WEST GARFIELD PARK — The gun violence in Chicago claimed another life on the West Side, this time one of the city’s best professional boxing prospects in years.
Ed Brown, a 25-year-old undefeated professional boxer known as "Bad Boy" in part because he'd already survived three shootings, was gunned down Saturday in his home neighborhood of West Garfield Park.
According to Chicago Police, Brown was sitting with his sister in a car parked in the 3200 block of West Warren Avenue at 1:10 a.m. Saturday when a silver vehicle pulled alongside them.
Someone inside sprayed shots into Brown's car. He was hit in the head and taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he died Sunday.
Brown’s 19-year-old sister suffered a minor leg injury and will survive, according to police. Brown leaves behind a 3-year-old daughter, Kayla Brown, whose name he had tattooed on his wrist.
According to Mike Cericola, Brown’s co-manager, he was coming back from a midnight training session at a local X-Sport when he was murdered.
“He was 100-percent committed to being a professional fighter, but this isn’t a neighborhood where you can put on your shoes at night and have a run. So he went to the gym to do his work,” Cericola said.
Brown had run his professional record to 20-0 after beating Albert Mensah in Philadelphia a little more than three weeks ago. According to boxing experts, commentators, fans, and his management, Brown was considered the “uncrowned champion” of the welterweight division.
He had recently signed with the famous Cameron Dunkin’s management company, which keeps a stable of world champions on its roster.
"Cameron Dunkin is the best manager in boxing, so I'll just refer to him," said Cericola. "And he said Ed was his next champion."
Brown had lived a life full of tragedy, with always the monstrous specter of hope on the horizon for both himself and what remained of his family and friends, say those who knew him. His mother had been trampled to death in the E2 nightclub stampede that killed 21 people when Brown was 12. His father spent Brown's childhood locked up in prison.
Brown himself had survived eight bullets before the last claimed his life, the shootings often happening in a pattern that repeated itself with his murder. Win a fight, get shot.
He had been first shot in the chest at a night club one week after winning his first professional fight. He returned six months later, won two more fights and was shot again, this time on a party bus after two men got into a fight and one of them started shooting.
He was shot yet again during a drive by just before the 2012 Olympic Trials, where Brown expected to make the United States team. Following that last shooting, he decided to turn professional and earn a living as a boxer, where he could collect enough purse and sponsorship money to leave his violence-plagued, but beloved neighborhood behind.
Brown had talked with a grim certainty, now borne out, about his attitude toward Chicago in a piece by local writer Bill Hillmann.
“I love Chicago," Brown told Hillmann. “I’ll love Chicago till the day I die. I’m happy for any Chicagoan — black, white, Mexican — that’s doing good. But all I can tell the kids is, get what you can and get out. Get yours and get up outta here, ’cause people gonna hate on you, gonna shoot at you and gonna kill you.”
“We talked about leaving a lot with him,” Cericola said. “Cameron Dunkin gave him an open ticket, anywhere he wanted to go, any gym, any trainers. He was thrilled when I brought him to California last June for his fight. He took pictures of everything that said ‘California’ on it. He loved it out there. But he just didn’t know anything outside of Chicago. When he fought in New Mexico he thought he was in Mexico. I couldn’t convince him he wasn’t in Mexico,” Cericola says with a sad, bemused laugh.
Hillmann, who told DNAinfo he got a “bad feeling” when he had talked with Brown about Chicago, regarded the nickname “Bad Boy” as an irony after being around the young fighter.
“It was really ironic, because he had a goodness about him, he was kind and endearing, as soon as you met him and talked to him for five minutes you automatically were rooting for him, he had a really magnetic personality,” said Hillmann.
“But everybody was worried about him, he was very active on Facebook, always on social media, always on there after working out, after running, and that was scary if there is someone out there looking for you, but he was just being himself, he’s that kind of a guy, an open, engaging person.”
Cericola, the co-manager, said at this point he does not even believe it was something personal, just people murdering each other because that is how things are done right now where Brown grew up and lived.
“They don’t come and shoot because they know you and want to shoot you, they come and shoot because this is an area where they do that, that’s what’s crazy.”
Cericola said people looked up to Brown.
“I would say hope died,” said Cericola. “So many people looked to him. His mother died in a stampede, he was raised in the Park Districts and the streets, if he could make it I could make it. But no mater what he did he couldn’t make it — Hall of Fame, world champion fighters couldn’t beat him, but some punk with a gun could.”
Community activist Andrew Holmes, whose daughter was murdered last year in Indianapolis, is offering $1,000 to anyone with information that helps capture Brown’s killer. According to Cericola, Holmes is already planning to raise more.
A GoFundMe has been started for Brown’s funeral expenses at “Ed Bad Boy Brown.” Cericola warned that several others had been started under his name, honest or not, but that the page under his name will go to Brown’s funeral.
Police have not made any arrests in the shooting and the investigation continues.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here.