, S.C., has a gap larger than 75 percent of cities.
25 missing black men for every 100 black women
This gap – driven mostly by incarceration and early deaths – barely exists among whites.
1 missing white man for every 100 white women
Figures are for non-incarcerated adults who are 25 to 54.


In New York, almost 120,000 black men between the ages of 25 and 54 are missing from everyday life. In Chicago, 45,000 are, and more than 30,000 are missing in Philadelphia. Across the South — from North Charleston, S.C., through Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi and up into Ferguson, Mo. — hundreds of thousands more are missing.

They are missing, largely because of early deaths or because they are behind bars. Remarkably, black women who are 25 to 54 and not in jail outnumber black men in that category by 1.5 million, according to anUpshot analysis. For every 100 black women in this age group living outside of jail, there are only 83 black men. Among whites, the equivalent number is 99, nearly parity.

African-American men have long been more likely to be locked up and more likely to die young, but the scale of the combined toll is nonetheless jarring. It is a measure of the deep disparities that continue to afflict black men — disparities being debated after a recent spate of killings by the police — and the gender gap is itself a further cause of social ills, leaving many communities without enough men to be fathers and husbands.

Perhaps the starkest description of the situation is this: More than one out of every six black men who today should be between 25 and 54 years old have disappeared from daily life.

“The numbers are staggering,” said Becky Pettit, a professor of sociology at the University of Texas.

And what is the city with at least 10,000 black residents that has the single largest proportion of missing black men? Ferguson, Mo., where afatal police shooting last year led to nationwide protests and a Justice Department investigation that found widespread discrimination against black residents. Ferguson has 60 men for every 100 black women in the age group, Stephen Bronars, an economist, has noted.


The distributions of whites and blacks

Most blacks live in places with a significant shortage of black men.
But most whites live in places with rough parity between white men and women.
38%39%40%41%42%43%44%45%46%47%48%49%50%51%52%53%54%55%56%10%20%30%40%50% of people live in cities that are ...WhitesBlacks
Percent men ?


The gap in North Charleston, site of a police shooting this month, is also considerably more severe than the nationwide average, as is the gap in neighboring Charleston. Nationwide, the largest proportions of missing men generally can be found in the South, although there are also many similar areas across the Midwest and in many big Northeastern cities. The gaps tend to be smallest in the West.

Incarceration and early deaths are the overwhelming drivers of the gap. Of the 1.5 million missing black men from 25 to 54 — which demographers call the prime-age years — higher imprisonment rates account for almost 600,000. Almost 1 in 12 black men in this age group are behind bars, compared with 1 in 60 nonblack men in the age group, 1 in 200 black women and 1 in 500 nonblack women.

Higher mortality is the other main cause. About 900,000 fewer prime-age black men than women live in the United States, according to the census. It’s impossible to know precisely how much of the difference is the result of mortality, but it appears to account for a big part. Homicide, the leading cause of death for young African-American men, plays a large role, and they also die from heart disease, respiratory disease and accidents more often than other demographic groups, including black women.



Where black men are missing

Black men, as a pct. of all black adults
National average, all races
Rates are shown in counties with at least 1,000 prime-age black men and women.


Several other factors — including military deployment overseas and the gender breakdown of black immigrants — each play only a minor role, census data indicates. The Census Bureau’s undercounting of both African-Americans and men also appears to play a role.

The gender gap does not exist in childhood: There are roughly as many African-American boys as girls. But an imbalance begins to appear among teenagers, continues to widen through the 20s and peaks in the 30s. It persists through adulthood.


Rates by age group

10%20%30%40%50% men60%Age 65+55 to 6445 to 5435 to 4425 to 3418 to 2417 & under


The disappearance of these men has far-reaching implications. Their absence disrupts family formation, leading both to lower marriage rates and higher rates of childbirth outside marriage, as research by Kerwin Charles, an economist at the University of Chicago, with Ming-Ching Luoh, has shown.

The black women left behind find that potential partners of the same race are scarce, while men, who face an abundant supply of potential mates, don’t need to compete as hard to find one. As a result, Mr. Charles said, “men seem less likely to commit to romantic relationships, or to work hard to maintain them.”

The imbalance has also forced women to rely on themselves — often alone — to support a household. In those states hit hardest by the high incarceration rates, African-American women have become more likely to work and more likely to pursue their education further than they are elsewhere.

The missing-men phenomenon began growing in the middle decades of the 20th century, and each government census over the past 50 years has recorded at least 120 prime-age black women outside of jail for every 100 black men. But the nature of the gap has changed in recent years.

Since the 1990s, death rates for young black men have dropped more than rates for other groups, notes Robert N. Anderson, the chief of mortality statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both homicides and H.I.V.-related deaths, which disproportionately afflict black men, have dropped. Yet the prison population has soared since 1980. In many communities, rising numbers of black men spared an early death have been offset by rising numbers behind bars.

It does appear as if the number of missing black men is on the cusp of declining, albeit slowly. Death rates are continuing to fall, while the number of people in prisons — although still vastly higher than in other countries — has also fallen slightly over the last five years.


But the missing-men phenomenon will not disappear anytime soon. There are more missing African-American men nationwide than there are African-American men residing in all of New York City — or more than in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Detroit, Houston, Washington and Boston, combined.


Places with the lowest rates

Ferguson, Mo. 37.5%
Shaker Heights, Ohio 38.1%
Highland Springs, Va. 38.3%
Westmont, Calif. 38.3%
Farmington Hills, Mich. 39.0%
Union City, Ga. 39.1%
Euclid, Ohio 39.3%
Oak Park, Mich. 39.3%
East Chicago, Ind. 39.4%
Garfield Heights, Ohio 39.6%

Places with most missing men

New York 43.1% 118,000
Chicago 43.4% 45,000
Philadelphia 42.8% 36,000
Detroit 45.2% 21,000
Memphis 43.6% 21,000
Baltimore 44.0% 19,000
Houston 45.5% 18,000
Charlotte, N.C. 43.3% 15,000
Milwaukee 42.2% 14,000
Dallas 44.8% 13,000
In places with at least 10,000 black residents.



By Carolanne Wright

Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

Meet Dr. Sebi, a pathologist, biochemist and herbalist. He came to the U.S. from Honduras and is on a mission to heal humanity. As it happens, he has been curing some of the most deadly diseases on the planet for almost 30 years. AIDS, cancer, diabetes, lupus and epilepsy are just a few of the ailments he has completely reversed. In fact, he is so committed to his work that he took on the Attorney General of New York in a Supreme Court trial — and won.

Standing Up to the Food and Drug Administration

Back in the 1980’s, Dr. Sebi ran a variety of ads in newspapers like the New York Post, stating: “AIDS has been cured by the Usha Research Institute, and we specialize in cures for Sickle Cell, Lupus, Blindness, Herpes, Cancer and others.” The ad caught the eye of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the agency subsequently sued Dr. Sebi for false advertisement and practicing without a license.



The judge presiding over the case requested that Dr. Sebi provide one witness for each disease he claimed to have cured. When he instead furnished 70 witnesses to support his argument — showing without a doubt that he did in truth heal all the diseases listed in the ad — the judge declared the doctor not guilty on all counts.

Even with his outstanding victory in court, along with testimonials from celebrities and a multitude of people cured by his method, Dr. Sebi’s protocol is still suppressed to this day.

Healing with Electric Foods and Botanicals

The basis behind Dr. Sebi’s approach is clearing the body of excessive mucous, which is believed to be the root of all disease. He explains:

“Our research reveals that all manifestation of disease finds it genesis when and where the mucous membrane has been compromised. For example, if there is excess mucous in the bronchial tubes, the disease is bronchitis; if it is in the lungs, the disease is pneumonia; in the pancreatic duct, it is diabetes; in the joints, arthritis.”

Moreover, mucous in the retina of the eye will cause blindness; if it is found around the thyroid gland, cancer of the thyroidis the result. Basically, disease will arise in the body wherever there’s an accumulation of this stagnant toxin.

According to Dr. Sebi, blood and starch in the diet are the main reasons we can be overrun with clogging plaque. He believes starch is a chemical that wreaks havoc on health, mainly because it causes acidity within the body. The same with animal products. On the whole, an acid body will create toxic mucous and congest the system — leading to inflammation, whereas an alkaline pH will do just the opposite and support vitality.

You may have guessed by this point that consuming an alkaline diet is key. But Dr. Sebi takes his protocol a step further by recommending fasting, along with taking botanical remedies which detox each cell and replace depleted minerals.

The remedies are classified as natural vegetation cell food and nourish cells at a very deep level. Because of this, many find their appetite disappears when they begin using the botanicals. Dr. Sebi notes:

“Although the natural vegetation cell food compounds were designed to extract mucus from a given area of the body, it is also necessary for the body to be cleansed as a whole. What makes our compounds unique is the manner in which they work to cleanse and nourish the entire body.”

The healing diet is found below. It’s important to keep in mind that “Dr. Sebi has recommended the foods that are listed here for the reversal of disease for over 30 years. If your favorite food is missing from the list, our research and results have proven that it has no nutritional value and may be detrimental to your health.” [source]


  • Amaranth greens – same as Callaloo, a variety of Spinach
  • Avocado
  • Bell Peppers
  • Chayote (Mexican Squash)
  • Cucumber
  • Dandelion greens
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Green banana
  • Izote – cactus flower/ cactus leaf – grows naturally in California
  • Kale
  • Lettuce (all, except Iceberg)
  • Mushrooms (all, except Shiitake)
  • Nopales – Mexican Cactus
  • Okra
  • Olives
  • Onions
  • Poke salad – greens
  • Purslane (Verdolaga)
  • Sea Vegetables (wakame/dulse/arame/hijiki/nori)
  • Squash
  • Tomato – cherry and plum only
  • Tomatillo
  • Turnip greens
  • Watercress
  • Zucchini

Dr Sebi The Man Who Cures AIDS Cancer Diabetes and More - Vegetables


(No canned or seedless fruits)

  • Apples
  • Bananas – the smallest one or the Burro/mid-size (original banana)
  • Berries – all varieties- Elderberries in any form – no cranberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherries
  • Currants
  • Dates
  • Figs
  • Grapes- seeded
  • Limes (key limes preferred with seeds)
  • Mango
  • Melons- seeded
  • Orange (Seville or sour preferred, difficult to find)
  • Papayas
  • Peaches
  • Pear
  • Plums
  • Prickly Pear (Cactus Fruit)
  • Prunes
  • Raisins –seeded
  • Soft Jelly Coconuts
  • Soursops – (Latin or West Indian markets)
  • Tamarind

Herbal Teas

  • Allspice
  • Anise
  • Burdock
  • Chamomile
  • Elderberry
  • Fennel
  • Ginger
  • Raspberry
  • Tila

Spices and Seasonings

Mild flavors

  • Basil
  • Bay leaf
  • Cloves
  • Dill
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Savory
  • Sweet Basil

Pungent and Spicy Flavors

  • Achiote
  • Cayenne/ African Bird Pepper
  • Coriander (Cilantro)
  • Habanero
  • Onion Powder
  • Sage

Salty Flavors

  • Pure Sea Salt
  • Powdered Granulated Seaweed (Kelp/Dulce/Nori – has “sea taste”)

Sweet Flavors

  • 100% Pure Agave Syrup – (from cactus)
  • Date Sugar

Dr Sebi The Man Who Cures AIDS Cancer Diabetes and More - Grains


  • Amaranth
  • Fonio
  • Kamut
  • Quinoa
  • Rye
  • Spelt
  • Teff
  • Wild Rice

Nuts and Seeds – (includes Nut and Seed Butters)

  • Hemp Seed
  • Raw Sesame Seeds
  • Raw Sesame Tahini Butter
  • Walnuts
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Pine Nuts


  • Olive Oil (Do not cook)
  • Coconut Oil (Do not cook)
  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Sesame Oil
  • Hempseed Oil
  • Avocado Oil

Also, drinking plenty of fluids to flush out toxins is crucial. Dr. Sebi recommends consuming a full gallon of purified water a day. He also advises against using the microwave.

Learn more about Dr. Sebi’s healing method here.

Dr Sebi Eat 2 Live or Eat 2 Die – Full 1/2


Article sources:

Please note: this article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

In recent years, no company has been more associated with evil than Monsanto. But why?

Illustration by Benjamin Karis-Nix

The house was raised above the ground, like a mushroom or a white ray gun, its rooms radiating out like spokes of a wheel. It was 1957 and this was the “House of the Future,” a prototype modular house created by Monsanto, in collaboration with M.I.T. to help solve the housing crisis baby boom America was in the middle of. Not coincidentally, the house was made of plastic, one of Monsanto’s products at the time.

“They imagined fast subdivisions of this house, like Levittown,” says Gary Van Zante, curator of architecture and design at the M.I.T. Museum.

While that never happened, Walt Disney did select it as an exhibition at his new Disneyland. For 10 years, until it was torn down, the chemical giant’s creation stood peacefully in The Happiest Place On Earth, where millions of people marveled at it.

It is safe to say that if Monsanto’s pod house were erected there today, it would not be such a happy home.

Over the past decade, Monsanto has become a pop cultural bogeyman, the face of corporate evil. The company and its genetically modified organism (GMO) seeds have been the subject of muckraking documentaries (“Forks Over Knives” and “GMO OMG“), global protests, and assaults by everybody from environmental activists to “The Colbert Report.” Facebook and other social media are awash in memes (here’s a blog devoted to the topic) and hashtags like #monsantoevil. And it seems everyone, from your plumber to your mother, has an opinion about the company. This past year, when Monsanto bought a weather data company called the Climate Corporation for about $1 billion, David Friedberg, the company’s CEO, found himself bending over backwards justifying his decision to sell.  (As if the money wasn’t enough reason!) Friedberg told the New Yorker that even his father disapproved: “His first reaction was, ‘Monsanto? The most evil company in the world? I thought you were trying to make the world a BETTER place?’” (Friedberg also felt compelled to write a letter to his entire staff, laying out his rationale for Monsanto’s aptness as a new owner.) In short, you don’t need to have a degree in marketing and communications to see that Monsanto has a PR problem.

How did this happen? How did Monsanto go from the future of American innovation to a late-night punchline? Critics point to their role in GMOs, creating “frankenfood,” but Monsanto is not the only company that produces genetically modified organisms. And though it has a bad environmental record, so do lots of companies. Also, unlike, say, other corporate villains like General Motors (the antihero ofMichael Moore’s “Roger & Me”) Monsanto is not a consumer facing company, and its actual biotechnological workings are mystifying to the average person. Yet somehow it manages to serve as a focal point for popular fear and rage about everything from political pandering to globalization. Why?

The answer, of course, is complicated but numerous experts point to a fuse: the bungled launch of GMO seeds in Europe in the late ‘90s that progressed into a vicious war of disinformation that shows little sign of abating.

If you set aside for a moment from the usual debate about whether GMOs are bad or good, a curious fact emerges. For a rich and powerful company that seems to excel at nearly everything it does, Monsanto sucks in one important aspect: spin control.

Obviously, Willy Wonka got Monsanto treatment.1
Philosoraptor gets in on the anti-Monsanto action.2
Many memes reference a piece of legislation dubbed Monsanto Protection Act, which addressed issue of crops whose legality was challenged.3
Jesus: not a fan of Monsanto, at least according to Facebook memes.4
Even Xzibit gets pulled into the GMO fray.5
Obviously, Willy Wonka got Monsanto treatment.
Philosoraptor gets in on the anti-Monsanto action.
Many memes reference a piece of legislation dubbed Monsanto Protection Act, which addressed issue of crops whose legality was challenged.
Jesus: not a fan of Monsanto, at least according to Facebook memes.
Even Xzibit gets pulled into the GMO fray.
Let the Record Reflect

Before Monsanto became the face of industrial agriculture, it courted controversy in other ways — namely,as a chemical company. Founded in 1901, Monsanto was one of a handful of companies that produced Agent Orange, and its main poison, Dioxin. It sold DDT, PCBs, the controversial dairy cow hormone, rBGH, and the cancer-linked Aspartame sweetener.

Starting in the ‘80s, however, Monsanto shed its chemicals and plastics divisions, bought up seed companies, invested in bio genetics research, and ultimately reincorporated itself as an agricultural company. Its first GMO product, the patented Glyphosate-resistant, “Round-Up Ready” soybean, was approved by the USDA in 1994. But most Americans hadn’t heard of Monsanto until it tried to sell the seeds to Europe. That’s when things turned sour.

If you set aside the debate about whether GMOs are bad or good, a curious fact emerges. For a rich and powerful company that seems to excel at nearly everything it does, Monsanto sucks in one important aspect: spin control.

In 1996, the U.K. was reeling from the Mad Cow disease epidemic, in which the British Government insisted the highly dangerous disease posed no risk to human health, while people were dying. Brits had gotten a fast education in the modern farm system and were primed to be suspicious of GMOs’ supposed safety. Although the seeds were approved by the European Union, consumers rebelled in England. Grocery store chains pushed back, tabloids printed stories about “Frankenfoods” and environmental groups such as Greenpeace swung into action with high-profile campaigns. Even Prince Charles, a longtime supporter of organic farming, wrote a newspaper editorial opining that genetic engineering “takes mankind into realms that belong to God, and to God alone.”

This reaction caught Monsanto execs off guard. As Dan Charles writes in his book, “Lords of the Harvest,” Philip Angell, the head of Monsanto’s corporate communications at the time, bemoaned that the Brits were the “sad sacks of Europe” for their suspicion of GMOs. But Monsanto believed it could overcome the problem.

“The predominant attitude at the company was,  ‘If they don’t like it, if they try to block it, we can sue them,’” says a former Monsanto employee who asked to remain anonymous when speaking to Modern Farmer.

Monsanto responded with what was supposed to be a cleverly counterintuitive $1.6 million ad campaign that read: “Food biotechnology is a matter of opinions. Monsanto believes you should hear all of them.” The ads included the phone numbers of opposing groups, such as Greenpeace. But the advertisements struck their audience as glib and insincere.

Too little too late, Monsanto tried a different tack, engaging in a dialogue with stakeholders all over Europe. Monsanto’s then-CEO Robert Shapiro even apologized for the company’s condescension and arrogance at a Greenpeace meeting via video uplink in 1999. But the damage had been done. Monsanto emerged from the bungled launch of GMOs in the UK looking like a bully, and the image stuck.

The Terminator and the Rosy-Cheeked Canadian Farmer

And so, what started as a problem in England became fodder for a global conversation, in which environmental groups had the upper hand.

In 1998, Monsanto announced plans to acquire a seed company called Delta Pine and Land Company. Delta Pine had developed a patented seed that could only propagate once. “The Terminator,” as it was ingeniously dubbed by environmentalists, could not be saved and replanted by farmers, ostensibly forcing the farmers to have to buy fresh seed every year.

Summoning up negative emotional responses to “The Terminator” was a powerful PR tactic for environmentalists in the British GMO debate, and it only continued to be as the controversy caught on in the U.S. In fact, the seed proved such a hot potato that Monsanto never commercially introduced it. And yet, “The Terminator” continues to live on in anti-GMO rhetoric. In the 2009 documentary “David Versus Monsanto,” about a Canadian farmer who was sued by the seed giant (more on this later), “The Terminator” seed is presented as if it is a viable Monsanto product.

In 2009, Greenpeace activists held a letter to Monsanto's China CEO and a bowl of rice to protest in the lobby of a building where Monsanto has its office in Beijing.1
It's not just the U.S. that protests Monsanto: here is a scene from a May 2013 event in Chile, where the company was planning on introducing a new herbicide-resistant crop called Xtend.2
Gladys Roldan, 21, wears an anti-GMO t-shirt during one of many worldwide March Against Monsanto that took place in fall of 2013 in Los Angeles.3
Scenes from a 2014 protest, outside the Monsanto annual shareholder meeting in Creve Coeur, Missouri.4
In 2009, Greenpeace activists held a letter to Monsanto's China CEO and a bowl of rice to protest in the lobby of a building where Monsanto has its office in Beijing.
It's not just the U.S. that protests Monsanto: here is a scene from a May 2013 event in Chile, where the company was planning on introducing a new herbicide-resistant crop called Xtend.
Gladys Roldan, 21, wears an anti-GMO t-shirt during one of many worldwide March Against Monsanto that took place in fall of 2013 in Los Angeles.
Scenes from a 2014 protest, outside the Monsanto annual shareholder meeting in Creve Coeur, Missouri.

Environmental groups also capitalized on the public’s fear of the unknown, especially as it related to big emotional triggers of personal health and safety. A typical example, was Friends of the Earth’s 1999 mailing campaign, which read: “How Safe is the Food You Eat?…The scary answer is no one really knows.” This set the pattern for our current debate about GMOs: even as scientists argue in the New York Times and elsewhere that the technology has not been shown to be bad to humans, it is hard to escape the notion that these kinds of crops are too new to be properly vetted. Monster analogies graft nicely onto such gray zones.

By not understanding, at least at first, the emotional dimensions of the debate, Monsanto has been unable to shake its image. By its own admission Monsanto views its patented GM seeds similarly to the way the software industry views its proprietary technology. Like somebody buying a copy of Photoshop, Monsanto binds its customers to a terms-of-service agreement when they buy their “technology.” (It includes stipulations such as the inability to save and replant the seed.) In the past, if the company has learned those terms have been violated, they have sued, or threatened to sue, farmers. Monsanto even has a hotline that people can call to alert them to patent infringements.

Although this makes sense from a business perspective, it’s problematic from a public relations perspective. The “technology” they’re selling is seeds, which have rich cultural and even spiritual associations that Photoshop does not. Seeds have historically been a part of the natural world that belongs to everybody and nobody, like dirt or the ocean. The customers at liability risk aren’t corporate IT departments, but rather, farmers. (“The Daily Show” pilloried this in a bit last year entitled: “Aasif Mandvi learns that greedy farmers have threatened the livelihood of Monsanto’s heroic patent attorneys.”)

The pitfalls of Monsanto’s approach are most glaringly evident in the case of Percy Schmeiser, a rosy-cheeked Canadian farmer who was successfully sued by Monsanto in 1998 after he refused to pay the licensing fee for growing Round-up Ready Canola. Schmeiser claimed that the GM canola seed had blown onto his farm by mistake, and he wasn’t infringing on Monsanto’s patent agreement because he did not intend to use Round-Up on the Canola. Some of the crucial facts of the case remain hotly disputed: how much of Schmeiser’s farm was planted with the GM canola, whether he knew what exactly he was growing and whether his claim that he wasn’t going to use Round-Up was truthful.

But these murky areas get lost in the broad brushstrokes that color public opinion. Schmeiser was made into the poster child for the innocent farmer sued by big, bad Monsanto. For the past several years, he’s been a regular on the ant-GMO lecture circuit and as the subject of the documentary, “David Versus Monsanto” helped paint the company in an unflattering light.

Monsanto does not appear chastened by this Pyrrhic victory. A page on company’s web site describes the Schmeiser case in defiant terms:

“The truth is Percy Schmeiser is not a hero. He’s simply a patent infringer who knows how to tell a good story.”

Monsanto is clearly a company that undervalues the power of storytelling.

The World Needs Villains

The debate about GMOs’ safety, both in terms of potential dangers to the environment and to human health, is complex. Proponents say there have been no studies proving that GM is harmful. Opponents say there have not been enough studies to convincingly prove it’s safe.

“The whole debate has gotten so very, very polarized,” says Glenn Stone, an anthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis, who has written extensively about GM. The less analytical and more emotional the conversation becomes, says Stone, the more the anti-GMO movement needs “bad guys” to “appeal to those parts of the brain that get excited and run on fury and outrage.” Monsanto has clearly become that bad guy in what he calls the “rhetorical death struggle” that is the GMO debate.

Writing on Grist.org, journalist Nathanael Johnson concludes an impressively exhaustive series on GMOs, by suggesting that the fight is really more existential. He writes:

“Beneath all this is a fundamental disagreement about technology. At one end you have the… position, which suggests our innovations are hurting more then helping us. At the other end are the technological utopians who see restraints on innovation as intolerably prolonging the suffering that would end in a more perfect future.”

The discussion is important, writes Johnson, but very abstract. We need to have something concrete to attach it to, so we attach it to the debate about GMOs. And GMOs being abstract, still, we attach the debate to Monsanto.

Zeynep Arsel, an associate professor of marketing at Concordia University in Montreal, draws parallels to consumer backlash against Starbucks in the early 2000s.

“They also become this – I don’t want to say scapegoat, but icons [representing] broader social problems.” In Starbucks’ case, the company was blamed for mistreatment of farmers, bad environmental practices and neighborhood gentrification, with varying degrees of fairness. Similarly, says Arsel, Monsanto becomes “symbolically linked to a loss of small farming practices, political alignments and other abstract concerns.”

Perhaps, also, it’s not surprising that Monsanto’s shift into agriculture has made it a target for consumer rage. Food companies are particularly vulnerable to public relations headaches. Historically, companies like Nestle, Coke, and McDonalds have been frequent targets of consumer protests, boycotts and media floggings. (Remember “Super Size Me”?) Although Monsanto doesn’t sell breakfast cereal or hamburgers, it does sell the raw materials, in a sense. And as compared to, say, worrying about the health of the ocean when BP spills oil into it, people worry more about their own health and safety. The idea that our food might be adulterated or cause harm is an easy thing to get worked up about.

In a New York Times poll conducted last July, almost a quarter of respondents said that they believed that GMO foods were unsafe to eat or were toxic. And nearly 93 percent supported a GM labeling law. (Monsanto’s position has been that there is a lack of scientific evidence backing up those claims, and that mandatory labels would inaccurately put fear in the heart of consumers. It has spent millions to defeat various state-level bills and ballot proposals.)

Monsanto has made many attempts, since the initial launch of its GM seeds, to paint itself in a better light through advertising. In a few campaigns, they’ve used language about “sustainability,” and in others, they’ve taken the humanizing approach by showing pictures of smiling farmers or Monsanto employees. They’re also attempting to spread the message of new, non-GMO produce initiatives — arecent Wired article was titled “Monsanto Is Going Organic in the Quest for the Perfect Veggie.”

None of these seem to have made any difference, however, at least in the popular debate. Eventually, probably, Monsanto will relinquish its villainous place in pop culture to another corporation. It’s certainly trying: as Politico reported this past fall, they have shaken up their internal public relations office and upped contracts with outside image consultants. (The story also noted that Monsanto is still raking in money: it finished 2013 with a 25 percent increase in sales, netting the company $2.5 billion in profit.) As the Climate Corporation’s Friedberg noted in his all-staff email, tech companies have begun to assume the mantle of the evil corporations — many see Google’s motto (“Don’t be evil”) as more ironic by the day.

For the time being, the relentless march of Monsanto Facebook memes (“Not sure if trying to feed the world or poison it”) and anti-GMO sentiment only seems to be pushing Monsanto farther into the evil camp: States have been legislating around GMO labeling and companies like Chipotle are promising to drop GMO products. If Monsanto has any hope of shifting public opinion towards a brighter future, it’s going to have to find a way to deal with its image today. No one is lining up to live in the house Monsanto built.

As a website devoted to the news, opinions, and contributions of black people in America and around the world, TheGrio.com is interested in understanding what the past teaches us about our current political moment and how it helps us prepare for the future. In this spirit, TheGrio assembled a group of 25 contemporary academics, artists and activists to assess the most impactful African-American leaders in U.S. history. Each is uniquely suited through scholarship, experience, and commitment to black communities to assess the legacy of African-American leadership.

Each member of the expert panel was asked to complete a survey, which asked them to assess 170 black leaders. These leaders are individuals who worked in times as distant as American slavery and moments as recent as our own. The experts made independent rankings of each leader on the list. The expert jury also nominated leaders not included in the original list. An alphabetical list of all 170 leaders and all additional names is included at the end of this report.


Categories of Leadership

African-American leadership has taken many forms over the decades. Our jury of experts considered contributions from political leaders in four broad areas.

1. Elected and Appointed Political Leaders
2. Lawyers, Legal Advocates and Business Executives
3. Civil Rights, Political Organizations and Religious Leadership
4. Politically Relevant Intellectuals, Writers, and Artists

They have chosen the top five most impactful persons in each area. From these responses we have also compiled a list of the top 25 African-Americans in our nation’s political history.

Top Ten

Overall, our experts had widely divergent opinions about this extensive list of leaders, but they shared extraordinary agreement about the few individuals who have had the most impact in American history. According to our experts? these are the top 10 African-American political leaders in U.S. history in the order they were ranked:

1. Martin Luther King, Jr. 
2. Barack Obama
3. W.E.B. Du Bois
4. Thurgood Marshall
5. Malcolm X
6. Frederick Douglass
7. Harriet Tubman
8. Rosa Parks
9. Ida B. Wells-Barnett
10. Ella Baker

At first glance this list may not seem surprising. These names are widely regarded as some of the greatest African-Americans to have ever lived. There are some findings here worth noting.

It is fascinating to note that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is clearly the consensus choice of this group. King never held elected office. He was harshly criticized in his own lifetime both by the American public and by some members of his own community. Although he was still a very young man at the time of his assassination, his contributions shine forth as a signal, extraordinary legacy of leadership and achievement.

President Barack Obama is the only living leader included among the Top 10. He is ranked a very close second to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This result is nothing short of extraordinary given that President Obama is a relatively young leader who only became known to a national American audience in the past four years. Many of the experts on this panel have written critically of various aspects of his presidency. All of the experts on this list are deeply knowledgeable of the long trajectory of black struggle in America and the many personalities who have been part of it. His presence among these giants of black political history is indicative of the symbolic and substantive importance of his presidency despite his often-embattled administration.

There are four women among the Top 10. While Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks are women who are widely known and whose accomplishments are taught in American grade schools, both Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Ella Baker are less well-known figures for many black Americans. That these experts judged these women as significant contributors to black political efforts is an indication that they should be included in our broader curriculum of black history.


The span of black political leaders included in this Top 10 list includes those who struggled against slavery (Tubman and Douglass); those who were active during the nadir of race relations at the turn of the 20th century (Wells-Barnett and Du Bois); those who led the struggle for Civil Rights (King, Marshall, Baker and Parks); those who insisted on self-determination (X); and a contemporary elected leader (Obama). Such a broad sweep indicates that our experts believed there were many points in American history when leadership was necessary and when black Americans stepped up to provide that leadership. Top 25 Black Leaders

The list of the Top 25 leaders adds interesting diversity to the list of Top 10.

1. Martin Luther King, Jr.
2. Barack Obama 
3. W.E.B. Du Bois 
4. Thurgood Marshall 
5. Malcolm X
6. Frederick Douglass 
7. Harriet Tubman 
8. Rosa Parks
9. Ida B. Wells-Barnett 
10. Ella Baker
11. Booker T. Washington
12. Adam Clayton Powell 
13. James Baldwin 
14. Dred Scott 
15. Paul Robeson
16. A. Phillip Randolph 
17. Fannie Lou Hamer 
18. Marcus Garvey 
19. Jesse Jackson, Sr. 
20. John Johnson 
21. Mary McLeod Bethune 
22. Carter G. Woodson 
23. Nat Turner 
24. Harry Belafonte 
25. Charles Hamilton Houston
26. Langston Hughes

(There is a three-way tie for Belafonte, Houston and Hughes)

This list includes more living leaders: Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr. and Harry Belafonte.

The list also includes educators Mary McLeod Bethune and Carter G. Woodson, underscoring the extent to which education has been an important site of political contributions for black Americans. The list also includes artists Robeson, Belafonte, and Hughes, which underscores the importance of artistic and literary expressions within black politics. The list includes two additional women, Hamer and Bethune, reminding us that women have made critical leadership contributions to African-American politics. This list also includes two more black Americans who lived as slaves: Scott and Turner. Their inclusion signals the continuing importance America’s slave legacy.

Top Elected and Appointed Black Political Leaders

We asked our expert panel to choose the top leaders in each of four different categories of leadership. In the area of Elected and Appointed Political Leaders these individuals generated the most agreement.

Barack Obama
Shirley Chisholm
Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. 
Harold Washington
Colin Powell
Barbara Jordan
John Lewis

President Obama received nearly unanimous support as worthy of inclusion among the top leaders. No other candidate in this area generated as much agreement.

Shirley Chisholm and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. are somewhat surprising inclusions. Undoubtedly the heavy representation of New York based jury experts is likely responsible, in part, for their inclusion. Something else is likely at work here too. In the context of an Obama presidency, Chisholm’s unlikely and inspiring candidacy for the American presidency has renewed resonance, as does the ground breaking first that is the Congressional career of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.

Colin Powell is one of the few conservatives to make the lists of top leadership. Our experts judge his historic leadership positions in the American military and national government as worthy of recognition.

Harold Washington, Barbara Jordan, and John Lewis are all leaders with robust reputations for independence and courageous, outspoken advocacy on behalf of black community interests. They are also recognized as coalition builders who earned broad cross-racial support and respect as a result of their accomplishments. By choosing these leaders our expert panel is signaling an assessment of their capacity to be both fiercely independent and widely respected as the kind of skills necessary to make an impact on black political life.

The chart below shows the top leaders in appointed and elected office. There are two ties in this category. Therefore, seven names are listed.

Top Black Political Leaders in Law, Legal Advocacy and Business

We asked our expert panel to choose the top leaders in each of four different categories of leadership. In the area of Law, Legal Advocacy, and Business, these individuals generated the most agreement as worthy of consideration as most impactful.

Thurgood Marshall
Charles Hamilton Houston
Rosa Parks
Dred Scott
Madame CJ Walker
John Johnson
Homer Plessy

Our experts ranked Thurgood Marshall, Charles Hamilton Houston, and Rosa Parks as the most impactful leaders in issues of law and legal advocacy. Each was critically important in the struggle for integration in America. This is indicative of the continuing assessment that despite the challenges of the past 50 years, the battle to integrate America’s schools, workplaces, public spaces and government remains the defining effort of black politics.

Our experts also include famously unsuccessful litigants Dred Scott and Homer Plessy as among the most impactful leaders. Our experts recognize that failures can be as important successes in setting the tone and direction of black politics.

Our experts chose Madame CJ Walker and John Johnson as the most impactful business executives. Both of these business leaders made extraordinary political contributions. Walker remains one of the most generous individual contributors in the history of the NAACP. In many ways the legal work of the Marshall, Hamilton and others on this list was made possible by Walker’s contributions. Johnson’s black publishing empire had a similarly powerful impact in the modern political era when he magazines offered a primary platform for black political leaders to engage with African-Americans in a national forum.

It is notable that current Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is not included in the list of most impactful leaders – despite being the only African-American other than Marshall (who received 92% of votes from experts) to serve on the Supreme Court, and despite being a decisive conservative vote on many issues of social and political significance affecting black Americans.

Top Black Leaders in Civil Rights, Political Organizations and Religion

We asked our expert panel to choose the top leaders in each of four different categories of leadership. In the area of Civil Rights, Political Organizations and Religious Leadership, these individuals generated the most agreement as worthy of consideration as most impactful:

Martin Luther King, Jr. 
Malcolm X
Frederick Douglass
Harriet Tubman
Ida B. Wells-Barnett
Ella Baker
A. Phillip Randolph

The leaders on this list are most represented among the top 10 most impactful leaders overall. Six of the seven top leaders in this category were also chosen in the Top 10. Our experts believe that this is the area from which our most important leaders have emerged.

Both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X are ranked at the top of this list. Despite the many differences in their approach, style, and philosophy, our experts judge them to have made tremendous contributions. It seems that our experts believe robust disagreement among leaders is a point of strength for black communities.

No living civil rights leader was included among the top choices. This might be read as an indication that our experts believe the era of impactful civil rights leadership has passed.

The chart below shows the question top leaders in order. Again, seven are listed just for consistency with the first list and because this list also produced a tie.

Top Black Leaders: Politically Relevant Intellectuals, Writers, and Artists

We asked our expert panel to choose the top leaders in each of four different categories of leadership. In the area of Politically Relevant Intellectuals, Writers, and Artists these individuals generated the most agreement as worthy of consideration as most impactful:

W.E.B. Du Bois
Booker T. Washington
Oprah Winfrey
James Baldwin
Paul Robeson
Cornel West
Toni Morrison

As in the case of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X in the category above, our experts have chosen both W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington as the top leaders. Many observers of African-American history highlight the turn-of-the-20th century tensions between Du Bois and Washington as indicative of the diversity and contestation within black political thought. The experts have decided that both men and their ideas deserve recognition.

Three living African-Americans are included in this list: Oprah Winfrey, Cornel West and Toni Morrison. This is the largest number of living persons included in any top list.

It is also important to note that more additional names were added by our experts in this category than were added in any other. The wide variety of cultural, literary, and artistic contributions by African-Americans thinkers and artists led to a robust list of potential leaders. These individuals are the ones who our jury saw as making the greatest political (not artistic) impact in black America.

The chart below shows the top leaders. For consistency this list includes seven leaders. However, the distance between the scores achieved by the Top 5 and the rest is much clearer in this case.

Role of Black Leaders

We also asked our experts to assess the most important roles fulfilled by black political leaders in three different historical eras: (1) the decades before the 20th century, (2) the decades of the 20th century, (3) in our present moment

Our experts responded by rating the top three roles fulfilled in each epoch and their responses offer some important insights. In the years before the 20th century our experts believed that black leaders were primarily responsible for teaching and mobilizing black communities for action. This mobilization role was also considered primary during the 20th century, and was joined by role of affecting local and national politics as a critical responsibility.

In one of the most interesting findings in our survey, the experts suggest a new and critical role for black leaders in our contemporary moment. Mobilizing black people for action and affecting policy remain important, but our experts agree that building bridges to other racial communities is more important in contemporary America than it was in the past. Perhaps the perceived importance of this bridging role is part of the reason that President Obama is the sole living leader to make the Top 10

Rapper Phife Dawg, a member of rap pioneers A Tribe Called Quest, has died at the age of 45.

The musician had been struggling with ill health and diabetes for several years, and received a kidney transplant from his wife in 2008.

Born Malik Isaac Taylor in 1970, he co-founded the philosophically-focused rap group in 1985 with his classmates Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad.

Their biggest hit came in 1991, with the single Can I Kick It?

The band recently reformed to perform the song on Jimmy Fallon's US chat show, as they marked the 25th anniversary of their debut album People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm.

News of Phife Dawg's death emerged on Twitter, where producer and broadcaster DJ Chuck Chillout posted an RIP message in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Rolling Stone magazine later confirmed his death, although an official statement has yet to be released.

A Tribe Called QuestImage copyrightGetty Images
Image captionPhife (left) reunited with A Tribe Called Quest several times after their initial dissolution in 1998

Rapper Chuck D was among those paying tribute to the star, calling him "a true fire social narrator".

BBC 6 Music DJ Gilles Peterson said Phife and Q-Tip "complimented [sic] each other like Lennon and McCartney", adding "their albums changed my life".

EL-P from rap group Run The Jewels simply posted: "Rest In Peace Phife" alongside a video of fans chanting along to the rapper's verse in Buggin' Out.

Five Foot Assassin

A native New Yorker, Phife appeared on all five of A Tribe Called Quest's albums, acting as a punchy foil to the more mellifluous Q-Tip on tracks like Check The Rhime and Scenario.

He nicknamed himself the Funky Diabetic and the Five Foot Assassin - a reference to his diminutive stature - and his self-deprecating swagger became one of the band's trademarks.

Along with acts like De La Soul and Queen Latifah, the band were part of an overall movement that challenged the macho posturing of rap in the '80s and '90s. Their lyrics addressed issues like date rape and the use of the N-word in the track Sucker Niga, and avoided the hip-hop cliches of gunplay and expletives.

Musically, they fused jazz with hip-hop, often rapping over a drum loop and an upright bass - while 1991's complex, atmospheric The Low End Theory has often been ranked among the best hip-hop albums of all time.

A Tribe Called QuestImage copyrightGetty Images
Image captionThe band's hits included Bonita Applebum, Award Tour, Jazz (We've Got) and Scenario

Can I Kick It? was one of the band's more atypical songs - a gleeful barrage of nonsensical wordplay, based around a sample from Lou Reed's Walk On The Wild Side.

Despite the song's enduring appeal, Phife was not a fan. "It's hard for me to get into Can I Kick It? for the simple fact that I hated my voice back then," he told Rolling Stone. "It was high-pitched.... and I couldn't stand it."

Disagreements between Q-Tip and Phife eventually derailed the group and in 1998 they announced their fifth album, The Love Movement, would be their last.

Following the group's dissolution, Phife continued to battle diabetes, reuniting with the group for occasional live shows - partly to help cover the medical costs of his type 2 diabetes (often mis-reported as type 1).

He suffered renal failure in 2008 and received a transplant from his wife - but was back on the waiting list for a kidney four years later.

"It's a strain on me as far as going where I want to go, doing what I want to do," he said. "When I was on dialysis the first time, my stepson was playing basketball [and] I couldn't practice with him. I wanted to go out and run with him and things of that nature, but I didn't feel good."

"It's really a sickness," he added in Beats, Rhymes & Life, Michael Rapaport's candid 2011 documentary on the group. "Like straight-up drugs. I'm just addicted to sugar."

At the time of his death, Phife was working on a solo record, Muttymorphosis, which he described as "basically my life story".

A clip from the first single, Nutshell, was released last September, but the full track has yet to surface.

Reflecting on his career last year, the rapper said: "It's odd in a good way. I never expected it to be this big. I just thought we were going to be celebs in the hood. Like, honestly, within 25 years, when you go to places like Australia and Japan and Amsterdam and London and Germany and these people know [the songs] word-for-word, it's crazy."

Champion Cavs drink it all in after lifting Cleveland's title drought


OAKLAND, Calif. -- As his last on-court television interview of the night wrapped up, LeBron James walked off the finally silent Oracle Arena floor where he'd put up a triple-double in the clinching Game 7.

He made a long, winding trek through barren concrete tunnels until he reached the Oakland Raiders' locker room in the neighboring O.co Coliseum, which had been transformed into a makeshift studio for the Cleveland Cavaliers to snap photos holding their newly captured Larry O'Brien Trophy.

There were three portraits James wanted to take, the same as after his other two championships: one with his wife, Savannah, and children (this was his infant daughter Zhuri's first); one with his lifelong friends Maverick Carter, Rich Paul and Randy Mims; and one with his mother, Gloria.

With each step, champagne squishing in his sneakers from the postgame celebration that was but a teaser for the rager that awaits the Cavs back in Cleveland, the best basketball player in the world verbally replayed the sequences of the most important basketball game of his life.

He started by focusing on a miss, a 5-footer in the lane with 1:25 to go and the game tied at 89, cursing himself for leaving it short after re-enacting the spin move that got him free to attempt it. Paul, walking alongside, steered James' mind back to the positive, bringing up the block -- to be forever known to Cavs fans as The Chasedown -- he had on Andre Iguodala the possession before.

"Iguodala is a bad m-----f-----," James snapped. "I had to go chase it down."

He raised both arms, just as he did when he pinned Iguodala's would-be layup against the glass with his right arm, and his 11-year-old son LeBron Jr. did the same (making it no wonder why he already has standing scholarship offers from both Duke and Kentucky, according to a source).

When the corridor eventually opened up to the Raiders' space, James sipped on a bottle of Moet and chomped on a cigar when Richard Jefferson approached. "Tell me, was that the most stressful game ever?" Jefferson said, finally a champion after 15 years in the league.

They both brought up Game 6 of the 2013 Finals, when Ray Allen hit his legendary shot. James shrugged. "It was close," he said.

Then he proceeded to replay the final sequences of that game, played three years ago this week, out loud the same way he had just dissected Game 7 against the Golden State Warriors, played an hour ago.

"Listen, we're down five, they got the ropes out with 20 seconds to go ..."

His stint in Miami made him a two-time champion, but it also made him feel unappreciated on his way out the door. Ever since James left the Heat, the way his exit was received there nagged at him.

"There were some people that I trusted and built relationships with in those four years [who] told me I was making the biggest mistake of my career."

LeBron James, on his secret motivation after leaving Miami

During last year's Finals, after tying up the series at 1 with an undermanned Cavs team, James hinted at it, saying, "I have some other motivation that I won't talk about right now. ... I hope we win so I can tell y'all."

They didn't win, and the Warriors took Games 4 through 6 and celebrated on the Cavs' floor. James didn't tell.

He held on to the secret motivation for 12 more months, declining to elaborate even when asked privately, allowing the intrigue to grow. Sunday, finally, it was time to tell the whole story.

"When I decided to leave Miami -- I'm not going to name any names, I can't do that -- but there were some people that I trusted and built relationships with in those four years [who] told me I was making the biggest mistake of my career," James told ESPN.com just outside the Raiders' locker room.

"And that s--- hurt me. And I know it was an emotional time that they told me that because I was leaving. They just told me it was the biggest mistake I was making in my career. And that right there was my motivation."

One could guess that one naysayer was Heat president Pat Riley, who in not-so-subtle fashion took a dig a James a year ago when he said his franchise was free of "smiling faces with hidden agendas."

James never saw his decision to return home as a mistake; he actually saw it as a legacy play, a chance to do something greater than what he could do in Miami by taking on what seemed like an impenetrable Cleveland drought.

"I knew what I was doing," James said. "I knew what I was doing, and I mean, tonight is a product of it."

What he was doing -- erasing a 52-year championship drought in Cleveland; averaging 36.3 points, 11.7 rebounds, 9.7 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks in the last three games of the Finals to help the Cavs become the first team ever to rally from a 3-1 series deficit and win the title -- was unprecedented. And his smile -- in the portraits he posed for -- genuine.

His vision complete. His decision validated. Even if the journey was harder than he expected.

"I didn't know it was going to happen this way, though," he said. "Oh my God! Down 3-1, versus a team that's 73-9, that lost one game in the playoffs at home ..." He was out of words.

Paul, his agent, approached James to show him a quote on his cellphone, freshly tweeted from Kyrie Irving's postgame news conference. "I watched Beethoven tonight," Paul said, reading Irving's words about James.

Irving, of course, was just as responsible for making the night a classic. He'd made the shot of his life just an hour before, a laser 3-pointer with 53 seconds left that broke an 89-89 stalemate and proved to be the winning points. It came over back-to-back MVP Stephen Curry's outstretched arms just ahead of the shot-clock buzzer, the type of cold-blooded dagger that lives forever in highlight reels.

"All I was thinking in the back of my mind was Mamba mentality," Irving said in a nod to an idol, Kobe Bryant. "Just Mamba mentality. That's all I was thinking."

For Irving, who watched the end of the Finals last year from bed as he recovered from knee surgery, it was a satisfying moment.

"Everyone had an answer for what the Cleveland Cavaliers needed to do," Irving said. "Now I just remember when we were down 3-1, I think [ESPN Basketball Power Index] was a 92 percent chance for Golden State to win it and us for 8 percent. Then it goes 3-2, then it goes 3-3, and now the odds change completely.

"I'm glad it happened this way, but I'm really thankful that we got to play against a great team like the Golden State Warriors that I can tell my daughter about."

Back in the Cavs' locker room was a case, a container that had been carrying a secret for the past eight weeks. It was a 4-foot-long golden puzzle that ultimately formed an image of the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

This was veteran James Jones' idea; he was looking for a symbol for the Cavs' playoff run, a way to form a collective spirit. In shades of the movie "Major League," the puzzle had 16 pieces, one for every victory it was going to take for the Cavs to win the title.

"We needed something to bring us together," Jones said. "Every guy was a piece. We assembled this team. So we had to assemble the puzzle." Jones imported this idea from Miami, where he and James were part of a ritual in 2012 when coach Erik Spoelstra had a secret black trophy, which every player on the roster signed at the start of the playoffs and on which each victory was marked with golden notches.

"Together, that's how you win a championship. Individually, we are all just a piece. Everyone had to have their role; everyone has to have their piece."

James Jones

For Cleveland's special secret trophy, there was another ritual. After each win in the playoffs, a different player would come forward to add his piece to the puzzle. During the Finals when there were constant cameras in the locker room, the players would kick the media out to keep it secret. Sometimes the honor went to the hero of the win. Sometimes it went to a player who needed a pick-me-up. Kevin Love slid his piece into place after he had to miss Game 3 with a concussion.

With the real trophy in the room and champagne flying, it came time for the 16th piece. All 15 players had placed their piece, leaving a hole in the middle. The last piece was in the shape of the state of Ohio. As cheers raged, coach Tyronn Lue placed the final piece into place.

The puzzle, the trophy, the journey was finished.

"Together, that's how you win a championship," Jones said. "Individually, we are all just a piece. Everyone had to have their role; everyone has to have their piece."

Carter, who manages James' various non-basketball businesses, marveled at a photo as he studied it on a cellphone. As bar taps were surely simultaneously being pulled back in Cleveland, there were tears falling down James' face in the moments after he'd finished leading the greatest comeback in Finals history.

In the middle of the chaos, Carter found James, and the pair hugged under the basket with "0.0" shining in red fluorescent lights on the game clock above them.

"Wow," said Carter, who was a high school teammate with James at St. Vincent-St. Mary in Akron. "That's a great photo. Wow. That moment was one friend feeling fantastic, exhilarated, exhausted and another friend just telling the other friend, 'Nobody in the world deserves it more than you.'"

Carter has been there for the entire ride with James and had the clothes on to prove it: a black Nike "Witness" T-shirt and a pair of LeBron's ninth Nike signature shoe.

"I wore this T-shirt to Game 7 in '13," Carter said, referring to James' leading the Heat over the San Antonio Spurs. "And the sneakers are, too; don't forget the sneakers. These are the 9s. I wore 10s last game. I wore championship sneakers [tonight]."

James added a pair of championship sneakers to the collection Sunday. It was a big night for Nike, its burgeoning battle with upstart Under Armour was personified by James against Curry. When James saw Lynn Merritt, a Nike vice president who oversees James and acts as a mentor to him, he reminded him of how he told him at the start of Cleveland's postseason run that the Cavs would need three great games out of him -- games when James was the "hero" -- and the championship would belong to them.

"I gave them back-to-back-to-back," James said with satisfaction.

Carter, back on the court, started to add up his friend's accomplishments.

"What's LeBron now? 3-4 in the Finals? Not bad," Carter said. "He's pretty dope."

What's next for James, Carter was asked, now that the monkey is off his back and the city of Cleveland is a winner again?

"It's LeBron James," Carter said. "What else is left? Do it again."

Mark "Cobra" Cashman, the Cavs' director of team operations, is one of just a couple of members of the franchise to share the locker room with James through both his stints in Cleveland. Having spent the past 15 years responsible for the team's equipment -- from bags to balls to uniforms -- his duties have expanded to become the team's unofficial director of fun, as he takes it upon himself to plan adventures to mix things up throughout the long season.

Sometimes it's as simple as setting up football targets outside the practice facility for the players to toss the pigskin through. Sometimes it's as silly as surprising someone by arranging to have a mascot visit their hotel room on the road. (Rowdy, the Dallas Cowboys' mascot, dropped in on James this season, while Mr. Met surprised assistant coach Jim Boylan.)

After Game 7, Cashman planned his coup de grace.

"There's another surprise that they don't know about," he said in the postgame locker room as the players drenched their jerseys in champagne and beer that Cashman will happily wash out in the days to come.

Ever since they won Game 6, the Cavs planned on leaving California on Sunday night, hoping to return Monday to a happy fan base in Cleveland. In the event of a win, the plane ride back would be a blast in itself. But Cashman wanted to up the ante.

"It's kind of the way the playoffs go," he said. "You always are planning for the next game, and you don't know if it's going to get there. So, it's hard. You kind of trick yourself into thinking it's going to happen, it's reality, versus there's still chance. So, that's hard. But there's a big surprise waiting for them tonight."

After being assured his secret wouldn't be revealed before the players found out about it, Cashman divulged the plan.

"We'll stop in Vegas for a little while," he said with a sly smile, explaining how he had buses waiting for the team at McCarran Airport that very minute, ready to whisk it away to the Strip upon its arrival. "We were always going to fly back [Sunday night] no matter what. A few of us kind of had a powwow after Game 6 and were like, 'What are we going to do?' So, the decision was, that's what we're going to do."

Vegas baby, Vegas.

"They'll enjoy it," Cashman said. "It will be a nice surprise for them."

Outside the training room, team athletic trainer Mike Mancias gripped a cigar as he received hugs and congratulations. Mancias started working for the Cavs in 2004, when one of his duties was to translate instructions from coaches to then-rookie Anderson Varejao, as they both spoke Spanish.

It was the second cigar Mancias would smoke over the weekend.


Mancias is one of the people James trusts the most. He's been his personal trainer for years. He followed him to the Heat and then came back to Cleveland with him. It was at Mancias' summer wedding in 2014 in Miami where Riley had hoped to meet with James and seal his re-signing. There was a signing that night; James acted as the witness for their marriage license.

This past Thursday night, the Cavs won Game 6 in Cleveland. James needed extra treatment, as he'd been kneed in the thigh. Mancias stayed late at the arena to do it, knowing the vital importance of the recovery time before Game 7.

A few hours later, Mancias was at a hospital to be with his wife, Heather, who was in labor with their first child. It lasted a brutal 26 hours, into Saturday. James and the Cavs flew in to San Francisco without him.

Finally, little Malcolm Ray Mancias came into the world. Mother and baby were fine. After they shared their moment with their son, Heather turned and said: "Go, go to Game 7."

Mancias took a charter with Cavs employees Sunday morning. He came to the arena right from the airport. Fifteen minutes later James arrived, and Mancias was there to stretch and tape him.

He'll never forget his first Father's Day.

J.R. Smith will never forget this Father's Day, either. He started weeping on the podium after the victory when talking about his family. When he got to talking about his father, he almost couldn't continue as he described the support he's gotten during difficult times in his career.

"I mean, my dad is easily one of my biggest inspirations to play this game," said Smith, who scored eight straight points in the third quarter to begin the Cavs' second-half turnaround.

"To hear people talk bad about me, it hurts me because I know it hurts him, and that's not who I am. And I know he raised [me] better, and I know I want to do better. Just everything I do is for my parents and my family.

"The cars are nice, the houses are nice, but none of this matters without them. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be here. I don't know where I would be, honestly. If it wasn't for them, if it wasn't for the structure and the backbone that I have, I wouldn't be able to mess up and keep coming back and being able to sit in front of you as a world champion."

Smith cheered up quickly. He struck a pose for pictures with a wrestling-style championship belt over one shoulder, a bottle of beer in one hand and a lit cigar in the other. Security guards tried to get him to put out the cigar, but Smith had no intention of doing so.

Within minutes, other Cavs had joined him. The visitors locker room filled with smoke. Timofey Mozgov towered above all, standing 7-foot-1 and blowing smoke straight toward the ceiling. When the Warriors played in Cleveland in January, Stephen Curry had joked that he hoped it still smelled a little like champagne from their title celebration there last year. The Cavs left the locker room at Oracle smelling of victory cigars.

Cavs owners Dan Gilbert, Nate Forbes and Jeff Cohen walked through the locker room with magnum-sized champagne bottles with their names engraved on them and a Cavs logo bedazzled with tiny gemstones. Gilbert is the majority owner, but these three have been friends for decades and act as a support system for one another. They're all also very superstitious.

When the Cavs came back for Game 5, there was a mix-up with the courtside seats, and there were only two. So Forbes ended up sitting behind the Cavs' bench for the first half and Cohen for the second half. The Cavs pulled out the victory, starting what would become the greatest comeback in Finals history.

They had all the necessary seats Sunday night, but Forbes was back in the same seat in the first half, and Cohen moved there for the second half and mostly watched on the scoreboard because he ended up behind Channing Frye.

Another minority owner, singer Usher, joined the Cavs for their celebration after the game.

Gilbert and his ownership group have spent about $850 million in salaries and luxury taxes over the 10 years since he bought the team. This season the team spent more than $160 million, the second-highest all time.

"For him to come back here and go through what he did, it's just pretty remarkable, and we're very proud of him, and we love our leader."

Kevin Love, on LeBron James delivering a title to Cleveland

As he prepared to leave the arena, James kissed his wife goodbye. She had playfully scolded him earlier when he took his daughter to his postgame news conference while he was drenched in champagne. First a shower then into the night, a three-time champion already on the lookout for a new challenge.

"I want to continue to be great. I want to continue to lead the 14 guys that I got on my team. I want to continue to lead this franchise. I got to continue to be great," James said. "That's it. I owe that to myself. I'm true to myself. I'm my biggest critic. All the other conversation that goes on out there, yeah, that's fine and dandy, but I'm my biggest critic. I owe it to myself to continue to be great."

His teammates, euphoric in the moment, had no thoughts of the future. They were finally content to be in the present and in James' presence.

"He protects every single one of us, and we are just very, very thrilled for our team," said Kevin Love, wearing a Stone Cold Steve Austin shirt but sounding warm and fuzzy.

"But for him to come back here and go through what he did, it's just pretty remarkable, and we're very proud of him, and we love our leader."

VERONA, N.Y. — Demetrius Andrade made it clear coming into Saturday’s title eliminator fight that it was a “make or break” moment for him.

The 27-year-old Providence, R.I., southpaw and former Olympian had fought less than 10 rounds in the last two-plus years due to legal problems. By all rights, he should have been rusty.

But Andrade came out on a mission against a tall, lanky and dangerous Willie Nelson, looking to show the crowd at the events Center at Turning Stone Hotel and Casino that physically and mentally, the layoff not only didn’t hurt him but actually helped him.

Andrade put on a boxing clinic, landing combinations throughout the fight as he dropped Nelson four times, including twice in the 12th round before referee Richard Pakozdi stopped it at 1:38 of the final round, keeping Andrade undefeated at 23-0 (16 KOs).

All three judges had scored it a shutout at the time of the stoppage.

“I’m still young, tall, black and handsome,” Andrade said. “I’m young enough and my reaction time is still going.  Willie Nelson is a true champion.  He pushed me to the limit where I had to figure out what punches to throw.  But I put the pieces of the puzzle together and got the knockout, baby.”

Andrade’s promoter, Artie Pelullo, said, “I thought he looked terrific. We all knew he had talent, but now he fought a tough guy in title rounds and went right through him.”

Andrade is the mandatory for WBC 154-pound champion Jermell Charlo, but they will not fight next, as Charlo must fight another mandatory, Charles Hatley.

Pelullo said after the fight he was going to talk to Showtime about Andrade taking on WBO 154-pound champion Erislandy Lara next, and then the winner would fight Charlo to unify the titles.

As for Nelson, who fell to 25-3-1 (15 KOs), he’s not sure where he’s headed, but retirement is not one of the options.

“He was tough.  I was forcing my shots too much. I felt like I was I was getting back into the fight, but he was crafty and mobile. I am ready for whatever is next and, despite what happened tonight, I am here to stay,” Nelson said. “My career won’t end like this.”

(Photo of Andrade, center, and Nelson, on the canvas, by Amanda Wescott, Showtime)


Kimbo Slice will be remembered for his improbable rise to popularity


The exact time and place may differ from person to person, but the portal in which Kimbo Slice first became part of our collective consciousness was likely the same: YouTube, roughly a decade ago, prompted by a friend's instruction to type "backyard street fight" into the fledgling video site's search engine.

The results were raw, grimy and violent. Slice, born Kevin Ferguson, forced random tough guys with names like "Dreads" and "Chico" into submission with the loud popping of his bare hands. The fights, staged for cash throughout backyards and empty parking lots in Miami, produced unforgettable emotions for each viewer.



In fact, for many, there was a competing element to the emotions at play, alternating between excitement, fear and shame. Years before Billy Corben's documentary "Dawg Fight" shined a light on the culture of Miami street fighting, the character of Kimbo Slice provided an unforgettable introduction.

A little more than a decade later, following a meteoric rise as a professional fighter (running the gamut from sideshow to legit, and back again), Slice died on Monday in South Florida at the age of 42. Details of his death remain unclear.

Given his backstory, Slice's MMA run is nothing short of remarkable, progressing from backyards to the UFC in record time despite the fact that he didn't pick up the sport until his mid-30s. It's a testament to the reason why we couldn't take our eyes off him from the beginning: Slice was a legit tough guy who was born to be a fighter, and despite some of the bizarre moments that followed, he never stopped being true to that identity.

Born in the Bahamas in 1974, Slice battled poverty in Miami and was later homeless in his adult life after an injury brought an end to his college football dreams. He found work in strip clubs and eventually as a bodyguard in the adult film industry.

Everything about him felt alarmingly real. Slice's backyard fights brought a certain element of fear through the screen that's hard to explain and hasn't been seen since the days of Mike Tyson. While no one would mistake comparing the abilities of the two, they shared that unavoidable element of raw transparency as to who they really were.

It's hard to imagine Slice's trademark look -- or his combination of bald head, braided hair on the sides and mini ponytail in the back -- would have worked for anyone else. But he pulled it off (complete with his pioneering chest-hair designs) in part because we wanted so badly to believe it.

With his thick beard, gold teeth and chains, Slice was a comic book and action movie villain put together, yet it seemed he was never really trying to play that character. While other fighters have borrowed elements from pro wrestling in an attempt to add legitimacy to their toughness, Slice never filled the silence with unnecessary trash talk. In fact, it was because of his quiet demeanor that his tough aura felt so authentic.

Slice's legacy as a fighter, however, is complicated, if not unique. Many fans never looked at him as anything more than a joke -- or ratings bait -- who received headlining bouts simply because of his marketability. Yet it would be unfair to discredit the importance of his run -- particularly in prime time on CBS with Elite XC -- in terms of bringing MMA into the living rooms of the casual fan. It would also be unfair to suggest he was never promoted as anything more than an "attraction."

He rebounded from a potentially disastrous 14-second loss to late replacement Seth Petruzelli in 2008 and won back the respect of the MMA community by quickly transitioning into a real fighter, joining the UFC through "The Ultimate Fighter" reality series. His blue-collar work ethic endeared him to fans who could relate to the underdog element of his "everyman" run from the backyard to the UFC's Octagon.

But Slice's UFC career proved to be short-lived. So was his forgettable seven-fight run as a pro boxer, which prompted similar whispers of improper matchmaking that followed him at each stop of his MMA career.

Which brings up an interesting dynamic: For as celebrated as Slice was for how real his persona came off, he constantly fought off rumors that his actual fights were the opposite (despite nothing ever being proved). His final victory in February, over former backyard rival Dhafir "Dada 5000" Harris, was also overturned when he tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

But Slice's true legacy surrounds his unrivaled ability to attract viewers. He fought James Thompson on CBS in 2008 in front of 6.51 million viewers. One year later, his UFC debut, an exhibition fight against Roy Nelson on "The Ultimate Fighter" on Spike TV, peaked at 6.1 million. In 2015, he made a return to MMA with Bellator, twice setting company ratings records on Spike TV.

Slice will never be confused with an elite or title-contending fighter, but he made us care about his journey in a way that's remarkable for a guy whose public identity was carved in gritty bare-knuckled combat.

As his recent ratings might suggest, we never stopped caring, and considering his indelible mark on both pop culture and MMA in general, I doubt we ever will.


Kimbo Slice dies at age 42


Dan Le Batard discusses Kimbo Slice's deep roots in Miami, how he emerged from the streets to become one of the first viral sports stars by fighting in the streets, and what his legacy is in the sport of mixed martial arts. (2:38)

Professional mixed martial artist Kimbo Slice died Monday at age 42, Bellator MMA announced.

"We are all shocked and saddened by the devastating and untimely loss of Kimbo Slice, a beloved member of the Bellator family," Bellator president Scott Coker said in a statement, calling Slice "a charismatic, larger-than-life personality that transcended the sport."

"Outside of the cage he was a friendly, gentle giant and a devoted family man," Coker said. "His loss leaves us all with extremely heavy hearts, and our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Ferguson family and all of Kimbo's friends, fans, and teammates."



There was no word on the cause of Slice's death.

Slice had been hospitalized earlier Monday in Margate, Florida, for undisclosed reasons, according to Coral Springs police, who had been dispatched to his residence to prevent a potential gathering outside. They said no foul play was suspected.

"We lost our brother today," Slice's longtime manager, Mike Imber, said in a text message to The Associated Press.

Slice, birth name Kevin Ferguson, was a former backyard brawler and internet sensation. A heavyweight at 6-foot-2, 225 pounds, he had a 5-2 professional record with four TKOs.

He was signed to Bellator MMA and scheduled to headline Bellator 158 on July 16 in London against James Thompson.

He last fought at Bellator 149 on Feb. 19 in Houston. He defeated Dhafir Harris, aka Dada5000, in a three-round decision. The result was later changed to a no-contest by the Texas commission, after Slice tested positive for anabolic steroids and an elevated testosterone ratio.

Slice also previously fought for the UFC.

"He carried himself as a true professional during his time in our organization," the promotion said in a statement Monday night. "While he will never be forgotten for his fighting style and transcendent image, Slice will also be remembered for his warm personality and commitment to his family and friends."

Slice was born in the Bahamas on Feb. 8, 1974, but grew up in South Florida. He played middle linebacker at Miami's Palmetto High and showed the potential to play in college before Hurricane Andrew caused Palmetto High's season to be cut short and his scholarship offers vanished. He flunked out of college at Bethune-Cookman University and was homeless for a brief time. He worked as a limo driver, strip-club bouncer and bodyguard before rising to fame through his viral street-fighting videos.

He was not embraced by much of the MMA world as it attempted to go mainstream, with UFC president Dana White famously saying Slice would not last two minutes in the Octagon. However, due in part to his immense popularity, Slice's third professional fight, a fourth-round TKO against Thompson in May 2008, aired on CBS, making it the first MMA fight on prime-time network television.

In 2009, the UFC booked Slice as a contestant on "The Ultimate Fighter" reality series. He ultimately fought for the UFC twice, compiling a 1-1 record, before taking a leave of absence from MMA to compete in professional wrestling.

In 2015, Bellator signed Slice and promoted him in a main event against MMA pioneer Ken Shamrock. Slice won the fight via TKO in the first round, after nearly being submitted by Shamrock in the opening minutes.

Shamrock tweeted about Slice's death Monday night.

We battled inside the cage, warrior vs warrior. Outside the cage, we have loved ones. REST IN PEACE KIMBO SLICE. May God Watch Over You.

The two Bellator events Slice competed in, Bellator 138 and Bellator 149, set new ratings records on Spike TV.

Slice made his professional MMA debut on Nov. 10, 2007, for the now-defunct promotion EliteXC, knocking out Bo Cantrell in just 19 seconds.

He trained out of American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. The team also mourned his passing on Twitter.

The ATT Family and South Florida community lost a legend today. RIP Kimbo.

For all of his glowering in-cage swagger and outsized fame, Slice was extraordinarily honest about his fighting abilities. He acknowledged being an MMA newcomer with much to learn, never claiming to be anything but a big puncher providing for his family while constantly working to learn the sport's other disciplines.

"The guys who are holding the titles, heavyweight and light heavyweight, these guys are awesome," Slice told the AP in a 2010 interview before his second UFC fight. "I'm really just having happy days in the midst -- being among them, fighting on the undercards, just contributing to the UFC and the sport. That's really what I want to do. I'm not looking ahead to winning a title or anything like that. I'm just enjoying each fight as it comes."

Slice is survived by six children, and he credited his MMA career for allowing him to send them to college. One of his three sons, Kevin Ferguson Jr., made his MMA debut in March.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Kimbo Slice's death draws plenty of reaction on social media


ESPN MMA writer Brett Okamoto looks back at the MMA career of Kimbo Slice, who died Monday at age 42. (1:32)

The mixed martial arts world lost one of its most iconic fighters when Kimbo Slice died Monday at the age of 42.

His loss obviously resonated throughout the MMA community. Here's a sampling of the reaction to Slice's death:

We battled inside the cage, warrior vs warrior. Outside the cage, we have loved ones. REST IN PEACE KIMBO SLICE. May God Watch Over You.

Prince, Ali, Kimbo, Jordan Parsons RIP
Like I said before make sure you tell everybody that's important to you that you love them everyday!

Be blessed on your new journey Kimbo. You inspired so many! With our short time in life,inspiration is King. My condolences to the Slice fam

Sad to hear about the passing of Kimbo Slice. Condolences to his family. 

There were also an outpouring of sympathy from elsewhere in the sports world:

 - Im glad I got to know you my friend. You were a badass SOB and extremely kind at the same time. U will be missed. 

RIP Kimbo my brother,we will miss you in the 305,only love4U. HH

Kimbo Slice. Smh. I Use To Sneak To Watch Your Videos In High School. Rest Easy. 


Kimbo Slice: Not quite what you were thinking

Editor's note: This piece from Dan Le Batard was originally published by ESPN The Magazine in 2008. Kimbo Slice passed away on June 6, 2016.

Let's rewind to the most desperate time in the desperate life of a desperate man. Before he traveled by stretch Navigator limo and private jet. Before rap stars requested his menace in their videos. Before Randy Moss approached him like an awestruck teen. Or Jason Taylor wanted the best seats to watch him fight. Or Lamar Odom said, "Manny Ramirez was born to swing a bat. Peyton Manning was born to throw a football. And Kimbo Slice was born to kick ass." You know, before he made that clichéd climb from strip-club bouncer to porn bodyguard to street-brawling Internet legend to broadcast-TV star, ho-hum.

Kimbo Slice-real name Kevin Ferguson-was homeless 14 years ago. He lived out of a green, 1987 Pathfinder that had four mismatched tires. He taped plastic bags to the shattered window to keep most of the rain out. He bathed in the ocean and pools and went to the bathroom wherever he could. He was too proud to live with his mother but not too proud to wash the cars of strangers when he got turned down for menial jobs. And that mind of his-the one that has surprised the CBS suits trying to morph him into an MMA star, that convinced them to sign him for MMA's network debut on May 31-drowned in shame.

It hadn't always been so. Two years earlier, in 1992, Ferguson had been a middle linebacker at Miami's Palmetto High with the skill to think college ball. But then Hurricane Andrew blew through South Florida, wrecking Ferguson's home and hopes. Palmetto's season was shortened, and Ferguson's scholarships disappeared. He tried college at Bethune-Cookman but flunked out. By early 1994, he was out on the street. And that time makes the 6'2", 240-pound, 34-year-old badass cry to this day, just thinking about living and dying in the stink of that damn truck.

For all the fistfighting Ferguson/Slice has done, in the alleys of Miami's darkest corners and now in front of shining lights, that homeless month represents the most scared he has ever been. Which is saying something. This is a man, mind you, who still wears the scars from Hurricane Andrew on his body, like slashes on a gladiator's shield. He hid under a mattress that night as debris pelted him and his mother's home crumbled. But at least he had a mattress then. And no six kids and their two moms to feed or fail. While in that truck, Ferguson talked to himself and to God and asked both to please keep him from temptation and deliver him from evil. He found work as a limo driver, a strip-club bouncer, a bodyguard for a porn company-whatever he had to do-until he could move from backseat to cheap apartment. It would have been the easiest thing to harm someone and take their money. It was just about the world's hardest thing not to.

Violence wasn't the answer. Not yet. It would, of course, later be his salvation, and America's love of it would be bigger even than his own. He has always tried to be honorable about administering it, though. Kimbo may have street cred that makes Allen Iverson look like a Tibetan monk, but it was built upon principles.

Friends say he has never been a bully, but he likes little else more than fighting them. His first videotaped street fight-a 2003 scrap that traveled from a Miami backyard to the world, the one in which he dropped his fists and kept advancing after letting the sculpted beast across from him take shots at his face, the one that earned him $3,000 for a knockout-was against a dude who'd been terrorizing the neighborhood with crime and fear. (Ferguson himself has never been arrested for a violent act. His one blotter incident came in 2002, when he was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and an open container; the weapons charge was dropped.) A buddy put the fight up on a porn site and immediately got two million hits, which handed Ferguson a new kind of famous with the YouTube generation. And with those clicks, Kevin Ferguson began his transformation into Kimbo Slice, merging the "Kimbo" he'd been called since he was a kid in the Bahamas with the "Slice" tag that Internet fans had slapped on him and Kimbo had deemed appropriately badass.

Mano a mano, Kimbo fought to test himself and to make money. It was human cockfighting; the brawls drew crowds and bets, and Kimbo put up as much as $5,000 for any taker who could match his stake and beat him. His mother didn't approve but went to one of the fights anyway and ended up screaming throughout. "Terrified," she recalls herself being. But earlier this month, she did a CBS Mother's Day commercial with Kimbo.

Back then, there was no packaging. Surrounding neighborhoods merely brought their baddest and bravest to fight, organized by what Kimbo calls the Don Kings of the street. Many of the fights were posted on YouTube. The rules were simple: pure striking, no grappling, officiating by the masses. In more than 20 fights, Kimbo lost only once (see below).

He fought clinically, without anger or fear. An internship on the way to a profession. Emotions just got in the way of the science of penetrating another man's psyche and defense. Kimbo has rage roiling within, and he'll admit that fighting feels like a cathartic, and sexual, release. But in those conversations with himself and with God in that Pathfinder, he decided he could not unleash that rage upon the helpless just to help himself. There was honor, nobility and money in beating up consenting adults. There would have been only money in mugging an old person. "To hurt someone vulnerable, I just couldn't do it like that," he says. "You want to be a good father and productive citizen. I could have been on the cover of the newspaper as a killer. I had to fight with myself not to hurt people, some serious mental wars. But who would have raised my boys? They would have grown up knowing their dad died another violent death. They would have been angry, and now, instead of one person dying a violent death, you've got two other little protégés who would have grown up just as violent and vicious, causing even more harm to people. I couldn't have that. I've got to be a guide to my kids. Nobody else is going to do it."

Not what you expected, right? Bald. Bearded. Gold teeth. Inked-up muscles on top of muscles. Feared because he does not seem to fear. And popular and profitable because everything about him, from his rise to his look to his aura to our infatuation to those fists with knuckles in all the wrong places, is scary. But if you can get past that, there's a conscience, a blueprint and a loving father. That's not the easiest thing to believe, especially when Kimbo feeds the mythmaking machine a morsel at a time.

Are you crazy, Kimbo?

"A little," he says.

Are you evil?

"Just a little."

He says he can see souls tremble, and dreams of tearing off a man's arm and beating him with it. Those crude videos of his barbaric fights speak for themselves, tapping into our fear and love of violence. So raw, so real and so unlike anything else in the commercials-ization of sports. Those videos traveled broadband around the globe like a whispered secret, seeming to say ugly things about him and us, a voyeuristic peek into a frightening world. They do so much of his marketing for him, because fear is good for business in the cage as long as the paying public has that fear and Kimbo doesn't. And while America might be ready to elect a black president, it'll be a long time before it is unafraid of a giant and violent black man intent on harm and seemingly impervious to it.

As with all marketing, appearances are crucial. It's hard to imagine Kimbo's having this aura if his story were exactly the same but he was white and clean shaven. Who would he be then? Tank Abbott? Butterbean? Hulk Hogan? With only two official pro MMA wins, would he have TV commercials on CBS as the newest face of a sport? Very little about this tale is uncomplicated. The American dream is not something you typically find wrapped in violence and sex. And you hardly expect a man to find God amid fistfights and pornography. But Kimbo Slice's ride, as turbulent as life and America and life in America, takes a lot of unexpected turns and arrives in some pretty dark places. What was the model of his truck? A Pathfinder? Kimbo prayed and believed at the depths of his despair, but he didn't immediately get answers or peace or find anything that felt like a path. All he immediately got was his truck repossessed.

Kimbo's manager, a 32-year-old white friend Kimbo met in high school, is sitting in the Miami boardroom of Reality Kings, an adult-entertainment company. There is a blowfish in the aquarium, a closet full of women's high-heel shoes and a framed Kimbo poster on the wall. In it, Kimbo is surrounded by bikini-clad women while wearing a fedora and holding a pimp's cane. As always, Kimbo looks bad. Bad meaning bad? Or bad meaning good? That depends on your judgments, or lack thereof. The poster is a piece of art on the wall at Reality Kings. Really. We are all a little naked, and the kings of our own reality, so the "A" in MMA is always in the eye of the beholder. Depending on your biases, the sport can be viewed as a technical science honing the skills of our toughest gladiators or as another deviant path toward the apocalypse.

Regardless, Kimbo's manager-who won't talk unless he's called IceyMike instead of his real name-doesn't want to be portrayed as a mastermind, because this wasn't planned. He hired Kimbo out of the strip club because he needed a limo driver in the late 1990s. But IceyMike discovered Kimbo's skills quite by accident. Seems every time a guy did something inappropriate with the girls in a VIP room, that guy ended up with IceyMike's limo driver standing over him. IceyMike's lovable little mom, Suzan, now runs Kimbo's fan club and can show you inspirational letters from Britain, Poland and Iraq, from grandmas who want autographs for their grandsons and from kids who've done elementary school projects on Kimbo. Suzan is one of the few people who reprimand Kimbo and get a bowed head. Believe it or not, Kimbo says IceyMike cares about him so much that he works for free. Funny, you don't expect to walk into a porn company and leave with a love story.

But there are haters, too. MMA elitists treat Kimbo like a circus act. They hate that he is representing their sport on Jimmy Kimmel. Hate that he's guaranteed six figures per bout like only the world's top fighters. Hate that he's on magazine covers and that George Karl motivates his Nuggets with footage of Kimbo. "More and more people are resenting him and his success," IceyMike says.

UFC president Dana White says Kimbo wouldn't last two minutes in the Octagon; Tito Ortiz reduces that to "seconds." And former UFC heavyweight champ Ricco Rodriguez told a radio station, "Kimbo is a tomato can. What has he done to prove himself? He hasn't fought anybody. He's a nobody. Kimbo Slice is just a clown."

And maybe Kimbo is just aura, hype and balls. But this is true too: For his fight against a washed-up Abbott (1-7 in his previous bouts) on Feb. 16, Kimbo sold out Miami U.'s basketball arena. Rodriguez was relegated to the undercard, where fans booed because his technical fight was a bore. Truth is, a star and some buzz are good for any sport; MMA should welcome Kimbo's charisma, personality and ability to attract the uninitiated. The Kimbo circus brings more people into the tent looking for carnage instead of science. Kimbo's network fight is against a 6'5", 270-pound crazy guy named James "The Colossus" Thompson. But The Colossus has no chin and once lost to Butterbean in less than a minute. The myth will grow the moment a national TV audience sees the cool Internet legend slay another giant. Are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?

Besides, Kimbo's and MMA's stories are exactly the same. Up from the gutter. Secretly popular. Misunderstood. Violent. Criticized. Dangerous. Fun. Cool. Bloody. Viral. And now, finally, mainstream. Think about all the sports and leagues that aren't as popular in the U.S. despite huge financial backing: soccer, the WNBA, maybe even the NHL. MMA popped up because we demanded it, stepping over protests and outrage. It mixes football's violence with pro wrestling's entertainment and more sciences than boxing. Kimbo combines Mike Tyson's mystique and Mr. T's personality. That combination already landed one movie role for Kimbo, as a shiv-wielding bad guy in Blood and Bone, which is awaiting release. "I consider myself an up-and-coming, intelligent black businessman," Kimbo says.

Can he keep winning? Who knows? His ground game hasn't been tested, but he's been working for nearly a year in LA (where he stays with IceyMike) with legendary trainer Bas Rutten, a fifth-degree black belt in karate. "Kimbo's a freak with strength," Rutten says. "I wish all my fighters were like him. He has more tools than people think." And Kimbo has already beaten back three doubters with both bloody fists.

Here's what Ray Mercer, owner of the hardest punch Lennox Lewis claims he ever felt, said before fighting Kimbo in the first MMA event for each: "The quality of guys he is fighting ... they're bums. I'm former heavyweight champion of the world."

Kimbo needed 72 seconds to choke out Mercer. The fight was Mercer's final MMA attempt.

Here's what MMA veteran Bo Cantrell said before facing Kimbo: "I've been fighting for five years-tough cats. I don't make a living beating up little kids on YouTube. There's a big difference between being hit by someone who's trained to fight and someone off the street thinking they're tough. People pay me, train me well. I throw combinations, kicks, roundhouses. I'm not some guy trying to do his best Chuck Norris impersonation."

Kimbo beat Cantrell in 19 seconds, with punches.

Here's Abbott before fighting Kimbo: "It's going be an easy beating. I can't wait to hurt him. I've been in over 200 fights. I bench-press 600 pounds. He doesn't have the skills to hang."

Kimbo beat Abbott in 43 seconds, and only because he waited for Abbott to get up after dropping to his knees.

"I still consider myself a baby at this game," Kimbo says. "Those guys probably know how to run circles around me, but I can bang with the best. And I'm not a one-dimensional fighter anymore. I used to have just a hammer. But now I've got a hammer, a tape measure, a screwdriver, a glue gun. Now I've got some tools in the belt."

Looks like Kimbo Slice didn't need that repossessed Pathfinder to find a path. Looks like Kimbo Slice, after one hell of a journey and a journey through hell, has found something that feels a lot like a home.


What's the most anticipated fight in Kimbo Slice's future? That's easy: a sanctioned rematch against the only fighter to tag him with a loss. So why hasn't it happened? It's complicated.

Let's go back: In 2004, Sean Gannon, a 33-year-old Boston cop, agreed to a bare-knuckle bout with Slice at a still-secret East Coast martial arts studio. In a brutal back-and-forth, Slice bloodied Gannon's face, but the 6'3", 265-pound southpaw knocked Slice down three times in 10 minutes, the third for the decisive count of 30. Clips were posted to YouTube (more than five million hits), and buzz from the bout helped Gannon land a 2005 UFC fight. He seemed poised for fame, but the Boston PD didn't like the bad PR from the underground Slice bout and instructed Gannon to stand down. He fought anyway, lasting 4:14 against Branden Lee Hinkle, and was suspended from his job for two weeks without pay. Gannon hasn't fought since.

Talk regarding a Slice rematch started immediately, and calls to make the fight intensified as Kimbo's fame spread. Slice wants the fight, saying famously: "I would literally give my left nut-but I wouldn't tell anybody-to fight him again." The bosses at Elite XC say it'd be an easy sell to CBS. Gannon, meanwhile, has remained silent-the Boston PD forbids officers from talking to the media without permission. He refers all questions to his manager, Joe Cavallaro.

A six-time New England Golden Gloves champ, Gannon still trains at a Boston MMA gym to stay sharp. He's been a cop for 12 years and likes his job. But when the money is right-and insiders expect an agreement by year's end-he'll hope for permission to meet Slice in the cage, arguing that Boston cops have received approval to box. If told no, Gannon faces a decision: fight and deal with the consequences, or quit his job and chase an MMA career.

Meanwhile, Kimbo waits.

WEB GEMS Kimbo Slice is a web sensation, with more than 100 clips on YouTube alone. Nineteen of those vids have been viewed more than one million times, but several offerings reveal lesser-known slices of Slice. Here are five of the best.

SEARCH: ESPN.com-"Kimbo Slice E:60" HIGHLIGHT: Palmetto High teammate Bryce Erickson, son of former Miami coach Dennis, discusses Slice's prep dominance on the grid.

SEARCH: YouTube-"Kimbo Slice talks about his past" HIGHLIGHT: Slice reveals that he beat up bullies to "rep his city, rep his hood."

SEARCH: YouTube-"Money talks: Kimbo Slice football tackle" HIGHLIGHT: Man puts on football gear. Man pockets $100. Man tackled by Slice. Man does not get up for a long, long time.

SEARCH: YouTube-"Kimbo Slice vs. everybody" HIGHLIGHT: Various fighters bad-mouth Slice; Tito Ortiz says he nicknamed his dog Kimbo Slice.

SEARCH: YouTube-"A morning with Kimbo Slice" HIGHLIGHT: New gloves arrive at the gym, and Slice is thrilled: "With these hands, I can part the sea. Now we're protected. Niiiiice!"

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