By Chris Hush and Peggy Kusinski, nbcchicago.com
A top prospect in the boxing ring and an inspiration around the world, Chicago’s Ed Brown died Sunday after being shot on the city’s West Side.
Brown, 25, was sitting with his 19-year-old sister in a parked car in the 3200 block of West Warren Blvd in the East Garfield Park neighborhood early Saturday, according to police. Around 1:10 a.m., a silver vehicle pulled up and someone inside opened fire, authorities said.
Brown was shot in the head and taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in critical condition, according to police. His sister was shot in the leg and also taken to Mount Sinai, where she was in good condition, officials said.
His manager Michael Cericola confirmed Sunday that Brown died from his injuries.
“Tonight we mourn the loss of Chicago’s Favorite Son,” Cericola said in a statement. “The boxing ring is one of the scariest places in the world but it’s nothing compared to the streets of Chicago. Ed’s life was filled with tragedy and he battled through it all long enough for all of us to be able to meet him.”
“We are thankful for our time with him,” he added. Cericola said Brown was heading home from the gym when he was shot.
“They just rolled up and opened fire on him,” Cericola said.
Brown was hardly a stranger to gun violence in Chicago. In June, he told NBC 5 his story of surviving, and even striving for success, in a life filled with hardship.
When Brown was 11 years old, his mother was one of 21 people killed during the E2 nightclub stampede in 2003. About a year later, his father was sent to prison and his grandmother stepped in to care for him. Even so, Brown said he grew up in Garfield Park lacking guidance.
“He was put into a boxing program to eat up some of his time but when he wasn’t in the gym he was out looking for trouble,” Cericola said in June.
“At first I was just doing this to do it,” Brown told NBC 5 of his early boxing days, after his uncle introduced him to the sport at age 6. “Then I saw I was really good at it, so I wanted to get a world title.”
“It gave me confidence, a lot of confidence,” he added. “Showed me I could actually be something.”
But as Brown found success in the ring, he struggled in school, and got into trouble on the streets – even getting shot multiple times before the shooting that claimed his life. He was celebrating a victory in his first professional fight in 2012 when he was shot in the chest.
He survived and focused on rehab, returning to the ring months later to win two more fights before being shot again, then serving a 10-month prison sentence.
After being released from prison, Brown threw himself into his sport, signing with Las Vegas promoter Cameron Dunkin. One of boxing’s most famous managers, Dunkin said in June that Brown could one day rank among the top five fighters in the world, adding “he’s that good.”
Brown’s fourth-ever professional match in May 2015 was the first of 13 fights that year alone – all of which he won.
“I’m tired of going up the same path and doing the same thing, getting shot, going to jail. I want to do something different,” Brown told NBC 5 in June.
“I feel like I’m doing something good. I’m on the right path,” he added.
Brown’s most recent fight in November brought him to a 20-0 record with 16 KOs, putting him on track to one day achieving his world championship goals.
“If I get a world title, it’d be crazy,” he said in June. “A young kid from Chicago with a WBC belt around his waist? It’d be wild.”
“I got my chance now, so I gotta do what I can do,” he told NBC 5. “I might be on TV, might be a big superstar from Chicago. It’s my dream come true.”
A dream that his teammates and mentors were helping him attain before he died.
“He brings everyone together. He’s just… I don’t know. I’m just holding it in right now,” teammate Ray Corona said Saturday after visiting Brown at the hospital.
Now, the Chicago boxing community is left to mourn their loss, and his family’s, as Brown leaves behind a 3-year-old daughter.
No one is in custody for the shooting, according to police, who continue to investigate.