Jim Brown: 5 Things To Know About NFL Legend & Hollywood Actor Dead At 87

Jim Brown died 'peacefully' at his Los Angeles home, according to his wife. Learn about the star here.

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  • NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown died on May 18, 2023
  • He was not only one the best NFL players of his time, but he transformed into a movie star after his retirement
  • Jim also dedicated much of his time to civil rights activism

Jim Brown, the former NFL star turned Hollywood actor, has died at the age of 87. His wife, Monique Brown, announced the news on Jim’s Instagram page on May 19, 2023 with a statement that accompanied a photo of her kissing him on his forehead, as seen here. “It is with profound sadness that I announced the passing of my husband, Jim Brown,” Monique’s statement read. “He passed peacefully last night at our LA home.”

“To the world he was an activist, actor, and football star. To our family, he was a loving and wonderful husband, father, and grandfather,” Monique continued. “Our hearts are broken…” Jim was drafted by The Cleveland Browns in 1957 and quickly became one of the best pro athletes at the time. As mentioned above, his impressive career took him far beyond the sports world. Learn five things about the late star here.

Jim Brown
Jim Brown was a legendary NFL Hall of Fame Inductee, a movie star, and an activist (Photo: Shutterstock)

Jim Brown Was Regarded As One Of The Best Athletes Of The 20th Century

James “Jim” Nathaniel Brown was born on Feb. 17, 1936 in San Simons Island, Ga. His parents were Swinton and Theresa Brown, but he was primarily raised by his grandparents in his early years, according to USA TODAY. He grew up on Manhasset, Long Island and excelled in all the sports her played, which included football, basketball, and lacrosse. After a successful high school athletic career, Jim received not only acceptances, but athletic scholarship offers from 42 schools, per The Hollywood Reporter.  He attended Syracuse University, and in his senior year, earned first-team All-America honors, and was the fifth in the running for the coveted Heisman Trophy.

As mentioned above, he was drafted by The Browns and immediately became a breakout star and was named being named Rookie of the Year following his first pro season. During his month game, he impressively earned his first NFL record by rushing 237 yards against the Rams. His record held for 40 years. He also led The Browns to the Super Bowl in 1964, where they cinched the Lombardi Trophy.

Jim shocked fans when he retired from the NFL in 1966 at the age of 30 years old. At the time, he was the NFL’s all-time leading rusher with 12,312 yards and a four-time NFL MVP. He also impressively never missed a game in his NFL career. Jim was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971 and the Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1984.

Jim Brown Quit Football For Hollywood

Jim Brown on the set of 1969's '100 Rifles'
Jim Brown on the set of 1969’s ‘100 Rifles’ (Photo: Shutterstock)

When Jim retired from the NFL, he had already begun acting. He previously said he wanted to take a chance at Hollywood so he could “have a hand in the struggle that is taking place in our country,” he explained in a Feb. 1968 Playboy interview (via The Hollywood Reporter). His debut acting role was in 1964’s Western, Rio Conchos, and he went on to book gig after gig, with nine on his IMDb page just between ’64 and ’69.

“Have you ever been to any Negro theater with a movie going, with a Negro in it? Well, you can just feel the tension of that audience, pulling for this guy to do something good, something that will give them a little pride,” he gushed in his Playboy interview. “That’s why I feel so good that Negroes are finally starting to play roles that other Negroes, watching, will feel proud of, and respond to, and identify with, and feel real about, instead of being crushed by some Uncle Tom on the screen making a fool of himself.”

Jim Brown Became A Civil Rights Activist

Not only did Jim trailblaze a path for hopeful Black actors behind him; he advocated for the social and civil rights of all. For instance, he founded Amer-I-Can in 1988, an organization that helps teach former prison inmates life skills through a 15-step program. The goal of the program is to help these individuals “to meet their academic potential, conform their behavior to acceptable societal standards, and improve the quality of their lives by equipping them with what they need to confidently and successfully contribute to society,” per its website.

Amer-I-Can also aimed to end gang violence. Jim and former linebacker Ray Lewis met with former President Donald J. Trump in 2016 about the issue and he once again talked to Trump in 2018 with Kanye West. “This is the president of the United States. He allowed me to be invited to his territory, he treated us beautifully, and he shared some thoughts, and he will be open to talking when I get back to him,” he said following the later visit, per The New York Times.

Jim Brown Had Five Children

Jim Brown smiles with his twins, Kim and Kevin, in 1961
Jim Brown smiles with his twins, Kim and Kevin, in 1961 (Photo: Shutterstock)

Jim Brown was the proud parent of five kids from two different marriages. He married his first wife, Sue, in 1959. They have three children together and separated in 1972, per the NYT. They had twins, Kim and Kevin (who can be seen above), and a son named James Jr. He went on to marry Monique in 1997. They welcomed two children into the world: a son, Aris, and a daughter, Morgan.

Jim Brown Had A Troubled Past

Although he never got in trouble for the accusations, Jim was accused of violence against women several times. He was taken to court in 1965 by an 18-year-old female who accused him of assault, but he was found not guilty. Three years later, he was dismissed from an assault charge after his alleged victim refused to testify, according to The New York Times.

In his 1989 memoir, Out of Bounds, he admitted he had anger issues when he was younger and that he did hit women. He said he knows how wrong it was and that he “should have been more in control of myself, stronger, more adult.”

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